What are the Differences in Winter / Snow Tire Categories

As you begin to shop for winter / snow tires this year, you may discover there are different classifications of winter tires available. So the question is: "Which one works best for me?"

General Altimax Arctic shown without studs
General AltiMAX Arctic
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 - studless ice and snow
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D


Studdable Winter / Snow

Offering a traditional winter compound and tread design, these tires meet severe snow service requirements and are marked with the "mountain/snowflake" symbol. They have stud holes molded into them to accommodate those wanting enhanced ice traction through metal studs. Some disadvantages are an increase in noise from the studs hitting the road surface. You also have to be aware of local restrictions on their use. A studding service is available at Tire Rack for $15 per tire.

Studless Ice & Snow

Studless Ice & Snow tires deliver studded tire performance without the studs. This is the most popular option as you don't have to worry about local restrictions and the noise associated with the studded solution. Our testing on ice shows these options have what it takes in the areas of acceleration, control, traction and cornering, surpassing that of studded tires. To see why Studless Ice & Snow tires perform so well, watch "Ice Traction Testing: Studded vs. Studless."

Performance Winter / Snow

For those that need a winter / snow tire more for the cold temperatures than for actual ice and snow, this is a great category to consider. Performance Winter / Snow options retain more wet and dry road traction than the other categories. The trade off is they're not quite as effective in snow and on ice by about 25%. These low profile tires are designed to suit winter driving on European highways and are branded with the "mountain/snowflake" symbol.

Take a look at all the winter / snow tires we carry and find one that's right for you.

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