Dear drivers everywhere, winter is here! Regardless of whether or not you enjoy the snowy delights of the white season, you must prepare for it accordingly. Get winter tires, have the battery tested, check the fluids, keep the windshield clear, inspect all car lights, add a coat of wax, build an emergency kit and you are all set for winter! If you dread spending too much time meddling with your car, just remember that taking care of all of these little things will lessen the influence cold weather has on your car during winter months. Moreover, it will also help you drive safely in the winter – your car will be ready for the difficult driving conditions and you will be confident in your driving skills and the fact that your car can back you up in every move you make.
However, when it comes to the type of tires to mount on the vehicle for winter conditions, people are still up in arms about it – winter or all-season tires? Each have their own pros and cons, especially when it comes to them being used in extreme weather conditions. You can check all of them out in our infographic, but the majority of automotive professionals will tell you that winter tires are a must for the season, particularly in an environment such as Canada.
And, yes, the budget does play a big role in deciding between winter and all-season tires. Generally speaking, tires that can stay on your vehicle all year round are a simpler and cheaper solution over buying winter and summer sets of tires and switching them every few months. However, unique features of dedicated season tires designed to function in extreme weather conditions are so distinctive that that makes it that much harder to manufacture all-season tires without serious compromises regarding how they perform in the winter or in the summer.
According to ThoughtCo., there are only a few all-season tires – “winter-biased” ones that can actually perform quite nicely in snow and ice, but give up a little bit of their warm-weather performance in return. Actually, all-season tires use such a tread compound that is designed to stay flexible in the cold temperatures, but not wearing too much in warm weather. Therefore, tires like these perform acceptably in a wide range of conditions, but doesn’t really excel in any of them. If you aim to save a little bit of money on tires, and don’t live in those parts of Canada that have really brutal winters, you should be fine. Otherwise, just buy winter tires, mount them for 3-4 months a year and save yourself a headache. Nevertheless, we will present you with some great options in the true “all-season” tire category.
No. 5: General Altimax RT
General’s tires have a long reputation for good quality at good prices, as well as for paying attention to snow and ice performance in their all-season tires. The Altimax RT is one of the best of their all-season offerings, boasting a high-density tread compound that splits the difference between cold-weather stickiness and warm-weather wear riding atop a low-density compound that is designed to damp out vibration and give a smooth ride.
No. 4: Goodyear Assurance TripleTred
Goodyear’s Assurance TripleTred works to manage the inherent tradeoffs of all-season tires by dividing the tire into “zones” and using different tread patterns and even different rubber compounds in each zone. The outer edges are tuned for dry performance and stability, the inside tread has sweeping grooves to evacuate water and the center is heavily siped for snow and ice performance.
For those of you unsure of what sipes are, we have an explanation at the ready. Sipes are the grooves and channels cut into the tire to evacuate deep water quickly out from under the tread. As the tire tread flexes in contact with the pavement, the sipes expand, forming an area of lower air pressure inside the siping cuts, which then sucks that last tiny bit of water into the sipes providing a firm contact between the tire tread and the road.
No. 3: Michelin Defender
Michelin’s Defender deserves consideration for many reasons. Certainly, their breathtaking 150-kilometer tread-wear warranty immediately catches the eye, but the Defender also performs brilliantly in snow and ice. Michelin has packed a great deal of technology into this tire, including a high-silica tread compound and 3D self-locking sipes. Ordinary sipes increase grip in water and snow, but allow the tread blocks to flex, which increases wear on the tires. Three-dimensional sipes have an internal topology, which allows the tread blocks to flex only as much as they need to before the sipes lock together, providing great grip while cutting down significantly on tread wear.
No. 2: Continental ExtremeContact DWS
The ExtremeContact DWS – for dry, wet and snowy weather – is another of those few tires that has managed to strike a very good balance between extraordinary snow and ice grip and excellent dry performance. In fact, the dry and wet grip of the DWS even exceeds the performance of its summer-only sibling, the ExtremeContact DW.
No. 1: Nokian WR G3
When it comes to “winter-biased” all-season tires, there is one that is simply head and shoulders above the rest. That is the Nokian WR G3, tires so good at what they do that they really belong in a category by themselves. In fact, Nokian gives the WR G3 their own designation of “all-weather” rather than all-season. This Finland-based company knows winter conditions, so it’s become a leader in areas like slush-planing (hydroplaning caused by wet slush), something very few other tire companies have traditionally paid much attention to. The WR G3 has snow and ice performance that is only a small step down from the very best snow tires, while retaining extremely good performance on dry and wet roads. In fact, the dry road performance is good enough that Consumer Reports had trouble categorizing the WR G2 as an all-season, putting it at the top of their “Performance Winter” category—which means that they felt it performed better than UHP (Ultra High Performance) pure snow tires.