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Auto Maintenance & Care

Best Winter Tires

When the freezing temperatures, snowstorms, and black ice arrive for the winter season, there is no substitute for dedicated winter tires. All-season tires are a misnomer no single tire can perform well in all weather. Unless you enjoy the idea of sliding into the ditch or barrier for something as simple as an emergency lane change, winter tires are a must on your car. Needless to say, it is not wise to leave winter tires on your car year-round as the warmer temperatures will wear out the soft compound within a matter of weeks.

Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 Radial Tire

For driving enthusiasts, the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 is the obvious and best choice. This winter tire delivers the crisp responses and high levels of grip you'd expect from a summer tire, while being able to face the hard conditions of winter. A new silica-based rubber compound shortens stopping distances when compared to the previous Pilot Alpin PA3, as well as increasing low-temperature flexibility. While these tires aren’t meant for deep snow and won't display the same levels of grip on snow and ice as a non-performance-oriented snow tire, they provide excellent traction and handling on both wet and dry roads (as well as in light snow and icy conditions).

The Pilot Alpin PA4 maintains a solid amount of grip overall, with excellent dry pavement stability and responsiveness while ride quality is decent. Unless you live in an area where you’ll regularly be faced with deep snow, the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 winter tire is the perfect choice for the driving enthusiast.

Hakkapeliitta R2 Winter Tires

Hakkapeliitta R2 Winter Tires

Although Nokian is not yet very well-known in North American, this Finland-based company has for years been making the best winter tires available. The Hakkapeliitta R2 is the upgraded version of the previous Hakkapeliitta R, which delivered excellent traction and handling all-around in snow and ice, as well as on cold, dry pavement. The Hakkapeliitta R2 builds upon this, creating a winter tire that’s even better than the best.

This tire handles deep snow with no problem while offering excellent grip and exceptional handling on ice and snow. Stopping distances and dry pavement handling are improved over the previous version, with precise steering and plenty of feedback. Although the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 tires are expensive, there is no other stud-less winter tire offering this level of snow and ice traction and performance.

Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 Radial Tire

Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 Radial Tire

The Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 are essentially performance tires adapted for use during the winter. If you hate driving during the winter months because of the squishy and imprecise feeling of most winter tires, the Winter Sottozero 3 may be a good option for you. These tires provide crisp handling and plenty of feedback, with good traction in both wet and dry conditions.

Although the Winter Sottozero 3 tires do well on light snow and ice, they won't fare as well in harsh conditions as they’re best-suited for mild winters. If you want to be able to enjoy the sporting characteristics of your car during the winter, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 are a good choice, although a bit difficult to justify when the options from Michelin are so good.

Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D Tire

Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D Tire

Dunlop touts their SP Winter Sport 3D tires as an extremely high-performance choice that offers the best traction in any winter condition thrown at you. The Winter Sport 3D is indeed an impressive tire with several ingenious design elements. The sipes are designed to lock together in dry conditions to eliminate the mushy handling that winter tires are so infamous for. At the same time, they expand and flex when needed to provide a boost of traction in snow. The tire compound contains reactive silica which helps the material remain compliant even when the outside temperature drops way below freezing. Without a doubt, the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D is a highly capable tire that maintains high traction levels on every surface.

Bridgestone BLIZZAK LM-60 2 BSW Winter Tires

Bridgestone BLIZZAK LM-60 2 BSW Winter Tires

Winter no longer means that your sporty performance car needs to be locked away for the season. This tire comes in appropriate sizes for performance car applications and features winter traction that inspires confidence behind the wheel. Though the unique Multicell compound is not available on the LM-60 due to speed rating issues, Bridgestone compensates for that with a high silica-content rubber compound designed to keep the rubber pliable even in extreme conditions. Along with the tread design, this helps the LM-60 maintain high traction levels in frostbite conditions. The lateral sipes allow this tire to dig through the snow, and the grooves give water and slush plenty of room to escape from underneath the contact patch. The Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 offers the kind of performance that will have you enjoying winter driving conditions instead of trembling in fear of them.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 Studded Tire

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 Studded Tire

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 Studded tires are probably the best winter tires available today. The unique stud design allows these tires to claw into ice and packed snow while special rubber compounds and tread design enhance grip and handling.

