Snow Tires: Do I Need Snow Tires?

Theodore Olson

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With all of today’s traction control and stability control systems, and front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive vehicles, it can be a bit confusing when trying to decide the value and importance of snow tires. Following is an easy-to-read break down of 10 rules.

Rule 1: regardless of traction electronics a vehicle has, in the snow, it boils down to rubber-meets-the-road-traction

Rule 2: traction comes from your tires gripping the road. No grip, no traction. Traction is important not just for stability, but steering, braking, and propulsion. It's a biggy!

Rule 3: some all-season tires are adequate in the snow, many are not. Various tires that are “rated” all-season have sport tire attributes, and are inadequate in the snow—even dangerous. SUVs with sport tires (DUBS) run into this scenario quite often.

Rule 4: the best all-season tire is not better in the snow than a premium snow tire

Rule 5: all season tires can stiffen in cold weather—stiff tires, less traction

Rule 6: snow tires really do make a noticeable difference

Rule 7: replace all four to maximize safety. Replacing only two encourages unequal traction, which leads to loss of control. In fact, replacing just two is often more dangerous

Rule 8: snow tires will feel/ride differently, but nothing like the days of knobby, studded-snow tires. Tire technology has come a long way, and there are many snow tires on the market that ride beautifully

Rule 9: consider a rim and tire package. It makes swapping to your snows a breeze

Rule 10: you don’t have to use snow tires. In a safe area, try driving on your regular tires in the snow. If you’re all over the road, get some snows. If your car feels fine, great. Save your money!

These comments are intended as a general guide. Refer to your owner’s manual for particular vehicle requirements.

-Theodore P. Olson (Ted)
Maintenance Time Saver

Ted holds extensive certifications from Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, General Motors, ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and more. Over a twenty-year period in the automotive service industry, he has served as a technician, shop foreman, shop manager, shop owner, service advisor, service manager, and service industry consultant.

Other Works by Ted Olson Include:

  • ARREST the Automotive Service Industry!
  • Maintenance Myths: A Step-by-Step Guide to STOP Getting Ripped Off!
  • Auto Repair: The Shocking Truth About Who's Ripping You Off and Why!
  • Automotive Service Pricing Strategies—a fair pricing guide for service centers
  • Being the Best—a comprehensive customer service handbook for service advisors
  • Service Center Personnel—an auto repair informational for general service staff
  • Service Mission Statement—a philosophical proposal to improve customer service


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