Winter Tires or Snow Tires Which Do I Need?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 by Chad Hocker
If you are looking for snow tires or winter tires for the first time or maybe just looking for some new tires to be used in the winter.  It can be some what overwhelming as their are many choices available, but once we get into things the selection is very clear and easy.  First, let me describe the different categories we group the winter/snow tires into.

Performance Winter Tires
For drivers who want to retain the precision of their ultra high performance sports car,sedan or coupe during winter conditions.  Seeing lighter snow conditions or well plowed roads.  Possibly in urban environments or a wet winter climate.
 
Studless Ice and Snow Tires
For the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles looking for traction on winter's slushy, snow-covered and icy roads.  These tires are for moderate to severe snow environments.  The Studless Ice and Snow tires are for the drivers that need to arrive at their destination regardless of winter conditions.
Studdable Tires
For drivers of sport cars, coupes, sedans, vans and crossover vehicles that desire to use traditional methods of enhancing wintertime traction.  These tires may be studded to enhance winter driving traction.
 
Now lets take a look a few top winter tires in each category and make a few comments on each tire's specific strengths.  Click on the tire to read each winter tire review specifically.

Performance Winter tires
Studless Ice and Snow Tires
Studdable Tires
          General Altimax ArticGeneral Altimax Artic
Check here to see if any of theses tires have any rebates.

