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Winter Tires

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Do I need winter tires?


Winter high temperatures in your area are consistently below 45 degrees F.


Winter high temperatures in your area are consistently above 45 degrees F.

Video: Top 5 winter tire questions

Frequently asked questions

How do I know if I need winter tires?

For the most part it depends on the winter temperatures where you live. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If the winter temperatures where you live are regularly below 45 degrees F, you should invest in a set of four snow tires. If you live in a place where it rarely snows and the winter temperatures are relatively mild, like the Southern United States, your all–season tires are probably fine.

What’s the difference between winter tires and all–season tires?

Winter tires are built specifically to perform in winter conditions like low temperatures, ice, slush, and snow. All–season tires are built to handle a variety of road conditions — dry roads, wet roads, and in many cases, light snow. The tread compound of all–season tires can harden in low temperatures, so there’s less traction between the road and your tires. But winter tires use special rubber compounds that stay pliable in the cold, giving them better grip and improved braking, even in extreme conditions.

When should I put my winter tires on my car?

This really depends on where you live, but basically, when high temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees, it’s a good time to make the switch.

Should I get studded or studless winter tires?

In most cases, studless winter tires are going to be a better choice. Studded tires perform best on severe ice. Also keep in mind that studded tires are prohibited in some states and their use is regulated in most states. See studded tire laws by state

Do I have to buy 4 winter tires or can I just put 2 on the front of my front–wheel drive?

Winter tires should only be installed in sets of four, regardless of whether your vehicle is front–wheel drive, rear–wheel drive, or all–wheel drive. Using two different types of tires can give your vehicle a “split personality” where the front and rear are not working together. For the best handling, control, and safety in tough cold–weather conditions, you want four winter tires on your vehicle.

I have four–wheel drive (or all–wheel drive). Do I still need winter tires?

You still need winter tires. Four–wheel or all–wheel drive improves traction by sending power to all four wheels when accelerating (instead of just 2 wheels, as in front– or rear–wheel drive). But 4WD or AWD doesn’t help at all once you step on the brakes. Winter tires improve traction whether you’re accelerating, turning, or braking.

Can I use my winter tires all year round?

We certainly wouldn’t recommend it. When used in warm weather, the softer rubber compound used in winter tires can wear out faster than the compound used in all–season tires. If you used your winter tires year–round, it would end up costing you more than switching between two sets of tires.

What are winter wheels? Do I need them?

Winter wheels are a set of inexpensive steel wheels with your winter tires mounted on them. When you have two sets of wheels, it’s easy to swap out your regular tires for your winter tires. So while you’ll spend a little money buying a set of dedicated winter wheels, you’ll also save money because you can swap the tires yourself rather than going to the tire shop each time. You’ll also be saving the finish of your car’s regular wheels from corrosive road salt and other road deicers.

Do I need to use chains with my winter tires?

No. If you have winter tires on your car, you shouldn’t need chains.

Why do I need to check my tire pressure when the weather gets cold?

As the outside temperatures drop, the air temperature inside your tires drops too. This makes the air contract, lowering the tire pressure. For every 10 degrees drop in temperature, your tires can lose 1 PSI of pressure. The pressure will increase again once you start to drive and the tires warm up, but you could still be left with an overall loss of pressure. The takeaway here is to check your tire pressure more frequently in the winter, to insure optimal traction and control on the road.