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Tire Showdown: Snow Tires vs. All-Season Tires

When you live in an area that experiences snowfall every year, it’s essential to have a durable set of tires for a safe ride. Depending on where you live, winter may bring either light snowfall or consistently heavy blizzards. Both all-season and snow tires provide a great sense of security, but each has their own advantages and disadvantages that are worth researching before you make a decision.

Snow Tires All-Season Tires

Temperature*

Colder temperatureMilder to warmer temperatures

Traction in heavy snow

Reliable gripWeaker grip

Handling

AdequateSuperior

Seasons

WinterAny season

*Refer to the Tires Buying Guide for more specific tire types and performance grades.


Snow Tires

Advantages of Snow Tires

  • Superior traction in wintery conditions - A set of snow tires provides superior traction on surfaces covered in heavy snow and thick ice. They're made from a soft rubber that includes deep treads, which helps maximize grip to the road.
  • Improved braking on snowy and icy surfaces - Braking on ice and slush can be difficult with most tires, but the tread pattern on snow tires creates smoother braking.
  • Suited for extreme cold - The soft rubber construction on snow tires makes them flexible in cold temperatures. This allows snow tires to adapt well on harsh roads.
Limitations of Snow Tires
 
  • Poor handling - The increased grip can sacrifice the efficient control you might experience with other tires. Snow tires don't always handle well on icy roads or in extremely slick conditions.
  • Fragile construction - In comparison to other kinds of tires, winter tires have a soft rubber compound that can quickly wear the tread. Driving winter tires in dry conditions and warm temperatures also might cause more damage.
  • Can be noisy - Their deep tread patterns can create a noisy ride, especially when driving on dry surfaces.
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Limitations of snow tires

  • Poor Handling - The increased grip can sacrifice the efficient control you might experience with other tires. Snow tires don't always handle well on icy roads or in extremely slick conditions.
  • Fragile Construction - In comparison to other kinds of tires, winter tires have a soft rubber compound that can quickly wear the tread. Driving winter tires in dry conditions and warm temperatures also might cause more damage.
  • More Noise - Their deep tread patterns can create a noisy ride, especially when driving on dry surfaces.

 

Limitations of snow tires

  • Poor Handling - The increased grip can sacrifice the efficient control you might experience with other tires. Snow tires don't always handle well on icy roads or in extremely slick conditions.
  • Fragile Construction - In comparison to other kinds of tires, winter tires have a soft rubber compound that can quickly wear the tread. Driving winter tires in dry conditions and warm temperatures also might cause more damage.
  • More Noise - Their deep tread patterns can create a noisy ride, especially when driving on dry surfaces.

All-Season Tires

Advantages of All-Season Tires

  • Durable construction - These types of tires are constructed of a thicker rubber compound than snow tires, which makes them balanced in most conditions. All-season tires also have a tread that usually has a longer life than most other tires.
  • Less noisy - Since they don't have a bulky tread compound, all-season tires create less driving noise.
  • Proper handling - All-season tires are made of a special, medium-size tread pattern that gives drivers solid handling and stable traction on wet, dry and icy surfaces.
Limitations of All-Season Tires
 
  • Unsuitable in extreme cold - The thick rubber compound on all-season tires is not meant to withstand temperatures that dip well below freezing. Usually, sub-zero temperatures can cause the tires to stiffen and possibly lose control.
  • Less traction in heavy snow and ice - Their tread patterns struggle to grip or brake efficiently on heavy snow. While these models have solid traction in light snow and ice, they tend to struggle with large amounts of slushy snow. 
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