6 Best Snow Tires for Your Car

No matter what you drive, there's a snow tire for your vehicle. We've chosen seven of the best snow tires for you to consider. Better hurry — here comes the snow!

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6 Best Snow Tires For Your Car Gettyimages 1210821617 SseditMILAN KRASULA/GETTY IMAGES

It’s well known that in winter driving, snow tires give greater control and safety than all-season tires. Testing has shown that snow tires consistently perform better on snow- and ice-covered roads than all-season tires. The difference comes down to materials and small design details.

Snow tires (or “winter tires”) are made of softer rubber that grips wet, cold surfaces better. Their tread design also allows snow to pass through more easily without getting packed in the tire’s surface. However, according to Rachel Swenson, tire expert and Senior Product Planner at Bridgestone Americas, it’s key to remember that not all winter tires are created equal.

“For drivers who live in heavy wintry regions, maximum snow traction and braking performance is imperative for safety throughout the winter season,” says Swenson. “Wet, winter road surfaces in the day can quickly become slick, icy surfaces as evening approaches and temperatures drop. It’s important for drivers living in cold climates with frequent winter weather conditions (areas where temperatures regularly dip below 45°F) to switch to winter tires to maximize safety.”

What to Know About Buying Snow Tires

Replacing tires on your car requires the right tools and equipment, which can be expensive to purchase and requires training to use properly. Once removed, wheels need to be cleaned of any rust and corrosion before tires can be mounted.

Tires have to be balanced properly before being mounted, which requires specialized machinery. Balancing tires helps ensure a safe, smooth ride and proper tread wear. While it is possible to do all of this yourself, you should consider taking your vehicle to an installation pro to have tires replaced.

Note: Before buying snow tires, make sure they’re the right diameter and tread width for your vehicle.

The Best Snow Tires

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Bridgestone Blizzak Winter Snow Passenger Tire
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Best Overall

Bridgestone Blizzak Winter/Snow Passenger Tire

Unlike summer tires, winter tires need to beat the snow and the chill. Although all certified winter tires are meant for use in sub-zero temperatures, some perform better when the thermometer plummets. These Bridgestone BLIZZAK WS80 tires are among the best snow tires in this regard.

Made with specially formulated hydrophilic rubber, they stay softer and more pliable than other brands in extreme cold. That can mean the difference between staying on course or losing control of your vehicle in the winter.

Tire weight:  27.4 lbs. | Tread Depth: 13/32 in. | Mileage warranty: No

Pros

  • Works on dry, snowy and wet ground
  • Supports speeds up to 130 mph
  • Biting edges for better grip

Cons

  • No wear warranty

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Sumitomo Ice Edge Snow Radial Tire
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Best Budget Snow Tires

Sumitomo Ice Edge Snow Radial Tire

These budget-friendly Ice Edge Snow Radial Tires from Sumitomo perform exceptionally well in ice- and snow-filled driving situations. Serrations in the treads help maximize the bite. These tires are studdable, allowing for even more winter driving control for those who need it.

Tire weight: 22 lbs. | Tread depth: ‎12/32 in. | Mileage warranty: no

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Serrated tread channels for better slush evacuation
  • Compatible with tire studs

Cons

  • Makes a slight vibration sound while driving

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Cooper Tire Evolution Winter Tire
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Best Snow Tires for Ice

Cooper Tire Evolution Winter Tire

The extra-aggressive tread pattern of this Tire Evolution Winter Tire from Cooper Tire makes it a must-have for the most serious of winter conditions, particularly in areas snow-covered for much of the year. Those not equipped with all-wheel drive can rely on the Cooper Evolution for a slip-free snowy season.

Reviewers, like this one from Walmart.com, appreciate the noticeable traction boost: “I live in the snowiest town at the top of a mountain in the snowiest county in WV. Got these on a Ford Focus that I used to get stuck in my driveway after shoveling out. These tires got me out through the plow truck build-up and a notorious part of the road that blows shut. Honestly did better than my Jeep in four-wheel drive does.”

Tire weight: 26 lbs. | Tread depth: 12/32 in. | Mileage warranty: no

Pros

  • Sawtooth center ribs for better stability
  • Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) certified
  • Traps snow in the tread for better traction

Cons

  • Meant to last for only a few seasons

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Nokian Nordman 7 Studded Winter Tire
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Best Studded Snow Tires

Nokian Nordman 7 Studded Winter Tire

The Nordman 7 Studded Winter Tires from Nokian are perfect for folks who do lots of winter driving and need the best possible grip on hard-packed snow and ice. The pre-installed metal studs increase tread aggression, making a loss of control much less likely, even when driving on the slickest of icy surfaces.

Like most winter tires, these come in various dimensions that fit vehicles large and small.