The previous version of this tire, the Hakkapeliitta 7 Studded, held the Guinness land speed record for a car on ice until it was supplanted by the current Hakkapeliitta 8 Studded winter tire. These tires handle extreme winter conditions outstandingly well, with users commenting that even driving on sheer ice feels like regular pavement.

Performance and handling are predictable and controllable with a feeling of driver confidence at all times. Perhaps the only downside to these tires is they’re not suitable for dry and wet performance, as the case with all studded tires. However, for extreme winter conditions, it’s almost impossible to do any better.

Nokian Nordman 5 Studded

Nokian Nordman 5 Studded

Experienced winter drivers know that Nokian offers some of the absolute best winter tires out there. The Nordman 5 Studded tire offers a sturdy design and relentless roadside grip in harsh winter conditions. The tread pattern on the Nordman 5 Studded tires was first used in the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5s, while the unique stud design ensures a claw-like grip on ice and packed snow.

These studded winter tires offer excellent stability and good handling, giving the impression of being in much less harsh conditions. Although like all studded tires, the Nordman 5 Studded are not well-suited to wet or dry pavement use, they are an excellent overall option for a studded winter tire.

Pirelli Winter Carving Edge Studded Winter Tires

Pirelli Winter Carving Edge Studded Winter Tires

Though the Pirelli Winter Carving Edge is not a true studded tire in that it comes studded straight from the factory, its stud-like tread pattern allows it to qualify for this list. Developed from racing applications, the Winter Carving Edge boasts high levels of traction on snow, ice, and slush. The stud openings accept standard TSMI #12 studs, and go a long way towards enhancing traction on slippery surfaces and even glare ice.

Though the Winter Carving Edge features sharp reflexes on winter-beaten surfaces, its dry and wet performance suffers due to the nature of the metal studs. The Pirelli Winter Carving Edge is a great tire overall, and its affordable pricing only adds to the overall value.

General AltiMAX Arctic Winter Tire

General is known for making solid, affordable, workhorse-like tires. The General Altimax Arctic winter tires are studdable, although these tires perform well, with or without the studs installed. Like most of General's tires, these tires are not flashy, but offer excellent value for the money.

The Altimax Arctic tires are sure-footed on snow and ice, although they aren’t as well-suited for deep snow for especially extreme conditions. However, they provide a smooth ride and long-lasting tread life. For average winter conditions, the General Altimax Arctic studdable winter tires offer excellent performance for the money.

Firestone Winterforce Studded Winter Tires

Firestone Winterforce Studded Winter Tires

Though known mostly for high-performance summer rubber like the Firehawk, Firestone makes a great studdable winter tire. The tread pattern of the Winterforce may resemble an all-season tire, but upon closer inspection reveals tread blocks packed with sipes to enhance snow traction. The Winterforce accepts TSMI #12 studs for additional traction on ice and slippery roads.

It’s important to remember that dry and wet traction decreases with studded tires, and that driving on dry roads with studded tires can damage the road surface. Keep these restrictions in mind, and the Firestone Winterforce is a great way to get studded winter tires for your car if you’re on a tight budget.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV Studded Winter Tires

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV Studded Winter Tires

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV offers the ultimate studded winter tire for your SUV or truck. The unique stud design and tread design on the Hakkapeliitta 8 has been adapted to a tire durable enough for use with larger, heavier vehicles. These tires offer the best grip and handling from a studded winter tire available today, with the ability to make even sheer ice feel like a paved road. The tread design allows these tires to effectively evacuate water and slush, keep contact with the ground and providing relentless grip in even the most extreme winter conditions.

A full review of the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 can be found here.

Hakkapeliitta LT2 Studded Winter Tire

Hakkapeliitta LT2 Studded Winter Tire

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta line of winter tires is widely praised as being the best winter tires available today, regardless of price. The Hakkapeliitta LT2 continues with this trend, offering outstandingly high levels of traction for SUVs. These tires offer the relentless grip characteristic of Nokian winter tires, while being durable and extra sturdy for use on heavy SUVs and 4x4 vehicles.

Performance is stable and secure on both snow and ice, with confidence-inspiring handling even in extreme weather conditions. Grooves allow this tire to effectively disperse water and slush, while the Hakkapeliitta LT2 offers a comfortable ride without too much of the squishiness associated with winter tires.

