As I write this, winter will soon be upon us up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is the time that the thoughts of many drivers turn to winter tires. Winter tire technology has changed a lot over the past several years. Gone are the days when your only choices were loud luggy winters with poor handling characteristics which used the same hard rubber compounds found in “all season” tires. Today’s winter tires come in a variety of tread patterns with new rubber compounds that stay soft an pliable in the cold weather to grip the snow and ice better.
I put the “all season” in quotes above because those tires are not really built for ALL seasons. I call them “All Season But Winter” tires. If you live in a place where the roads get occasionally covered in snow and ice, running all seasons in winter is a big gamble. All seasons are constructed of harder rubber compounds with tread patterns which maximize dry and/or wet road performance as well as tread life. If you are running that type of tire on snow or ice, you are essentially asking for traction from a set of bumpy skis. If you are still not convinced that all seasons aren’t a good choice for winter driving, have a look at the series of Winter Tire Test videos produced by the Automobile Protection Agency out of Toronto.