Snow Tires vs All Season: Which are Best for Winter Weather?


Driving in winter weather isn’t for the faint of heart. In Wichita, the winters can be notoriously tricky to navigate. Will it be wet, slushy, snowy, icy, windy, cold or all of the above? Each day is anyone’s guess. However, when it comes to the question of snow tires vs all season for our unpredictable winters, the answer is clear: snow tires.
While we have some surprisingly warm winter days, all-season tires are no match for the traction and safety provided by snow tires.

Family Handyman found that when accelerated to 30 mph, a car with snow tires stopped 66 percent faster on snow and 44 percent faster on ice than a car with all-season tires.

On a blustery winter day, tire choice can be the difference between life and death. While snow tires may be a bit more expensive than all-season tires, the design, engineering and construction make purchasing them a smart choice for getting your car through a Wichita winter in one piece.

Engineered for Winter

When it comes down to it, all-season tires offer decent performance in whatever mother nature throws your way. And of course, brand-new all-season tires will outperform old, balding snow tires.

When comparing brand-new all-season tires to snow tires, snow tires win every time because they have been specifically engineered to provide traction and stopping power on cold, snowy, icy roads.

Think of comparing all-season tires and snow tires as going to your regular doctor for a toothache. They might be able to see what’s bothering you, but a dentist is the obvious more fit for the job.

Weather determines tire material

All-season tires need to provide comfortable, durable performance no matter what the temperature is or what type of terrain you’re driving on. Unfortunately, that means performance tends to degrade when all-season tires experience extremes.

If it is bitter cold outside, the tire material hardens, which makes it more difficult for all-season tires to gain traction.

On the other hand, snow-tires are typically constructed out of softer rubber compounds. This allows the tires to be more flexible and stable on cold, slippery roads. It is important to note that snow tires will wear more quickly and provide less traction when the road is warm.

How are the tires designed?

When comparing all-season and snow tires, you can easily spot the difference when examining the tread design. You’ll notice all-season tires have smoother, less aggressive looking tread to help keep you safe on just about any road condition. All-season tires need to account for snow and ice just as much as they need to account for gravel, leaves and sand.

Snow tires have a tread that is distinctively designed to help you navigate treacherous winter roads with ease.

  • Siping. All tires have siping to help improve grip. These are small grooves that open as you drive to improve the tire’s contact with the road. Snow tires have large, jagged sipes to help improve traction when roads are covered in slush, snow and ice.
  • Grooves. Deep, jagged tread grooves help create more friction between the tires and the driving surface, which increases your traction and helps improve your stopping distance.
  • Pumps. These small holes act kind miniature suction cups on your tires. Pumps suck up moisture and fling it away as you drive to provide better traction on wet roads.

How Expensive Are Snow Tires?

Snow tires are typically more expensive than their all-season counterparts. You’ll need to purchase snow tires for all four of your wheels to reap the improved safety benefits, even if you have a two-wheel-drive vehicle.

While more expensive upfront, snow tires can last up to five years or longer, depending on how often you drive. Since you only install them on your vehicle for less than half of the year, the cost of snow tires can help you reduce the inevitable cost of continuously replacing all-season tires after you drive on icy or snow-packed roads.

Also, consider the improved safety when researching the price of snow tires. Winter driving can be incredibly dangerous. Snow tires are an exceptional improvement over all-season tires when it comes to traction and braking power. Despite the higher price tag, snow tires keep you and your family safe and cost significantly less than a brand-new vehicle.

Considering Snow Tires for Your Vehicle?

Our experienced Service department specialists at Scholfield Honda can help you find the perfect set of tires for your vehicle. Click here to shop and compare tires or give us a call at 316-688-6450 to discuss your vehicle’s needs.