Best Tires For Winter

Know what’s the worst way of saving money? Continuing to drive all-season tires even when the weather calls for a set of dedicated winter tires. You’d assume you’re saving money by not buying snow tires, but, one accident, and you’d have to pay many times more in hospital bills and your car’s repair cost.

Think that we’re painting an overly dramatic scenario just to convince you to purchase the best winter tires? That’s not true. With the risk of fatal accidents going up by more than a third in inclement weather conditions, you need snow tires regardless of what you think.

With their aggressive tread patterns, flexible tread compound, and excellent water channeling capabilities, the best winter tires provide outstanding grip when the weather conditions are poor, and the mercury is close to or beneath zero.

Best Tires For Winter

Bridgestone Blizzak WS80

Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 Winter Radial Tire

Why are we rating the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 as the best winter tire on the market and not any of its other competitors from Michelin or General? Mainly because it provides excellent steering response, long tread life, and short braking distance in a budget price point.

Features

At the cost of sounding pedantic, the NanoPro Tech Multicell compound of this tire does wonders for its snow performance. It has a water-loving coating that separates water from snow, making it easier for the upcoming features to remove both and let this tire maintain traction on snow.

And what are those ‘upcoming features’ that will remove water and snow? Actually, there is only one feature that is responsible for all that stuff: the directional tread design of this model. Its peculiar design ensures the effective removal of water and snow from beneath the tire’s footprint.

Then come its microscopic bite particles. They tear through layers of snow to help the tire keep your vehicle in your control. Also, the flexibility of the Multicell compound is the reason why you would be able to enjoy shorter braking distances on ice.

To provide these tires with even more biting power, Bridgestone has provided their tread with 3D zigzag sipes. You also get a tread depth indicator which shows how much of the typical winter compound (45% of the tread) and Multicell Compound (remaining 55%) is used.

There is one more feature of this tire which deserves mention here. It contains aggressive block edges which, regardless of the thickness of the snow on the road and the volume of water inside the tire’s tread area, would help maintain the DM V-2’s traction on the road.

Pros

  • Excellent traction in extreme weather
  • Smaller braking distance
  • More biting power

Cons

  • Only negative is their Treadlife

Michelin X-Ice XI3

Michelin X-Ice Xi3

Apart from the fact that they keep on improving, Michelin’s ability to consistently churn out some of the highest quality tires makes them one of the most trust tire manufacturers in America. The X-Ice XI3 serves as another proof of both these claims.

Features

Similar to other winter tires on the market, the X-Ice uses a rubber-enhanced silica-based tread compound. The unique selling point of this compound is silica – a substance that remains flexible in the most testing of conditions to let this tire retain its grip and traction.

Moreover, this tire comes packed with a carload of new technologies. The first of them has made its blocks more compact to increase the number of tread blocks by almost 15 percent. For this reason, the tire has more channels and grooves to evacuate water and snow better.

Next on its tread area are the Cross Z sipes. Apart from featuring the now-common zigzag siping pattern, these sipes have an internal topology in which the tread pattern’s points are either offset deep into the tread or to one side. This arrangement makes sure that the tire won’t flex any more than intended.

Furthermore, a close inspection of tread blocks will reveal the presence of serrations on the lateral and leading edges. They will continue to bite the snow- and ice-laden roads even when the tread block is flexing laterally, or when it is flexing upwards.

The variable angle sipes of this model, meanwhile, are set at three different angles to enhance this tire’s lateral grip. It also features a teardrop shape at the end of each sipe to help the blocks flex more easily. Its central channel is equipped with staggered raised blocks to help the tire grip onto deep snow.

Pros

  • Excellent grip on deep snow
  • Incredible water and snow evacuation
  • Prevents inordinate flexing

Cons

  • Pricey

Yokohama BluEarth Winter V905

Yokohama BluEarth Winter V905

Once upon a time, Yokohama’s ability to offer a mixture of superior quality and reasonable pricing gave it the power to set the industry standard. While the arrival of new players means the Japanese tire manufacturer no longer has that sort of control over the market, it is still holding up its end of the bargain.

