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Here's an all-too familiar winter driving scene: the roads are dusted with slippery, powdery snow and the all-season tires that came with your car seem to be getting the job done. Until your back wheels start to fishtail. Or you brake for a traffic light -- and your car keeps rolling (skating?) toward that icy intersection for several more seconds.

Opt out of those nerve-wracking moments this winter. Get snow tires. Get your brakes, your traction (and your confidence) back.

Snow tires (also called winter tires) provide better traction and braking on winter roads compared to all-season tires, summer tires, or performance tires. The main advantages of snow tires come from cold-friendly rubber composition and precipitation-friendly tread design:

  1. Deeper Tread Depth: Snow tire treads can grip though surface snow and slush.

  2. Groovy Tread Patterns: Snow tire tread patterns have more grooves, to increase the surface area for traction.

  3. Wider Siping: Snow tire edges often feature more open channels called siping to evacuate water.

  4. Softer Rubber: Snow tire rubber is formulated to stay flexible in temperatures below 45 °F / 7 °C (where other tires may develop cracks and premature wear).

In warmer weather (temperatures regularly above 45 °F / 7 °C) store snow tires away from heat, light, air, and moisture to protect them from rubber breakdown and dry rot.

  1. Choose a cool, dry, preferably dark location to store your winter tires. First choice: A climate-controlled storage area. Second choice, a basement.
  2. Clean and dry each tire.
  3. Place each tire in a plastic garbage bag.
  4. Remove as much air as possible from each bag.
  5. Store each tire upright if space permits.
  6. Shield the tires from light: Ensure that the storage area is kept dark, or place light-blocking materials on and around the tires.
  • Consumer Reports tested 53 models of all-terrain, all-season, and dedicated winter/snow truck tires, and published the results on March 16, 2017. Read the test results here.
  • Consumer Reports tested 50 models of winter tires after removing 50% of tread from the tires (resulting in testing tread depths of 5/32”-6/32”), and published the results on February 10, 2018. Read the test results here.
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