The Best Tires for Rain & Snow

by Heather Clark
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When it comes to driving in unfavorable conditions, a good set of tires can be the difference between a safe ride and a disaster. For this reason, many drivers look to equip their vehicles with specialized tires that will allow them to safely navigate through rain, snow and icy conditions.

All-Weather Tires

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In cases where general seasonal protection is required, along with light snow traction, all-weather tires are considered to be the best bet. Snow and ice tires are typically not recommended for areas where harsh conditions are the exception, not the rule. Choosing high-performance tires out of this category usually comes at the cost of some wet traction. Some of the best-rated, all-weather tires are:

  • Goodyear Assurance TripleTred: Combined reviews from various consumer sites in 2009 rated the TripleTred among the best of all-weather tires. These tires were recommended for its wet and dry traction, as well as their long tread life. Cons included higher cost and minimal effectiveness on icy roads.
  • Michelin Primacy MXV4: Though getting some mixed reviews for wet road handling, these tires got one of the best scores in the field of performance all-season tires. In addition to having a top government rating for treadwear, the Primacy MXV4 offers a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty.
  • Yokohama Avid TRZ: Avid TRZ tires have received high marks from a variety of consumer review sites. Among their major selling points are high hydroplaning resistance, affordability and good traction. In addition, Avid tires come with an 80,000-mile warranty. On the downside, some users find that the tires wear down quickly. Performance on icy conditions is not superior.

Snow Tires

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Snow tires, studded and otherwise, are ideal for regions where snowy, icy conditions are commonplace. They are generally not recommended for regions where snow and ice are occasional occurrences, as studs can cause damage to the roadways. Some of the top-rated snow tires include:

  • Michelin X-Ice Xi2: Experts who have tested X-Ice Xi2 tires rank them as superior for handling on both ice and snow. Another major attribute is the tires' low rolling resistance, which makes for better gas mileage. In some wet road tests, however, these tires tended to hydroplane more than other snow tires.
  • General Altimax Arctic: When tested against the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, the Altimax Arctic tires were nearly as capable in ice condition runs. They were found to be equal for handling in snow conditions and actually scored higher for handling in wet conditions. The lower price makes them a better choice from an economic standpoint.

Ultra High Performance All-Season

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This type of tire is in a category all of its own. America is arguably one of the most car-obsessed nations in the world. Those with high-performance vehicles typically do not want to lose steam by way of tires. For these individuals, the best option is to choose ultra high performance all-season tires that will offer protection through all weather conditions. Extremely icy and snowy conditions are still the exception to this rule. Top-rated tires in this category include:

  • Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus: These tires are rooted in the Pilot Sport summer design, with added rubber compounds to provide handling in varying weather conditions. Hydroplaning is minimized with the Pilot Sport A/S Plus, and the ride is smooth. The tires even offer decent snow traction, though not comparable to specialized winter tires. With an estimated retail price of $269, price is the biggest drawback when choosing these tires.
  • Toyo Proxes 4: These tires are a variant of the popular and affordable Toyo Proxes performance series. The secret to the variable traction lies in the specialized "w groove" pattern that effectively dissipates water from the contact patch. While reliable in most weather conditions, snow and ice handling are not one of their strong points.

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