Nokian Nordman 5 SUV Studded Winter Tires

Nokian Nordman 5 SUV Studded Winter Tires

The Nokian Nordman 5 SUV studded winter tires are some of the best available while costing slightly less than the Nokian Hakkapeliitta models. This tire is available for trucks and SUVs, bringing their high levels of handling and grip to larger and heavier vehicles. These dependable tires are suited to even extreme conditions, making them a good choice for those who deal with especially harsh winters.

A full review of the Nokian Nordman 5 can be found here.

Firestone Winterforce UV Studded Winter Tires

Firestone Winterforce UV Studded Winter Tires

Though the Firestone Winterforce is aimed primarily at the car market, the UV version was designed for use on SUVs and trucks. All of the traits of the Winterforce are retained in the UV version, from the traction-enhancing tread design and sipes to the ability to accept TSMI #12 studs. Adding the studs ramp up the traction levels further still, allowing the tires to bite into just about any rough-weather surface you may encounter during the winter. This tire is readily available and relatively affordable as well, leaving you with little reason not to consider it when shopping for studded winter tires for your SUV/truck.

General AltiMAX Arctic Winter Tire

General is known for making solid, affordable, workhorse-like tires. The General Altimax Arctic winter tires are studdable, although these tires perform well, with or without the studs installed. Like most of General's tires, these tires are not flashy, but offer excellent value for the money.

The Altimax Arctic tires are sure-footed on snow and ice, although they aren’t as well-suited for deep snow for especially extreme conditions. However, they provide a smooth ride and long-lasting tread life. For average winter conditions, the General Altimax Arctic studdable winter tires offer excellent performance for the money.

Hakkapeliitta R2 Winter Tires

Hakkapeliitta R2 Winter Tires

Although Nokian is not yet very well-known in North American, this Finland-based company has for years been making the best winter tires available. The Hakkapeliitta R2 is the upgraded version of the previous Hakkapeliitta R, which delivered excellent traction and handling all-around in snow and ice, as well as on cold, dry pavement. The Hakkapeliitta R2 builds upon this, creating a winter tire that’s even better than the best.

This tire handles deep snow with no problem while offering excellent grip and exceptional handling on ice and snow. Stopping distances and dry pavement handling are improved over the previous version, with precise steering and plenty of feedback. Although the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 tires are expensive, there is no other stud-less winter tire offering this level of snow and ice traction and performance.

Michelin X-Ice Xi2 Winter Tires

There's no question the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 is one of the best winter tire designs available today, considering its high traction levels when dealing with ice and slush. The X-Ice Xi2 is also available for light trucks and SUVs under the “Latitude” name, but the tread design and overall performance is largely similar. As suggested by the name, the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 works best on icy surfaces.

The tread contains numerous micro pumps and sipes that evacuate water from the contact patch while the plethora of lateral grooves provide effective grip in snowy conditions. This is not a sport tire, though the lower speed rating, aggressive tread blocks, and less-than-ideal dry braking performance suggests spirited driving should be saved for better weather.

Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snow Tire

Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snow Tire

Although Pirelli is known mostly for making high-performance summer rubber fit for supercars, they know a thing or two about winter tires. The Scorpion Ice & Snow is Pirelli’s offering for SUV/Truck winter tires, and it compares favorably against many of the popular winter tires sold today. The versatile tread design incorporates plenty of grooves to effectively channel water and slush away from the contact patches, decreasing the likelihood of hydroplaning in a critical situation.

The tread blocks are full of snow traction-enhancing sipes, ensuring you’re not caught off guard by freshly fallen powder. Although the overall traction levels on slippery surfaces are nowhere near what Nokian has to offer, the Pirelli’s Scorpion Ice & Snow winter tires strike a great balance between traction and sporty handling that won’t disappoint owners of sporty SUVs/trucks.

Nokian WRG3 SUV

Nokian WRG3 SUV

The Nokian WRG3 SUV tire marks an update to the excellent WRG2 SUV, which offered true all-weather performance. Unlike most all-season tires, these are actually suitable for light winter conditions, with the ability to handle snow, ice, and slush.

The WRG3 has a surprisingly low amount of tread squirm on dry pavement, making for stable and confident handling in cold conditions. Although no all-season tire will be able to match the outright performance of a dedicated winter tire, the Nokian WRG3 SUV is an excellent choice for those who don't deal with harsh winters, or who need an option to handle awkward in-between seasons.

For the full review of the overall characteristics of this tire, we've reviewed the Nokian WRG3 here.

