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The Best Winter Tires for Sale This Winter

The safety of you, your passengers, and other people on the road is your number one concern when you're driving in the winter time. That's why you want the very best winter tires - but you don't want to spend a ton of money for only one season.

With the approaching seasonal shift at hand, people will be cozying up inside and enjoying, (or dreading) the coming cold. For those of you who have to venture outside, the number one concern as usual is the road conditions, and this list will cover the top ten winter tires to weather you through even the blackest of ice.

Primarily, the function of winter tires that is most attractive is a heightened sense of safety. Winter tires grip better than all-season tires principally because their rubber stays soft and sticks to the road better under 47 degrees fahrenheit (8°C), while all-season tires harden up and become more slick. Better grip means less sliding, better braking, and a safer road in general.

Now, besides the important safety function of winter tires, there is the added benefit of lowering your car insurance. According to Insurance Hotline, many insurance providers offer reduced insurance rates if you ask about and show proof of purchase of winter tires.

Winter tires grip better than all-season tires principally because their rubber stays soft and sticks to the road better under 47 degrees fahrenheit (8°C), while all-season tires harden up and become more slick.

What to look for when shopping for winter tires

Below are some general features to inspect in any given model of winter tire:

  • Tread - Tread design and depth is very important. Ideally, you want deep treads with patterns that direct incoming snow and slush outward.
  • Bite - The bite of a tire relates to how many sipes (tiny slits in the rubber) line the exterior, which improve traction by grabbing lots of small particles on the road. The effectiveness of the bite is improved by specific patterns that minimize buildup between the slits.
  • Size - Corresponding to the type of car you have, but also important because more surface area means better grip.
  • Studs - Studs are great for gripping the road when it is completely covered in ice or snow and provide supreme traction. Unfortunately, studs are no use on clear roads and are in fact quite noisy and damaging to the road. Metal studs are more effective on snow and ice than rubber ones, but they damage the road more too.
  • Type of Rubber - The chemical composition of the rubber will determine its relative softness or hardness and how those effects change depending on temperature. Soft rubber that stays soft in very cold weather grips better than any kind of harder rubber in similar conditions.
  • Pricing - Ideally you will not want to spend too much on these tires, as they will only be useful during the times of the year when roads are partially or fully covered by ice or snow. At the same time, you also don't want cheap tires that fail during a crucial moment. If you live in a climate where you will spend a minimum of 4 months diving through snowy weather, then good snow tires are well worth the investment.

 Lets look at ten models of winter tires.

1) Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 available for $113 on Amazon

Key features
  • Built in chemical compounds that improve grip in below freezing
  • Tread pattern designed to channel away slush
  • Bite has a zig-zag pattern to improve traction
  • Stopping power on snow

Bridgestone’s Blizzak brand of winter tires are designed and engineered by a team of professional chemists and tire designers to deliver the most effective winter tire on the market.

The WS80 is designed for use in coupes, compacts, minivans and sedans to provide maximum control in icy road conditions. You can pick these tires up for the average cost of decent quality tires, and they’re sold in fours exclusively.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

A combination of hydrophilic (water-loving) coating and microscopic particles that improve the tire’s bite are built into the tire’s chemical compound, allowing it to operate flexibly below freezing.

The tread pattern further improves traction, combining groves that run across the tire as well as groves that run down it to help channel buildup away from the treads. The tire’s sipes designed in a zig-zag pattern that improves traction, too.

What's not so good about it?

For those people who want studs, the best this tire has got are microscopic ones. Some customers have received defective tires, which have caused vibrations unrelated to other car functions.

Pros:
  • Advanced traction technology
  • Flexible
Cons:
  • Not studdable
  • Some customers have received defective tires

2) Michelin X-Ice Xi3 available for $171 on Amazon

Key features
  • Micro-pumps to decrease buildup
  • Zig-zagging, offset overlapping sipes
  • Visual indicator molded in to indicated effectiveness after wear
  • Lasts for 60,000km

Michelin is a household name in the tire industry, the Michelin man being the popular and well-loved mascot. The X-Ice Xi3 is on of their more advanced winter-focused tires, with some all-terrain capacities and a dedicated low fuel-consumption design.

These tires will run you about twice as much per tire as the WS80’s, but can be bought individually in spite of their recommendation to be used in sets of four (so they are easier to replace).

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The X-Ice is made with a silica-based compound that they advertise as being able to harden in hot, dry weather and become flexible in cold weather.

The tire is designed with micro-pumps and a zig-zagging, offset overlapping sipes for improves traction and hydroplane reduction.

Molded into the tread groves is a visual indicator that tells the driver when the tires are wore to a point of ineffectiveness in deep snow.

What's not so good about it?

The X-Ice is studless, and not all available sizes offer Green-X technology, which is meant to reduce fuel consumption. The price, for the available features, seems a bit high.

Some customers have experienced hydroplaning problems as if they did not have winter tires, because these tires are designed to be used in icy as well as dry conditions and are therefore a compromise rather than a true winter-only tire. