Winter / Snow Tire Tech

Are All-Season Tires Created Equally?

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Our most recent All-Season tire test reports that include Snow Traction/Handling results include the following:

Also see our featured dedicated winter / snow tire tests.

Since even the best all-season tire cannot match the performance of a dedicated winter tire in light or deep snow, on ice, or in the extreme cold, Tire Rack recommends winter / snow tires for drivers that are typically confronted by sub-freezing temperatures, heavy and frequent snowfall, or live in more rural areas with minimal snow plowing.

Testing on Ice: Winter / Snow vs. All-Season vs. Summer Tires

Drivers in northern climates face cold, wet, slush, snow and ice every winter, and how frequently or to what degree you encounter these conditions can guide your tire selection. All-season tires are the common solution for drivers that expect to only encounter cold temperatures, light or limited snowfall, or live in municipalities that do a good job of snow plowing.

All-season tires are designed to blend dry, wet and wintertime traction; however, they are not required to meet a minimum level of snow traction to earn their M+S designation. Some all-season tires incorporate the latest tread pattern and compound technologies to deliver balanced year-round traction and handling, while others focus on three-season performance (spring, summer and fall) at the expense of wintertime traction.

Tire Rack's survey results and wintertime testing have confirmed all-season tires are not all created equally when it comes to delivering snow traction. So if you're going to depend on all-season tires for wintertime traction, you'll want to pick the ones that fulfill their all-season promise.

Note: All tires require sufficient tread depth to provide traction in deep, powder snow. As all-season tires wear down, they will eventually be reduced to nibbling at snow rather than taking a bite out of it.

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