What Performance Category of Winter / Snow Tire Do I Need?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 by Hunter Leffel

As you begin to shop for winter / snow tires this year, you may discover there are different types available. Which leads to the obvious question: "Which one will work best for me?"

General Altimax Arctic shown without studs
General AltiMAX Arctic - Studdable Winter/Snow
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 - studless ice and snow
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 - Studless Ice & Snow
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 - performance winter
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 - Performance Winter/Snow


Studdable Winter / Snow

Tires in this category offer your traditional winter compound and tread design. They meet severe snow service requirements and are marked with the "mountain/snowflake" symbol. The tread is designed to accept metal studs as a traction aid on packed snow and ice. One disadvantage includes 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 and Snow

Through the use of advanced rubber technologies, Studless Ice and 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. In fact, in our tests, results show that studless tires proved they have what it takes in the areas of acceleration, control, traction and cornering, surpassing that of studded tires. To see why Studless Ice and 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 will be more responsive and offer more wet and dry road traction than the other categories. The tradeoff is they're not quite as effective in snow and on ice. 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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