Features

Since it is available in a broad range of sizes and in multiple speed ratings, the V905 can be installed on all types of performance sedans, sport coupes, sportier SUVs, and crossovers. So there is no restriction on the model of vehicles that it can serve.

The engineers at Yokohama must have spent hundreds of man-hours to develop this tire’s silica and orange oil compound. We can say that because we’re hugely impressed with this tire’s durability as well as its handling in the most testing of winter conditions.

Yet another feature of this tire that caught our eye was its rolling resistance. Most winter tires you see on the marker roll as if they have plenty of time on their hand. Not the V905. It boasts a low rolling resistance and contributes to increasing your vehicle’s fuel economy as well.

Apart from its unique triple 3-D sipes, the asymmetrical directional tread pattern gives the tire increased biting edges. Throw into the mix its angled lateral grooves and zig-zag circumferential grooves, and you won’t have any problems with its traction on thicker ice and in deeper snow.

Lastly, thanks to the added stiffness in its shoulder blocks, you could count on this tire to deliver increased handling performance on both dry as well as wet road surfaces. It is available in seven different sizes between 16 and 22 inches and comes with two (V and W) speed ratings.

Pros

  • Fuel-efficient
  • Extreme traction and grip
  • Low rolling resistance

Cons

  • Treadlife may be short for those with an aggressive driving style

Dunlop Winter Maxx Winter Tires

Dunlop Winter Maxx Winter Tires

The Dunlop Winter Maxx Winter Tires feature an internal structure that enhances its driving comfort and controllability, while its unique tread design improves its cold weather traction and also has a positive impact on its tread life.

Features

You won’t have any complaints about this tire’s gripping ability. It is equipped with Maxx Sharp Edge Technology, which, by increasing the tread area’s siping density, increases the number of biting edges to help the tire firmly grip snow- and ice-covered roads.

Moreover, since this model features Dunlop’s Nano-Fit Rubber in its tread area, the resulting tread rigidity and flexibility help increase its traction on ice-covered surfaces. While the flexibility ensures that the damage to the tire remains minimal, the enhanced rigidity keeps premature wear and tear at bay.

The presence of wide circumferential grooves means that this tire’s ability to evacuate water and snow is second to none. That, in turn, means that that you shouldn’t have any doubts about its ability to resist hydroplaning when driving your vehicle through deep puddles.

The three mountain peak/snowflake symbol on its tread area guarantees that this model could withstand the harshest of winter conditions. It is also equipped with snow wear bars that help you determine the wear rate of the tire on your own.

On top of everything else, its directional tread design and a continuous center rib mean that the tire would remain in contact with the road at all times. Its independent shoulder tread blocks, which boast a detailed siping pattern, enhance the maneuvering and cornering capability.

Pros

  • Three peak mountain/snowflake symbol
  • Enhanced rigidity to withstand wear and tear
  • Incredibly flexible to provide adequate grip and traction

Cons

  • Available in limited sizes

Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT

Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT

The Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT is a snow and ice tire which uses the combination of innovative features and a flexible tread area to ensure the safety of everyone sitting in your vehicle on snow- and ice-covered roads.

Features

Provided you were asking this question in your mind, the term ‘WRT’ in this tire’s name stands for Winter Reactive Technology. This technology basically ensures that the Ultra Grip Ice has all the features – sipes, grooves, and a flexible tread compound – to roll safely and effortlessly on snow.

That its tread is made of silica-enhanced compound means that it would face no problems in remaining flexible in extreme winter conditions. Also, due to the presence of sweeping and counter-sweeping grooves, this tire can effortlessly evacuate water, mud, snow, and ice from within its tread.

Its 3D TredLock technology deserves all the credit for this tire’s winter performance. On one end, this technology has supplemented the tire’s shoulders with multiple siping patterns. They lock together to enhance its cornering grip and reduce its tread block flexing.