Michelin Latitude Alpin HP Tire

Michelin Latitude Alpin HP Tire

If you’re expecting the Michelin Latitude Alpin HP to deliver the astonishing traction levels on snow and slush that the Nokian tires deliver, you’re in for a disappointment. The Latitude Alpin HP is not about all-out snow grip, rather, think of it as more of a winter-capable performance tire. The tread design features plenty of grooves to channel water and slush, along with hundreds of sipes that help the Latitude Alpin HP dig into fresh snow.

The ride is compliant without being bouncy, and the handling characteristics of this tire inspire confidence during winter driving. If you own a high-performance SUV or truck and would rather not give up the handling sensitivity of your machine, the Michelin Latitude Alpin HP will do just that.

Hakkapeliitta R2 Winter Tires

Hakkapeliitta R2 Winter Tires

Although Nokian is not yet very well-known in North American, this Finland-based company has for years been making the best winter tires available. The Hakkapeliitta R2 is the upgraded version of the previous Hakkapeliitta R, which delivered excellent traction and handling all-around in snow and ice, as well as on cold, dry pavement. The Hakkapeliitta R2 builds upon this, creating a winter tire that’s even better than the best.

This tire handles deep snow with no problem while offering excellent grip and exceptional handling on ice and snow. Stopping distances and dry pavement handling are improved over the previous version, with precise steering and plenty of feedback. Although the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 tires are expensive, there is no other stud-less winter tire offering this level of snow and ice traction and performance.

Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 Radial Tire

For driving enthusiasts, the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 is the obvious and best choice. This winter tire delivers the crisp responses and high levels of grip you'd expect from a summer tire, while being able to face the hard conditions of winter. A new silica-based rubber compound shortens stopping distances when compared to the previous Pilot Alpin PA3, as well as increasing low-temperature flexibility. While these tires aren’t meant for deep snow and won't display the same levels of grip on snow and ice as a non-performance-oriented snow tire, they provide excellent traction and handling on both wet and dry roads (as well as in light snow and icy conditions).

The Pilot Alpin PA4 maintains a solid amount of grip overall, with excellent dry pavement stability and responsiveness while ride quality is decent. Unless you live in an area where you’ll regularly be faced with deep snow, the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 winter tire is the perfect choice for the driving enthusiast.

Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Radial Tire

The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 could be described as the opposite of the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4. These winter tires prioritize snow and ice traction over the ability to handle sport driving on dry pavement. Flexible compound and innovative tread design allow for the X-Ice Xi3 to exert an authoritative grip in almost all winter conditions, resulting in tires that are easy and fun to drive with.

Performance is overall improved over the X-Ice Xi2s, with responsive, predictable handling and short stopping distances. The X-Ice Xi3 functions much like a good all-season tire in cold conditions, with less of the tread squirm or imprecision usually seen with winter tires with good hydroplaning resistance. Once they hit snow or ice, these stud-less winter tires show they’re some of the best available for the price.

Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 Tires

Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 Tires

While the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 is an excellent winter tire, it doesn’t come in all sizes due to its design as a high-performance tire. For general passenger car usage, there’s the Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3. Most of the desirable characteristics of the Pilot Alpin PA3 remain intact, with a small increase in deep snow traction.

While the Primacy Alpin PA3 may not offer the same sporty feel and responsive handling characteristics of the Pilot Alpin PA3, the H-rated Primacy Alpin PA3 provides excellent snow and slush traction and enough handling sensitivity to deal with nearly any winter condition you may encounter. Consider this a touring winter tire compared to the performance winter tire that the Pilot Alpin PA3 represents.

Nokian WRG3 All Season Tires

Nokian WRG3 All Season Tires

Finland-based  Nokian isn’t well-known in North America, but they’re the manufacturers of some of the best winter tires for the harshest conditions in the world. This company makes the WRG3, which is ostensibly the closest you can come to a real all-weather tire. That's right, the Nokian WRG3 is technically an all-season tire, but they perform better than many dedicated winter tires on the market.

Although these tires won’t deliver the same sort of summer driving performance as dedicated summer tires, they offer a surprising level of high-speed handling and very little of the tread squirm associated with winter tires. The WRG3 tires offer good overall amount of grip in winter conditions as the ride is firm but smooth, and road noise is reasonably low. While these tires won't win any awards for objective performance, they do offer excellent all-around traction and handling with enough of a winter bias to make them suitable for year-round use.

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