Comments on Winter Tires or Snow Tires Which Do I Need?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 by mark santo:
drive pa and ohio turnpike in winter have a 2006 honda accord - looking at buying General's Altimax Artic - what do you think
Thursday, November 12, 2009 by Chad:
Yes, the General Altimax Arctic will be a good winter tire for turnpike driving. They are economily priced and have rated well in the studdable winter tire survey category.
Monday, November 16, 2009 by Clark:
Have a 92 volvo, RWD without ABS. Winter conditions mostly wet with some wet snow and ice. Recommendation? Without ABS, are 4 snows necessary?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 by Chad:
Yes, 4 Snows are necessary. Just like matching shoes when we go out. I would suggest a tire from the Studless Ice and Snow Category. Chad 888-428-8355 ext 742
Friday, December 4, 2009 by kate:
trying to decide between Michelin Lattitude X-Ice and Blizzaks LM60 or WS 60. Drive in Colorado, sometimes up to the mountains. Have a Honda Element need 215-60/16. What tire would you recommend?
Monday, December 7, 2009 by Chad:
I will offer two options for you. Depending how much snow you see. If you see lots of snow or need a tire that came get you where you need to be even in bad weather. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 would be best option. Or if you do not see as much snow I would suggested The Blizzak LM60.
Monday, February 15, 2010 by Jason:
Have a 2007 BMW 335i coupe. Looking for winter tires for southeastern PA. Mostly dry roads through winter, but occassional significant snowdriving... long snowy driveway in winter. Considering Blizzak LM60 with 18" rim package, any other suggestions? Should I consider 17"?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 by Chad:
Yes, I believe the LM60 would be the best tire for the conditions discribed. A 17 inch package would be preferred as it's typically less expensive, however the 18 package that is available will work well. As the 225/40R18 and 225/45R17 are the same width the 225/45R17 would not offer a significant advantage. Sorry the 17 inch LM60 is sold out for the season.
Friday, March 19, 2010 by bill:
overall winterforce is good. but i think they are too quick to wearout when you get stuck for amoment
Friday, August 20, 2010 by shawn:
Im between the Xice and the blizzak for my 2008 Altima. With the CVT the altima has a touchy throttle and is quick to spin tires in ice covered roads. My driving conditions from constantly packed snow to snow free interstate on most days. My town is bad about clearing roads but they are eventually cleared and dry at different times throughout my South Dakota winter. My work commute is only 10 min. but I MUST get to work and often at odd hours. Any suggestions to help me decide between the two?
Monday, August 23, 2010 by Chad:
I have driven on both the X-Ice and WS60 and now the Blizzak WS70. I noticed the X-ice Xi2 is a little better on start up. Particularly at busy intersections with lots of packed snow/iced. Now I do feel the Blizzak is better in deeper snow and more stable at highway speeds in the snow.
Friday, October 1, 2010 by Brenda:
Just relocated from the south to Syracuse, NY, and need to buy winter tires first time ever. I'm told by the locals this area gets alot of fluffy "lake effect snow". I've read so many articles re: the best tires, but now more confused than ever. Could you just please recommend the best tire for my 2004 Jeep Liberty Sport, which I believe is rear-wheel drive...which I understand is not ideal in itself. Most appreciative and thank you much....and a bit nervous about my first snowy winter!
Friday, October 1, 2010 by Chad:
Yes, the information can be overwhelming, the size tire we recommend for your Jeep is the 235/75R16. The best winter tire we have in that size is the Bridgestone Blizzak DMV1. This tire is designed to be used on SUV's like the Jeep liberty. You will find yourself looking for the snow in a set of four new Blizzaks DMV1's, as they are very capable in the Lake Effect snow belts.
Monday, October 11, 2010 by Brooke:
I think I am in the same category as Brenda, totally overwhelmed. I live in the Denver area and have a decent commute, some highway some not, and live in an area with large hills. I have a 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid V6 and am not sure if the specs are different for the hybrid compared to the regular accord V6. Can you recommend a good snow tire? Thanks
Monday, October 11, 2010 by Chad:
I would recommend the following tires using the 215/60R16. Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 - Best snow and deep snow traction Michelin X-Ice Xi2 - Best for ride comfort and quite winter tire Continental ExtremeWinterContact. This tire tested Best in our Real World Test drive and Ice Rink testing. If you want a smooth tire the Michelin, best snow traction Blizzak and best all around in comfort combined with good snow traction the Continental.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 by Mike:
I have a 2010 VW Jetta(Golf)Sportwagen with 205/55 R16 tires. I live in western Washington state that doesn't get a lot of snow (this year may be an exception), but we are on a hill and need tires that will get me up and down with snow and black ice. Will be driving mostly on dry pavement. Do I want something like the studless Blizzak/Michelin/Continental, or maybe a studded tire. Understand the Blizzaks wear quickly on dry roads. A local tire store sold me Hankook Winter studded tires for my wife's Prius, but haven't tried them yet. (OEM on the VW are Hankooks.)
