Vehicle Maintenance: Tires - Part 2c: Winter Tires

This time of year here in Michigan, as well as the rest of the "rust / Salt Belt region", tire sales spike. For some people, an all season tire is all you need. Sometimes, a winter tire is needed. Either way, here is my quick summary of winter tires.
We'll start with the Studdable Snow tires. Commonly, these tend to have a lower cost than studless tires. Suddable snow tires tend to have lower speed ratings than a studless, as well. These tires shine when you need traction on sheet ice, assuming you install studs. (Check your local laws...studded tires are illegal in some areas, as they tend to tear up the roads.) These tires do quite well in the snow and some ice, as well as dry and wet roads below 45 degrees. Above are the brands that TireRack sells.
The Studless snow tires are the best winter tire for most passenger cars on the road. These tires have speed ratings similar to their all-season counterparts (up to an H-rating). As with all snow tires, they need to be replaced in sets of 4. These tend to be limited in their wet-road traction near 45 degrees, though. Check out Tirerack's listings.

The performance winter tire is the best option for more sporty cars, as well as those cars with larger wheel sizes. They tend to have higher speed ratings (Up to W-rating). These tires were engineered for the European market for the higher-speed motorways, such as the AutoBahns in Germany. The High-speed traction does detract a bit from their snow and ice traction, but are still better in the snow than an All-season or Summer tire.

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