On the other, it has implanted 2D sipes in the center area of the tire. Though not visible to the naked eye, these sipes don’t let their invisibility have any impact on their performance. They make sure of that by helping the tire bite into loose snow and ice, thereby improving its linear grip.

Provided you are facing extremely tough winter conditions, you can fit the Ice WRT with studs to further increase its cold-weather performance. The presence of the mountain/snowflake symbol on its tread area further assures you that it can handle sub-zero temperatures with aplomb.

Pros

  • Mountain/snowflake symbol
  • Excellent cornering grip
  • The option of adding studs

Cons

  • The linear grip could have been better

Pirelli Cinturato Winter

Pirelli Cinturato Winter

Ultra-durable performance? Check. Superior performance on the road? Check. Ability to remain flexible in sub-zero temperatures? Double check. All in all, the Pirelli Winter Cinturato tire has everything (and more) that you might want in a dedicated winter tire.

Features

What’s the first thing that you should look for when checking a winter tire? While a flexible tread compound and grooves for water evacuation are essential, it is the 3-peak mountain/snowflake symbol that separates the best winter tires from the riffraff.

The Pirelli Winter Cinturato boasts that symbol on its tread area. Its presence means you can trust this tire to keep you (and everyone in your vehicle) safe in severe winter conditions. That’s how important/crucial the mountain/snowflake symbol is.

Of course, that’s not the only feature that makes this tire a must-have. While most other tires in this review come with 3-D siping, this one goes one step ahead. Its 4-D siping and tread grooves join their forces to provide excellent traction and braking on snow-covered roads.

Pirelli has taken no prisoners with this model’s tread compound as well. The flexibility of the advanced winter-loving compound means that where it will remain soft to provide the necessary grip in winter, it will become rigid when the sun is out shining again.

Unfortunately, there is one area where this tire could have done a bit better. Its small size range (14 – 17 inches) means that not every vehicle on the road can fit a Cinturato. Apart from that, we don’t have any complaints about either the features or the tread warranty of this tire.

Pros

  • Brilliant snow traction
  • Quiet and comfortable ride
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • Small size range

Yokohama Ice Guard

Yokohama Ice Guard

Designed for use on sedans, coupes, minivans, and crossovers, the Yokohama Ice Guard belongs to the Japanese tire manufacturer’s lineup from 2014. It is a studless snow and ice tire that you can use without any worry in extreme winter conditions.

Features

What’s the last thing that comes to your mind when shopping for a tire? Even if we give you a day to think through this question, you won’t be able to come up with the answer. After all, not even Greta Thunberg might know that some tires are more “environmentally friendly” than others.

However, as the BluEarth branding of this tire shows, it cares more for the environment than most other tires (winter or otherwise) you see on the market. Yokohama’s website tells us that this branding means that the Ice Guard was made using environmental, social, and economically sustainable methods.

There is more to this tire than the concern it shows to the environment. Its high-density tread compound, for instance, is equipped with higher amounts of silica, resin-coated micro-bubbles, and multi-layer carbon to make sure that this tire could hold its own in all temperature ranges.

Surprisingly, the larger tread blocks and the broader center rib on the tire’s tread area resemble those that you saw on the X-Ice Xi3. Though we aren’t complaining about this accidental similarity as it provides the tire with increasing stability and handing on all types of surfaces.

Lastly, to enhance the sturdiness of this tire, Yokohama packed its interior with a polyester cord body and two steel belts. It also equipped its tread area with triple 3-D sipes to enhance grip on snowy and wet road surfaces. Also, it sports the 3-peak mountain/snowflake symbol to assure extreme weather performance.

Pros

  • Brilliant grip on wet pavement
  • Above-par traction on hard-packed snow
  • Excellent treadwear

Cons

  • Average traction on slush

Michelin LTX Winter

Michelin LTX Winter

Whether you drive a heavy-duty vehicle, commercial pickup, van, or SUV, and you came here for an all-season tire that is quiet, durable, and performs admirably in both dry and wet conditions, you won’t go wrong with the Michelin LTX Winter tire.

