Winter and Snow Tires: Everything You Need to Know

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    As the weather starts to cool off, you hear people talking about switching to winter or snow tires. You’ve always made it through the winter months with your same tires, which might leave you wondering whether you really need to run down to the tire shop to get new ones just because cold weather is coming.

    The truth is that winter tires are vastly different than all-weather or summer tires. You might just need someone to explain the difference to you and help you find the best ones for winter conditions — and we’re here to help you do just that.

    Winter Snow Tires

    Are Snow Tires Right for You?

    If you live in an area where the winter weather can produce icy conditions, you need the right tires to keep you safe on both dry pavement and icy roads. The tread design on winter tires helps you find better traction and make braking safer in winter conditions. Whether you need to drive on packed snow or a fresh snowfall at one time or another, the right snow tires can help keep you safe and protected.

    Why Snow Tires Are Better Than All-Season Tires

    The anatomy of a snow tire is almost the same as that of an all-weather tire. The biggest difference between the two tread patterns is the number of sipes. Sipes are small cuts made in the tread pattern, and the more numerous the sipes on snow tires the more easily it can grip the road by flipping ice and snow out of the way. 

    The second difference is in the rubber for the tread pattern. In snow tires, the tread is made from a softer rubber compound that allows the tread and sipes to squash the snow and ice around and force it out of the way so the tire more easily grips the road. Even on icy roads, you feel like you’re driving on dry roads. The tire technology involved in the design of winter tires helps you stay safer on icy roads during winter conditions. 

    Some winter tires have closed-cell bubbles in the tire tread. As the tire moves over the winter roads, the bubbles develop sharper, biting edges to better cling to the road in an all-wheel-drive car.

    Why Snow Tires Work in Winter Conditions

    Tires are tires, right? So, why do snow tires work better on icy roads and packed snow? It’s the tread on the tires. First, you need to make sure that the tire pressure is correct inside your tires. Cold temperatures can cause your tire pressure to be lower than normal. This can be dangerous depending on the road conditions and when cornering. 

    The sipes help the tread of the tire spread out on the road and sling snow and slush out of your way. Some of the conditions that you can make safer with winter tires include:

    • Slush
    • Packed snow
    • Loose snow
    • Ice
    • Black ice
    • Icy roads
    • Skidding
    • Spinouts

    The right snow tires can make the difference between maintaining control of your car on winter roads and finding yourself in a ditch. You want to keep yourself and your family safe year-round, and snow tires — whether they come from Goodyear or Bridgestone — can make the difference between arriving home safely and finding yourself stuck on the side of the road in dangerously cold weather.

    Types of Winter Tires

    There are different types of snow tires that come in various sizes and tread designs. You may need to check your owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer has recommendations for winter tires for your specific car make and model. Here’s a look at the most common types of snow tires:


    These winter tires have a tread design that can take studs, which provide better ice and snow traction to keep you on the road in winter conditions. While you can use these tires without the studs, they don’t operate as well on icy roads without them. It’s important to note that studs can cause serious damage to roads, so many states ban them or have strict laws regarding when you can use them. 


    Whether you drive an SUV or a sedan, studless winter tires are designed for areas that see a lot of snowfall and icy conditions throughout the winter months. These tires were created as an option to replace studded tires. If you live in a state that bans studs and sees extreme winter conditions, then this is the tire for you.

    Performance Winter Tires

    If your part of the world sees cold temperatures and icy roads without a lot of snowfall, then you need this winter tire. This tire isn’t designed for lots of packed snow but for open roads with winter conditions. If you live in an area with roads that are cleared of snow and ice regularly, these tires will keep you safe. 

    All-Season Tires

    It can be a pain changing your tires in the fall and spring, so if you live in an area without extreme winter weather, then all-season tires might be a good compromise. These tires are designed to provide extra traction in rainy and snowy weather, but don’t function as well as winter tires. 

    Other Options

    There are other options to consider in the place of snow tires. You can put snow chains or cables on your existing tires. The chains and cables provide extra traction for winter conditions. Some states ban snow chains while others with extreme winter weather require them, so check local laws. Tire socks are another option. These fabric socks fit over every tire size and use the fabric to grip the road. 

    Winter and Snow Tires: Everything You Need to Know 1

    How to Find the Right Snow Tire for Your Vehicle

    When the temperatures begin to dip, you need to consider the upcoming winter conditions that may make driving less safe. Installing snow tires can protect your family and help you navigate icy roads more easily. If you find yourself in need of help on the road, Geyers Towing can help with towing, winch service, and emergency roadside services. Contact our office for more information.

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