Left: Summer Tire | Middle: All Season Tire | Right: Snow Tire

Executive Summary:

Approximately 97% of the tires in the United States are "All Seasons." They come standard on most Chrysler, Jeeps, Dodges, and Rams. With All Season tires, your vehicle will perform admirably in a variety of temperatures and conditions. However, if you live in an area where snow and ice regularly accumulate, snow tires will noticeably reduce wheel spin and sliding on slick surfaces. You wear different shoes for track running than you do for hiking, and your vehicle will perform better if you change its shoes too.

Summer Tires

  • Shallow tread blocks limit wobble through hard turns.
  • Very soft rubber sticks like bubble gum in warm temps.
  • Fewer grooves and channels maximize size of "contact patch" with road.

  • White knuckles in inclement weather. Cold temps turn gummy compound into a hockey puck.
  • Fewer grooves and channels offer less space to squeeze out rain and snow.
  • More tire noise, especially at highway speeds.
  • Soft compound wears out more quickly.
  • Tire swaps required in Spring and Fall
Snow Tires

  • Fine grooves in each tread block are called "sipes," and they dramatically increase the amount of texture and grip on ice.
  • Softer compound sticks better to ice and snow.
  • Deep voids and wide spaces between tread blocks offer more room to squeeze out rain and snow.
  • Shorter braking distances and reduced lateral sliding on slick surfaces.

  • More tire noise, especially at highway speeds.
  • Softer compound wears out slightly more quickly.
  • Tire swaps required in Spring and Fall.

Answer these questions to see whether snow tires are good idea for you:

  • Do you live in an area with frequent ice and snow events?
  • Do you live in an area with steep roads and driveways?
  • Do you need to leave home and drive when roads are slick?
  • Do you currently have summer tires on your car?
  • Do you stay on top of your auto maintenance for semi-annual tire swaps?
  • Do you have a place to store a second set of tires?
  • Have you had an accident or bad experience with winter driving?
  • Do you plan to keep your car for three or more winters to justify the investment?

Considerations and Recommendations:

  • If you decide to buy snow tires, buy a set of inexpensive steel rims so you can keep the tires mounted on them for easier and less expensive swapping.
  • Though buying a set of winter tires is costly, two sets of tires will last approximately twice as long as one set, so really the only incremental expense is having Planet swap your tires twice a year.
  • In slick conditions, you are going to experience some slipping and sliding no matter what kind of tire you use. A vehicle weighs a couple tons, and rubber meets the road on only four modest rubber patches.

Hard-core options if you live on the side of mountain:

  • Studded snow tires. Studs are metal pins inserted into the tread blocks so you have rubber and steel meeting the road. They're legal in Massachusetts from November until the end of April.
  • Chains. For extreme conditions, you can put chains on most tires, but they're cumbersome to install and you shouldn't drive very far or very fast with them.