Winter is the time of year that tests your tires the most. Winter tires must have excellent stopping power and grip on snow, ice, wet and slushy roads. Traction and long wear-life on cold, dry roads is also needed. There are hundreds of different winter tire styles from dozens of brands. To simplify your next winter tire purchase decision, here is our list of good, better and best options to keep you and your family safe this winter.
Good – The Antares Grip 20 Winter Tire:
Antares Tires are made in China and have been imported to the US and Canada for decades. The North American distributor specifies the performance levels needed, and co-develop the products according to the needs of the vehicles, roads and weather conditions here in Northern US and Canada. The result is very reliable tires, at the most affordable prices.
The Antares Grip 20 winter tire tread has lots of sipes. These are small zig-zag shaped cuts in the tread blocks that flex open under torque. Sipes give the tire dozens of extra biting edges for snow and ice traction as the tire turns through the contact area with the road. Like some much more expensive winter tires, Antares Grip 20 winter tires have a solid center rib for improved on-center feel. This means better handling, as well as more rubber in contact with the road. The large road contact surface area is very important for maximum traction on ice and dry, cold roads.
A differentiating feature of the Antares Grip 20 tires, compared to other tires at this price point, is the Severe Service Winter Tire Designation. Any tire with this designation has a mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall. This means it meets specific snow traction performance requirements set by the Rubber Manufacturer’s of America and the Rubber Association of Canada. This symbol on the Antares Grip 20 winter tire is an added assurance that even though this is a cheap tire imported from China, the product is good quality and meets the needs of the North American market.
Better – The Firestone Winterforce Tire
For the money, Firestone Winterforce tires deliver a lot of added features and benefits not found in other mid-price range winter tires. There is one tread pattern for all types of cars, SUVs, and Crossovers, and one tread for heavy duty pick up trucks and commercial vans.
The Firestone Winterforce tire is for cars, minivans and crossovers, and the Winterforce UV tire is for trucks, larger crossovers and sport utility vehicles. These tires have a directional tread pattern with tread blocks covered in a large number of sipes. These are 3-D, zig-zag sipes that make the tire more stable because the block elements interlock when cornering. This is Bridgestone/Firestone’s latest technology to help deliver grip on snow, wet roads and traction on ice, while still providing good handling on dry roads. Firestone Tires recognizes that in most parts of the northern US, roads are dry and clear of snow the majority of the time even in the middle of winter. Dry road handling is important, and these Firestone Winterforce tires deliver the handling and ride you would expect from a well-known brand at mid-tier pricing. All Firestone Winterforce tires carry the Severe Snow Performance Mountain-Snowflake marking, and the tires can be studded for extra ice and snow traction as well.
If you drive a pick-up truck or are a tradesperson with a van or truck that is frequently loaded with equipment or in job sites that require extra all-terrain traction, then the Firestone Winterforce LT tire is the right tire for you. It is only available in the LT sizes. It has extra reinforcements under the tread and in the side of the tire for more load capacity and protection from road hazards. The tread has wider grooves between the tread blocks which provides the driver with more traction in mud and slush conditions common on job sites or gravel roads.
Prices vary by size, but on average, Firestone Winterforce tires are in the middle of the price range. The above average performance of the Winterforce tires, and positive customer feedback, makes all the various models of Winterforce tires our best pick for mid-range, “better” tires.
Best – Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme S Tires
For a tire to be a “best” recommendation, it must perform well in all winter conditions, and have superior wear-life, ride and handling. Vredestein Tires is based in The Netherlands, and is mainly focused on building the best winter tires possible. Unlike most other tire manufacturers that expand their product offer to include winter tires, Vredestein started with making winter tires. In fact, for many years, that is all Vredestein tires was known for. This single minded focus paid off with tires that provide outstanding grip on ice and snow, excellent handling on cold dry roads as well as long tread-life.
While there are various tread styles, our best selling Vredestein tire with the most amount of sizes for cars, SUVs, and CUVs is the Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme S tire. It has a chevron shaped, directional tread pattern, with wide circumferential grooves separating the center part of the tread from the rows of tread blocks on the outer shoulders. This type of tread pattern puts the most amount of rubber in contact with the road, to ensure the maximum amount of biting edges per square inch. In addition to sipes, the Vredestein is designed to take studs. When metal studs are installed in the molded holes in the tread, the tire has even more traction on ice and snow covered roads.
To deliver long tread-life in their winter tires, Vredestein has developed tread compounds that stay flexible in cold weather. You can squeeze the tread block and easily flex the rubber between your thumb and finger. In addition to more flex in mild temperatures, the rubber has a lower “glass transition” point. This means that the rubber stays soft at temperatures even well below the freezing point. The advantage is more traction on cold dry roads. To improve wet grip, and preserve long tread-life at typical spring or fall temperatures the Vredestein has added silica to the tread rubber. Silica in tires increases the cost of manufacturer but provides very important safety benefits that you would expect from premium tires in our “best” category.
Fast and Easy Ordering and Shipping
Tires-Easy.com has all these winter tires, and a full range of other brands available at great prices. Visit tires-easy.com and use the tire selector tool and detailed product descriptions to find the right winter tire quickly and easily from the comfort of home.