Your life and the lives of your family rely on those four points of contact that your car has with the road. It’s not hyperbole to say that when the roads get covered with black ice, packed snow, and the hazard of every other fool on the road, you could be killed if you do not have the best rubber you can get to keep your vehicle in control. Wherever you get your tires, whomever you trust with your safety, make sure you do the research and have the best gear available. We suggest these 10 snow tires, but all good recommendations are welcome.
Quick Tips for Choosing Snow Tires
More than anything, choosing tires is about understanding physics and your car. Any winter tire is going to give you more traction than an all-season, so if you live somewhere that gets the slightest snowfall, it’s not overkill to have something with a deep tread for the colder months.
You also want tires that ride comfortably. Sometimes a good grip on the ground means a rough ride in the cab. Sacrificing a little comfort in the name of safety and control is fine, but if you spend a lot of time in your car on long commutes, ski vacations, pleasure driving, or for work, how smooth it feels is going to matter. Don’t ignore comfort ratings, as spending a few dollars to prevent rattled teeth is money well-spent.
A great tire that wears out in two trips is virtually worthless. Keep an eye on the warranty of the tires, what extras come with it – puncture repair, balancing, rotating, service, etc. – and how reputable the company is. Getting a bargain from a local place might not be the best idea if you’re heading cross-country and might need some tire work along the way.
This is your life and your car, so be positive you’re putting both in the hands of a brand that cares about keeping you safe on the road.
General Tire Altimax Arctic
A cheap safety type tire, the Altimax comes in studded and studless options, both of which perform well, though not as well as more expensive options. Don’t misunderstand, these still hold on tight to both snow and ice, they’re merely not going to give you the depth of supreme control coming out of turns that you’ll find elsewhere. The Altimax still accelerates and brakes handily, turns respectably, and works in a wide range of conditions. Think of them as a strong silver medal you can get for a less-than-bronze price. Purchase: $58+
Goodyear Ultra Grip
Quite the inexpensive showman, Ultra Grips are excellent tires for any time of year, giving you a fairly comfortable ride no matter what the calendar says. They cut road whine and slap to a minimum, which is a nice departure from most snow tires that tend to hum like that roommate you “disappeared.” They also bear good tech that makes every one of their broad size spectrum a good buy. Purchase: $62
Michelin X-Ice Xi3
The rubber uses a FleX-Ice silicate base that’s pure magic. When the road and temperature are warm, the rubber gets stiffer for superb grip in the wet and dry. As the mercury drops, the hard sides soften to grab on the slicker surfaces of snow and ice. Purchase: $72+
Continental WinterContact Si
The price and the new name might steer many away from the WinterContact. Don’t let that fear win. Continental has put in plenty to give these an edge over older, more established names. Sipes bite into snow and ice, allowing for quick cornering with exceptional control. They grab and release in a predictable, natural way that works with braking and throttle to give you smooth road movement without as many jolts, skids, or overcorrections as other options. Purchase: $72+
Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v
A studless winter tire, consider the iceGUARD the worst of the best. It’s certainly well-made, using a rubber compound that grips far above what you’ll get with the best all season. From slush to ice, you’ll find a solid hold, though rain tends to cause a little slippage. On dry conditions the tires don’t do nearly as well, so keep these in reserve for the tough seasons, then get a good all-weather for the drier times. Purchase: $76+
Falken Eurowinter HS439
If you want a performance tire without the performance price, but still want some decent engineering for your roadster baby, give the Eurowinter a look. They’re a wannabe that actually clears the bar on a budget. Purchase: $83+
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
Finding the strike zone right between quality and costly, Blizzaks are smart all-around tires. NanoPro-Tech Multicell material helps wick moisture off of the tires as they move so you’re always getting a drier tread. When things dry out, bite particles mixed in grab the road for acceleration that dazzles. Purchase: $86+
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2
Car and Driver essentially put Nokian tires on the map for most people. The small, Finnish tire maker rarely gets much notice overseas, and their ranking as the world’s 19th biggest tire manufacturer isn’t impressing anyone. Then you drive with the R2’s on your car in the snow, and you wonder how you lived without these miracle-workers. Geared to turn your car when other tires literally give up, and able to cope with snow loads and slickness that daunts other options, if you want a seriously impressive tire that has life-saving merits when driving in a whiteout don’t scrimp. Find these and enjoy. Purchase: $87+
Pirelli Winter Ice Zero
The double flat-walled studs are icing on the aggressive cake of this performance tire. Big, thumping tread blocks likewise threaten to kick out or smash down anything that they find in their way. If it’s getting ugly, but you still want something to help you win those wintertime quarter-miles, naturally Pirelli is the name to know. Purchase: $95+
Cooper Discoverer M+S
Typically, if you have a truck or a big SUV, you’ve already got a good sense of what tires you need. Plus, tires play a secondary role to 4-by vehicles. If you aren’t quite sure what to slap on, and you’ve got a beast of a ride to outfit, the Discoverer handles all comers. Purchase: $102+