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 by Chad:
Yes, the Blizzak WS70 would be the best in the ice and snow conditions but the Continental Extreme Winter Contact or the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 would be quieter and handle better on the dry/wet roads. I see the Conti or Michelin being a good compromise for dry road driving but can also get up the icy driveway.
Sunday, October 31, 2010 by Ruth:
I have a 2011 Mazda 3 with P245/70R17 Bridgestone tires. I want to buy 4 winter tires for variable winter conditions in Nova Scotia - wet snow, freezing rain, snow, rain, icy conditions. I do not want studded tires. Can you recommend tires in 2 price ranges?
Monday, November 1, 2010 by Michelle:
I am moving to Alaska from Connecticut in late November/early December, driving a 2004 Nissan Xterra. Which tires do you recommend that will make the trip comfortably without needing to be replaced when I arrive. Or should I consider getting snow/winter tires (at this point I have all weather)once I hit Montana at which point I'll be heading straight up into Canada for the rest of the trip. Thanks for the help in advance!
Monday, November 1, 2010 by Chad:
I would suggest going to a winter tire as the temperatures along your route will likely be below 40 degrees end of this month or December. Which trim level or tire size do you have an I'll make a recommendation on a winter tire.
Friday, November 19, 2010 by John:
Does anyone have info or link on differences between General's Altimax vs Ultramax? tx
Friday, November 19, 2010 by Chad:
John, Sorry I am not aware of a General Ultramax. The General Alitmax is the General tire line of All-Season and Winter tires such as the Altimax Arctic, Altimax HP, or Altimax RT. The General Altimax Arctic is the Winter tire available
Sunday, December 5, 2010 by Sue:
I just read an article about snow tires, but am still uncertain if I need them in Central CT. It does get cold, we get some snow. Are my all season tires ok?
Monday, December 6, 2010 by Chad:
Sue, I will offer these guidelines on Snows VS. All seasons. If you have to be at your destination no matter the conditions, or if you feel in winters past you slid more or need more traction. Then yes I would go with a winter tire. Also if you wanted to commute a little easier in the snow. Then a winter tire would be best.
Thursday, December 9, 2010 by Ed:
Blizzaks DMV1 for a 2009 Xterra 2WD for ski areas in western NC mountain region? Was thinking of moving up to an 18 wheel instead of OE 16..Is this a good or bad idea?
Thursday, December 9, 2010 by chad:
Ed, Yes, I think that would be just fine going to an 18 inch winter package with Blizzak DMV1's. Typically we go to a smaller size and which is in turn usually a narrower tire. However for this application the tire is the same width if it's a 16 or 18 inch fitment.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 by Hameed :
I live in the Washington DC area but need winter/snow tires for a kia sephia vehicle. It will be driven in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (snow) for winter 2011 (3 months)only by young driver. The vehicle will return to the DC area and probably never be exposed to snowy conditions again. The vehicle is currently equipped with all season tires What economical tyre would you reccommend for this three month period only. Must these tires be replaced in the Spring, and should I consider studded ones? Thanks very much for your advise. Hameed
Tuesday, December 28, 2010 by jason:
I'm deciding between the blizzak and the winterforce for my 08 Subaru outback. I'm not planning on laying down fresh tracks in 2 ft of fresh powder just regular driving in northern NJ. Our roads are always icey and snow packed and we live in the ramapo mountains. Which would you recommend?
Sunday, January 2, 2011 by canuck901:
The Michelin Xice2 were the top rated snow tire by Consumer reports....General Altimax Arctic were a very close 2nd and outperformed tires that cost twice as much. If you're on a budget...the Altimax Arctic are great tires for the price. if money is no object get the michelins. you won't be disappointed with either one
Friday, May 13, 2011 by Tom:
We have an 2002 AWD town and country. Thinking about getting a new Toyota Sienne FWD. We have a very steep driveway. What tire would be best for uphill traction?
Saturday, September 3, 2011 by larry judkins jr:
I have a 1999 camero z28 convt and looking for good snow/winter tires. I live in Wyoming, so we get quite bit of snow. Thanks for your time..
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 by spencer@tirerack.com:
Hello Larry! Are you on the stock 235/55r16, or the alternate 245/50r16 sizes or something else?
Sunday, September 18, 2011 by Nigel:
First off, I'd like to say this site and its research tools are amazing. secondly I'm looking for winter tires for a third time from tirerack. Ran Altimax artics on two civics one with ABS and was glad I did some research because the tires gave me excellent deep/light snow traction aswell as impressive ice braking un-studded in Edmonton, Alberta. What I didnt like was the spongy braking/handling on dryish road 0 to -40 F. I now own a mazda protege 5 buying a set of 195/55/15 considering 3 possibly 4 options... Altimax artic vs pirelli ___ vs conti extremewintercontact vs the possibly X-ice2 because of the price.
Will contis or pirelli impress me as much in general snow/ice performance on the artics while getting a more dryish road braking? Or should I step up and stomach X-ice2