Features

Two technologies help set this model apart from the crowd. First among them is its GreenX technology which decreases the tire’s rolling resistance to help reduce fuel consumption. That, in turn, means less emission of gasses and less air pollution. 

The second of the two technologies is named ‘Comfort Control’. By increasing the on-road grip of the tire, this technology will minimize the noise you may have to bear during the ride. That, in turn, will let you enjoy a smoother, quieter riding experience.

Snow and ice traction have also been taken care of. Its independent tread blocks keep the tire stable on extra-slippery roads, whereas the 3-D active sipes help increase its grip. The four circumferential grooves, as well as the multiple lateral grooves, ensure water evacuation.

As contradictory as it might sound, the specially designed ‘W/Max’ tread compound of this tire boasts its acceleration as well as braking performance. Apart from balancing two odd ends, this compound also ensures that the tire remains firm when driven on dry surfaces.

On top of everything else, this tire tries to lure the drivers of heavy-duty vehicles by packing its interior with three steel belts and a polyester cord body. Both of them are the reason why Michelin has provided this model with a 40,000-mile tread guarantee.

Pros

  • Above-average tread guarantee
  • Excellent water evacuation
  • Very good treadlife

Cons

  • 15-inch sizes aren’t available

Firestone Winterforce UV

Firestone Winterforce UV

Whether you drive a heavy-duty vehicle, commercial pickup, van, or SUV, and you came here for an all-season tire that is quiet, durable, and performs admirably in both dry and wet conditions, you won’t go wrong with the Michelin LTX Winter tire.

Features

As far as certifications are concerned, those coming from the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and Rubber Association of Canada (RAC) are considered gold standards for winter tires. Luckily for the users of this tire, the Winterforce UV has both.

Provided you drive in extreme winter conditions, you’d find it useful to know that this model is pinned for #12 studs. That means that you can insert chunks of metal in its tread area to get even more traction on roads that are buried under layers of loose snow.

You cannot say the same about its directional tread pattern. While the studs only come handy in winter conditions (for obvious reasons), the tread pattern is optimized in such a manner that it enhances this tire’s performance in both dry as well as wet conditions.

Its relatively lower-speed ratings also come as a boon. Tires that are given higher speed ratings provide poor traction, braking, and cornering performance. Hence the reason why you shouldn’t have any complaints that this model’s rolling resistance is a little bit on the higher side.

Finally, its tread area features high-density sipes that grip into snow-covered roads to provide excellent traction and grip. And together with its three-dimensional tread patterns, the winter tread compound enhances its traction on both dry and wet roads.

Pros

  • Studded
  • Braking is excellent
  • Comfortable and smooth ride

Cons

  • Noisy at high speeds

Pirelli Scorpion Winter

Pirelli Scorpion Winter

Coming from a brand that is famous for its trucks, SUVs, and light pickup tires, the Pirelli Scorpion Winter is also made for heavy-duty vehicles. It is available in multiple sizes between 215/70R16 and 275/40R22, and comes with either an H or V speed rating.

Features

The presence of a silica-based tread compound and asymmetric pattern should tell you everything you need to know about this tire’s emphasis on traction. While the former strengthens the tire and enhances its traction on wet surfaces, the asymmetric tread pattern ensures stability on dry tarmac.

Moreover, its lateral shoulder grooves do much more than channeling water away from beneath the tire’s footprint – a feature you cannot ignore since it prevents your vehicle from slipping on wet surfaces. The shoulder grooves also decrease the braking distance of these tires and improve their overall handling.

Its silica-based tread compound really shines on twisty snow-laden roads. Apart from enhancing its traction (which Pirelli tells you it would do), the mixture also quietens the tire and increase its load transitional characteristics (which Pirelli doesn’t tell), thereby giving a smooth ride.

