Remember last winter? Will this winter be just as bad? We don't know yet. But, I do know the right snow tire makes all the difference. In order to purchase the correct winter / snow tire, you should decide which performance category works best for your driving style and the winter weather you experience. The three major categories are: Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow and Performance Winter / Snow.
Studless Ice & Snow tires give you optimum ice and packed snow grip, but are less responsive on dry roads. The tires trade a little handling for excellent ice and snow traction. On the dry roads, your vehicle will not respond as crisply or quickly to steering inputs.
Studdable Winter / Snow tires can run studded or unstudded. When studded, they'll give good ice and packed snow grip but will be less responsive on dry roads. When unstudded, they'll perform well in moderate and deep snow. It's important to note that the use of studded tires may be prohibited or restricted in your area, so be sure to check with local authorities to confirm legality.
Performance Winter / Snow tires will exhibit dry-road deficiencies to a much lesser degree. If your vehicle came with summer performance tires, the Performance Winter / Snow tires will be more comparable in steering response, acceleration, grip, braking and cornering grip. They'll give up some ice and packed snow grip. Tires in this category will wear slightly better compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires, especially during the early and late winter days when temperatures are a little warmer. All snow tires will have more tread noise and this will vary from tire to tire. Performance Winter / Snow tires do tend to be quieter than the other performance categories.
Studless Ice & Snow tires tend to be available in higher profile sizes and include the following:
- Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
- Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
- Michelin X-Ice Xi3
- Continental ExtremeWinterContact
- Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT
- Dunlop Winter Maxx
- Yokohama iceGUARD iG20
- Yokohama iceGUARD iG52c
If you go with a Studless Ice & Snow tire, you should consider going with a narrower tire as it cuts through deeper snow better. This is especially true for a lighter car like the MINI Cooper.
Looking for the traditional security of winter tire studs for enhanced traction on ice? Consider the following Studdable Winter / Snow options:
The AltiMAX Arctic is slightly better on ice and packed snow and quieter than the the Winterforce. Winterforce tires will provide more effectiveness in deeper snow.
Available in lower profile sizes, the following Performance Winter / Snow tires are worth a look:
- Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D
- Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D
- Pirelli Winter Snowsport
- Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
- Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32
Is a Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow or a Performance Winter / Snow tire right for your vehicle? It depends on your car, where you live, how you drive on dry roads and how you want to balance the above compromises.
Visit our Winter Tire Decision Guide for more assistance in choosing the right winter tire for your vehicle.
Let it snow.