Winter Tires or All-Season Tyres? See this for Some Big Surprises! (Video)

Which is better on winter roads: a two-wheel drive car with winter tires or a similarly-sized four-wheel drive vehicle (such as an SUV or pick-up truck) with all-season tyres?

How much do you genuinely know about tire grip and traction — and therefore about safety — on winter roads?

Photo showing a pick-up truck that has spun-off the highway, on snow.
Look at the vehicles that you see spun-off from snow or ice. You will be shocked how many of them are four-wheel-drive SUVs or pick-up trucks, which shows that the drivers don’t know the difference between traction and grip, for their tires. Winter or snow tires are far better than all-season even when it’s just cold, let alone when there actually is snow or ice. (Copyright image.)

 Before watching the video clip that is linked below, try answering the following questions and see whether you get them all correct:

  1. Which can accelerate quickest from a standstill on slippery, winter roads: a two-wheel drive [2WD] car with winter tires or a similarly-sized four-wheel drive [4WD] vehicle (such as an SUV or many pick-up trucks) with all-season tires?
  2. Which can brake and stop quickest on slippery, winter roads: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized 4WD vehicle with all-season tires?
  3. Which has the best/safest grip on a slippery curve in winter: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized 4WD vehicle with all-season tires?
  4. Which can get UP a slippery hill most easily in winter: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized, 4WD vehicle with all-season tires.
  5. Which can drive DOWN a slippery hill most safely in winter: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized 4WD vehicle with all-season tires?

Now watch this extremely informative video clip about seasonal use of tires, from Autocar.

Photograph of the tread surface of a Bridgestone Blizzack winter tire.
The tread surface of a new Bridgestone Blizzack winter tire. All good winter tyres use special rubber compounds which retain pliability and grip, even at very low temperatures, and this extremely important for safety. (Copyright image. Eddie Wren, 2017.)

Remember, too, that despite their name, snow tyres or winter tires can be very beneficial even when there is no snow or ice.  The rubber compound that’s used to construct them can give your vehicle significantly better grip whenever the road surface temperature simply falls below 45 degrees fahrenheit (7 Celsius), however using them for long periods above those temperatures can cause heavy wear and also reduce tire grip on the asphalt.

There’s also an article on snow tires vs all-season tyres at Consumer Reports, although it doesn’t say enough about that important road temperature aspect.

Are you surprised by the answers?  ADoNA defensive driving courses run year-round and can specifically include safe winter driving.



Also see:  Don’t Trust Tire Shops or Car Mechanics to Put Correct Pressures in Your Tires!

Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

6 thoughts on “Winter Tires or All-Season Tyres? See this for Some Big Surprises! (Video)”

  1. Great article and video link to Autocar—thank you! I’ve found winter tires to be my FWD Honda Accord’s best friend during cross-country drives between Washington State and Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in the treacherous winter months. And I can get through just about any situation with winter tires on my AWD vehicles as well. One winter tire I’d really like to try is Nokian
    Hakkapeliitta R2, a Finnish tire. They are pricey but seem to way outperform Michelins and Bridgestone equivalents, according to this Car & Driver article:

    1. Sorry, John, I inadvertently missed seeing this comment from you sooner.

      Yes, I agree. The two most dangerous things in winter driving are the assumptions that even the best winter tires will always infallibly provide excellent grip (tell *that* to sheet ice!) or — even worse — that vehicles with four-wheel- or all-wheel-drive likewise have infallible grip. Indeed, as long as nobody is hurt, it is mildly amusing to see all the 4-w-d SUVs and pick-up trucks stuck in deep snow on wide medians or roadsides because their drivers failed to be sensible about winter driving conditions.

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