For the environmentally-conscious drivers among you, this tire is adorned with its manufacturer’s Eco-Impact icons. They indicate that the Pirelli Winter was made without harming the environment. It also sports the Mountain/Snowflake emblem to show that it would do more than well in severe snow.

To further sweeten the package, Pirelli has equipped this tire with a directional tread pattern and sturdy shoulders. While the former gives the tire a round profile and increases its grip, the latter improves its wet weather handling. Its snow booster rides, meanwhile, provide added bite on snow and ice.

Pros

  • Low noise level
  • Brilliant in-snow acceleration
  • Environmental friendly design

Cons

  • Uneven tread wear

Best Tires for Winter – Buying Guide

Best Tires For Winter

Keep the following factors in mind when choosing dedicated winter tires:

Type of Winter Tires

Regardless of the type of vehicle you’re going to install them, you’d have two options when looking at winter tires: studded and studless.

Studded Tires

Best Tires For Winter 1

As their name implies, studded tires have metal studs embedded within their tread area. Studs are metal pieces whose sharp, pointed surfaces allow them to dig into ice, thereby helping them (and the tire) provide extra traction.

On the flip side, studded tires are extremely noisy, especially when they have no ice to bite into. Provided you decide to use them in the summer conditions, their sharp edges might end up damaging both the dry tarmac as well as the road.

That’s the reason why some US states ban the use of studded tires between May and October. You can incur fines to the tunes of thousands of dollars if you are caught using studded tires in these states during the forbidden months. So make sure that you’re aware of your local highway-related laws.

Pros: Provide extreme traction on ice and snow

Cons: Loud; might damage the road if there’s no snow

Studless Tires

In contrast to their studded counterparts, studless tires do not rely on metal pieces for traction. They rely on unique (and flexible) tread designs, advancements in rubber compounds, and other latest technology to provide maximum grip on ice- and snow-laden roads.

Take the example of Bridgestone Blizzak WS80. It boasts ‘Next Gen Tube Multicell Compound’ which increases the tire’s flexibility and helps it maintain traction on snowy and icy driving surfaces. Its tread area, meanwhile, contains bite particles that provide a perfect grip on snow and ice.

Apart from that, studless winter tires have lateral and longitudinal grooves. They allow these models to effectively channel the water from beneath their footprint. That, in turn, helps these tires avoid hydroplaning, a dangerous phenomenon in which the steering’s control over tire becomes zero.

Pros: Relatively quiet; extreme traction and grip

Cons: Not for extreme conditions

Must-Have Features

Once you have decided in favor of either studded or studless tires, make sure that your preferred model offers the following features.

  • Mountain Snowflake Symbol (M+S)

Awarded by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), it’s a signal that the tire can handle extreme snowy and icy conditions. Tires that have this symbol place it in the middle of the tread area to make it easy to notice for the potential buyers.

  • Lateral and longitudinal grooves

Both these grooves are essential for different reasons. Lateral blocks help increase the tire’s grip when turning. Longitudinal grooves, meanwhile, effectively remove water from within the tire, thereby improving its wet handling.

  • Flexible tread compound

One of the reasons why the majority of the best winter tires use silica as their tread compound is because this substance imparts flexibility to the tire which helps it to provide the necessary grip and traction on ice- and snow-laden roads.

  • Zigzag Sipes

Also known as biting edges in common parlance, sipes improve the cornering handling, rolling traction and stopping power of tires. Also, they improve the tire’s braking, prolong its life, and help provide the passengers in your cabin a vibrations-free ride.

  • Treadwear warranty

Do you know the one thing that is common among all the tires in this review? All of them come with a treadwear warranty at or higher than 30,000 miles.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that snow- and ice-covered roads are no one’s friends. Most all-season tires that claim to remain useful 365 days a year cannot provide the necessary grip and traction the moment the weather takes a turn for the worse.

In such a situation, you usually have two options. Either you can sit at home and watch your favorite TV channel, or you could install the best winter tires on your vehicle. While the former option would no doubt appeal to your lazy side, the latter is undoubtedly more practicals.

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