Thankyou
Monday, September 19, 2011 by spencer@tirerack.com:
Hello Nigel. For pure winter traction, I do like both the Michelin X-Ice 2 and the Conti-Extreme Wintercontact. For the money and based off of the performance we have found in testing, I would suggest the Continental tires. The dry road braking should be fairl close no matter what options is chosen, as most will use a more severe winter rubber which can be a bit softer in the handling and braking
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 by Rocco:
I have a 2003 Hyundai Elantra GLS tire size 195/60/15 and am trying to decide between Firestone Winterforce or Altimax Artic for the coming winter months. I can get either done for the same price but would like to know which is a better tire. Any thoughts/insight?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 by Ben@tirerack.com:
Both the Winterforce and Altimax Arctic are good, proven winter tires. I would personally favor the Altimax Arctic.
Monday, December 12, 2011 by Jenny:
Hi,
I have a 2001 Honda Civic, EX and I need new tires. I live in Chicago and the winter is coming! Top of the line tires are probably not necessary as I do not plan to drive the car every day, but enough that I want good quality. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Jenny
Monday, December 12, 2011 by Ben@tirerack:
Please email ben@tirerack.com with your tire size and I will be glad to assist you in choosing a winter tire.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 by Jeff:
We have a 2011 Honda CRV SE and are looking for snow tires in Downeast Maine. The OEM size is 225/55/17. If we were to buy a wheel/tire package, what size is best? I can't seem to find this size in the Continental ExtremeWinter Contact. In the Blizzak what would be best, the DMV 1 or the WS 70? Thank you.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 by Ben@tirerack:
Hi Jeff. Continental did make the 225/65R17 for the CRV SE, but they are gone for this winter. DMV1 probably better in deeper snow, WS70 nicer on clear roads and better on ice. Feel free to email ben@tirerack.com if you have any additional questions.
Saturday, June 23, 2012 by Boris:
I have a 2006 Jeep Liberty RWD. What tire do you recommend for Year round rainy Seattle?
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 by Marshall @ Tire Rack:
Boris,
If using the tire year round I would avoid a snow tire. A highway all season would be much more appropriate. -Marshall@tirerack.com
Thursday, November 1, 2012 by Erin L:
I have a Subaru Forrester 2009 & live in Syracuse, NY & trying to decide whether to go with a studded tire or studless. Which is the best for winter, mostly hilly, city driving?
Thursday, November 1, 2012 by Marshall @ Tire Rack:
Erin,
I would recommend a studless snow tire as they tend to produce far less noise, perform better on dry and wet pavement, and are still extremely capable on snow and ice.
Friday, November 16, 2012 by Jim:
My wife is driving a Kia Optima (v6) and in the past felt really uncomfortable driving in the snow with all season tires (Central Mass) Although she has a realtively short commute. What would suggest that would make her fell more comfotable driving this winter (probably get whomped this year)
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 by Marshall @ Tire Rack:
Jim,
If snow and ice traction are your biggest concerns, a studless ice and snow tire would work best. Two of the best rated tires we carry would be the Bridgestone Blizzak or the Michelin X-ice.
Saturday, December 8, 2012 by Megan:
I live in central PA and I need to be able to get to work in whatever winter weather we have. It is pretty hit or miss here and we have a fair amount of dry driving conditions but when we get winter weather it is often wet snow, slush or ice and we get a big snow about once a winter. I drive a 2007 Honda civic Si and my driving style is very "spirited" on dry roads and I love how fun my car is to drive in the dry. I have done lots of research on your site and think it's fantastic but I still can't decide whether to get a studless winter tire or a winter performance tire. My tire size would be a 215/45R17. Thanks so much for your help!!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013 by Mike:
I have a Subaru Outback 2013. Will be doing a road trip this winter and will be exposed to various winter conditions in multiple states. I will be travelling from California Sierras through the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, to the mountains in Utah, the Colorado Rockies, and back to California. I am trying to figure out which winter tire would be best as I will be driving a lot on dry road between states, possibly rain, and various winter conditions. I have yet to drive in Wyoming during the winter but have noticed on average the temperature is below freezing.
Monday, October 21, 2013 by Adam:
I drive a Mercedes CLK 350, RWD, and I have just moved to Syracuse, NY. I live downtown and work about 2 miles away so from what I've been told the roads are usually very well maintained. however there is some moderate uphill driving involved. I'm concerned about skidding especially driving uphill in a RWD in icy conditions. I appreciate your input on which tires are recommended.
Monday, October 21, 2013 by ben@tirerack:
Adam, it will depend on what is available in your tire size. Generally speaking, I would look for the best winter traction available, to give you the most confidence in tackling any winter challenges you may encounter. For your first winter there, it would be better to find you went overkill on the tire rather than find yourself wishing for more traction.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by Martie:
RWD Convertible BMW 128i, Salt Lake City. Very steep driveway that is often icy and powdery snow that is often wet and occasionally icy. Also travel up moderate to steep uphill UT mts for skiing and activities, more compacted snow and ice.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 by Marshall @ Tire Rack:
Martie,
What size wheels do you have on your 128?
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 by Jeff Parker:
Hi, I have a 7-month old 2013 Kia Soul. I haven't had winter tires on any of my previous cars, in years. However, I've been told that Kia Soul's are terrible in the snow. I've been thinking about the General Altimax Arctic tire. What are your thoughts on that, please?
Saturday, November 16, 2013 by Brad:
Is the Blizzak DMV-1 also considered "Performance", similar to the LM 60? I live in Vancouver, Canada with not much snow, but we do get ice and tons of cold rain. Looking for winter tires for my 2014 Audi SQ5.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by Kris:
Hi,

I have a 2007 Mitsubishi Galant and live in S.East WA state. I am concerned about driving over the Mt Pass and in Jan. here, it is cold & often icy for 3 weeks. I already have 4 studded tires but am wondering about studless winter/snow tires as studded ones are so hard on the roads. Also-- somewhat concerned about the price. Your thoughts please?
Thursday, December 26, 2013 by Diana:
Hello I drive a 1999 Toyata corolla and need ties. I drive 20 miles a day mostly highway but some travel is up a hill and down a semi steep driveway. I only need these tires for winter driving: snow, sleet, freezing rain and black ice in upstate New York near Syracuse. What are the best economical tires I should buy.

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