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Are Your Tires Ready For Icy Winter Roads?

Updated on May 3, 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..." and still you continue to drive with all season tires!

Did you know, that all season tires are made from a harder rubber than winter tires? All season are great if you don't get any snow or ice during the winter months. However, even if you get a few weeks of icy weather, you are placing yourself and other drivers - not to mention pedestrians, at risk every time you get behind the wheel.

I'm not being judgmental, I have been guilty of the same thing for many years. In my defense, I also know how to drive in the snow, ice, slush and black ice that the West Coast can throw at you at any given time.

I realize that doesn't let me off the hook - I can potentially be just as much of a hazard on the roads as the person who doesn't know how to drive in winter conditions. That is why, this year, I am getting proper snow tires for my vehicle.

All Season vs. Snow Tires

All season tires were designed to be used on wet and dry pavement. For most of the country, that translates into 3 out of 4 seasons. The rubber that is used for these tires is of a harder quality than snow tires, making them more durable for nearly year-round driving. However, when the roads are icy or covered in snow, the hardness give these tires less grip with the road surface and that can decrease your handling and reaction times. The stopping distance with these tires is also a major issue, as it takes twice the distance on snow and ice than on normal road conditions.

Snow tires were specifically designed for slippery conditions and very cold temperatures. The rubber is more flexible to provide better grip and the tire tread patterns have added groove capacity to help dispel excess snow - as opposed to all season, which collect the snow, decreased the grip on the road surface. Most snow tires also have a more aggressive tread pattern that allow the tire better purchase on the road surface. These tires are designed for winter driving, and although will provide good grip on the road throughout the rest of the year, they will wear faster due to the softness of the rubber, than all season.

This test shows the difference between all season and winter tires on snow

This is a longer test on an ice rink and shows the difference between summer, all season and winter tires on ice


Uniroyal Tiger Paw Ice & Snow

There are many options available out there, and as I am in the market for winter tires, I decided to take you along on my shopping trip. Bear with me - I'm a woman and know little to nothing about tires. I figure I have a handle on three important factors - performance, durability and price!

The first thing I did was look for a winter tire sale. I did happen to find one at Canadian Tire, and they had a pretty decent selection.

First up, I looked at the Uniroyal Tiger Paw Ice & Snow tire. It had a rating of 5 stars (out of 5) and a high overall rating for performance and durability - and the price was very reasonable. To read the reviews, please click here.


Hankook I*Pike RC01 Winter Tire

I was also told that Hankook winter tires were one of the best brands to buy, so I decided to check them out as well. They didn't have as good a review as the Uniroyals, but it could also have been the model of the tire, and not the make. This model had a rating of 3 out of 5 stars, with decent durability and performance. Also, the price was unbelievable! For the person who only needs winter tires for a couple of weeks out of the year, this could be what they are looking for.

And to be really honest - any winter tire is better than all season! To read the reviews, please click here.


Goodyear Nordic

I must admit to being very impressed with the tire price. I know the prices can really get up there, and not everyone can afford that kind of expense.

However, the Goodyear Nordic is a very affordable investment, and has an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 with decent durability and performance. To read the reviews, please follow the links in the previous capsules.

I must admit I'm not willing to check out very many makes and models, I'll leave that to others who are more inclined to research! However, the small selection that I looked at for my own vehicle will be more than adequate (and much safer...) for the winters that we have out here on the West Coast.

I would suggest that those people who drive in winter conditions for a full season check out a few more selections including studded tires to be sure they are getting the best tires for their areas. Places like the interior of British Columbia, Alberta, and the eastern Provinces should consider studded winter tires for all round stability.

There are new 'stud-less' tires that apparently are the equivalent of studded tires and appear to be getting good reviews. They might catch on out here on the West Coast - where we can't really use studded tires for the full season due to our copious amounts of rain fall.


Michelin X-Ice Xi2

I did check out one other tire - the Michelin X-Ice Xi2. I do, after all watch some television and see the commercials! This model is a tad more expensive, but I'm sure that Michelin makes a more economical model for a budget like mine...

This model has a rating of 5 out of 5 with a high overall rating for performance and durability. To read the reviews, please follow the links in the previous capsules.

For those of you who don't have the time to go out to the stores, you can shop for tires online - many outlets offer online shopping now - even for discount tires or re-treads - tires that have been used before and re-fabricated. However, most online shops don't carry cheap winter tires - you will have to check out your local tire shops for deals that like!

Well...time to make a decision...I think I'm going to check out that Uniroyal again...


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    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      That would be a great idea, but it might be a hard sell LOL...

    • profile image

      Larry Miller 7 years ago

      Of course the Tire Rack wants snow tires to be mandatory everywhere- it is money in their pockets. Appropriate risk management must be considered. For absolute safety, studs are the best - but they do tear up the roads, what is more important, roads or lives?

      For the lower mainland of BC (Pacific Northwest) all seasons with proper snow removal should be acceptable. In the Vancouver area there are at least 500,000 cars that never leave the area in winter. Rather than equip everything with winter tires for three or four weeks of use, why not take the estimated $150/year cost of winter tires and give the $75,000,000 to the cities to clear, sand and salt.