Tire weight: 23.1 lbs. | Tread depth: 13/32 in. | Mileage warranty: no

Pros

  • 3PMSF certified
  • Eco-friendly rubber compound stays flexible in cold weather
  • Includes studs for extra traction

Cons

  • Not meant for temperatures over 45°F

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Michelin X Ice Tire
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Longest Lasting Snow Tires

Michelin X-ICE Tire

With patented technology claiming to change the rubber’s consistency based on temperature, this Michelin X-ICE X13 Tire is designed to resist wear exceptionally well. That means they last longer than the average winter tire. The manufacturer claims these winter tires help stabilize the vehicle during travel.

Reviewers, like this one from Walmart.com, seem to agree that these tires grip the road noticeably better than others they’ve tried: “I am a spirited driver and do not have to compromise my driving until the snow gets too deep. Dry road handling is great for a snow tire. A bit more roll in the turns and longer stopping distances. It is wearing extremely well. I can highly recommend this snow tire.”

Tire weight: 25 lbs. | Tread depth: 11/32 in. | Mileage warranty: 40,000 mi.

Pros

  • Resistant to hydroplaning
  • Snow platform indicators
  • Tread pattern prevents irregular wear

Cons

  • Not ideal for slushy snow

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Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire

Best Snow Tires for Deep Snow

Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tire

Keeping your vehicle on the road with a light dusting of snow is one thing. Driving through a heavy dumping of the white stuff with ease is another. The latter is where these Pirelli Scorpion Winter Tires shine. They’re manufactured with higher silica than other models to improve grip.

For best results, buy a set of four. Snow chains are another option for extremely snowy conditions.

Tire weight: 22.73 lb. | Tread depth: 10/32 in. | Mileage warranty: no

Pros

  • 3PMSF certified
  • Circumferential grooves funnel out slush and water
  • Patented sipes reduce braking distance

Cons

  • No tread life warranty

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Why You Should Trust Us

I’m a freelance editor with expertise in interior design, home decor, gardening and outdoor trends.

Emily Way is an Associate Shopping Editor for Family Handyman with experience researching products and recommending the best designs to consumers. She researched and updated this piece. Way consulted Rachel Swenson, tire expert and Senior Product Planner at Bridgestone Americas.

How We Found the Best Snow Tires

To find the best snow tires, we first researched top manufacturers, focusing on established and trustworthy brands. Then we dove deeper, looking at sizes, specs, materials and everything else that signals a solid winter tire. From there we read dozens of real reviews, ensuring that each pick offers proven performance. Finally, we reached the metaphorical promise land: A list of the best snow tires on the market, chosen after careful consideration.

FAQ

Can you use snow tires all year?

“The short answer is no,” says Swenson. “Drivers shouldn’t use winter tires all year because they are not made to be used in all seasons. Driving on winter tires in the warmer months is not what they are designed for and can cause the tires to wear out faster and may not offer the same driving benefits and performance.”

“Snow tires are designed for optimum performance in winter conditions while summer and all-season tires are designed for summer performance. Drivers mustn’t wait too long to remove winter tires once the weather changes, either.”

While winter tires are more resistant to freezing temperatures, they’re far more sensitive to hot asphalt, increasing the risk of blowouts. In addition, unlike summer or all-season tires, snow tires don’t shed water as well, meaning a higher risk of hydroplaning.

How long do snow tires last?

The lifetime of an average snow tire is up to six seasons, with most averaging from two to four. Winter tires last much longer when they’re swapped out for summer or all-season tires after the snow subsides. As a general rule of thumb, the tread on winter tires should never be lower than about 5/32 inches. Once they hit that threshold, it’s time to swap them out.

“Driving habits, the weather and road conditions in your area and how well you maintain your tires influence how long they will last,” notes Swenson.

Are all-season tires good in snow?

All-season tires offer good traction for most weather, including in the blazing heat and during rainstorms. That said, they’re oftentimes not ideal for anything more aggressive than a light dusting of snow. These types of tires tend to perform poorly in temperatures under 45°F and ice, meaning a higher risk of losing control of the vehicle.

“All-season tires are the most popular fitment in the tire industry based on their convenience and ability to deliver balanced performance in dry, wet and mild winter conditions,” says Swenson. “While all-season tires have developed more winter capabilities, they’re not engineered to deliver the same performance as a dedicated winter tire.”

“Since snow tires deliver maximum performance in winter weather, they are recommended for drivers who live in regions that experience harsh snow, ice and slush for extended periods throughout the season. Features of all-season tires, such as tread design, type of rubber and sipe depth, make them more suitable for milder winters.”

Emily Way
As Associate Shopping Editor of Sales and Deals, Emily helps readers find the lowest prices on the best products. An enthusiastic shopper, Emily is always on the lookout for the biggest bargains. When she’s not searching through flash sales, you can usually find her reading mystery novels or cuddling with cats.