Winter driving on snowy, wet or icy roads requires tires and other tools that will add extra traction for your car. Most people settle on one of three winter options for their two-wheel drive vehicles: all-season tires, snow tires and chains. Each one has its own degree of protection and there are different times when they are useful and other times when they may not offer enough traction. In order to save yourself multiple trips to the car repair shop to have tires changed, you may wonder which type of traction system would be the best for the entire winter.
All-season tires are a combination of good traction and a smooth ride. They also have longer tread life than summer tires, which usually have thinner treads. Some people also choose them over snow tires because they wear down more slowly when the weather gets warmer or drier. You can use all-season tires in some snow and ice conditions, but not if those conditions are frequently heavy in your area. If you live in an area where the temperatures regularly gets to near freezing, and you have a lot of snow and ice during the winter, then it may be best to save your all-season tires for the warmer months.
Snow tires are designed for what their name says, snow and ice. Snow tires have deeper tread and are made of stiffer rubber than all-season or summer tires. They have much better traction than all-season tires. What's also good about snow tires is that they are considered acceptable for winter use in most areas. The only exception is studded snow tires which are often regulated the same way as chains and may not be used in some areas.
Snow chains are the only one of the these three traction choices that are not tires. They can be easily installed and removed without special tools. Chains, especially combined with snow tires, give excellent traction and are often the best choice for driving in extremely snowy, icy, or hilly terrain. Many states, such as California, require them in the mountains under certain conditions. Most states allow them in areas where the snow or ice is thick enough so that the chains can't damage the roadway. Before getting chains, be sure to check your local laws and regulations.
For two-wheel drive, passenger vehicles, all three choices provide traction in wet, snowy or icy conditions. However, all three provide a different level of protection depending on how severe the conditions are. When choosing a winter tire, choose the one that will provide the best protection for most of the winter where you live. If you have any concerns or questions, talk to your local car mechanic to see what is recommended for your car and area.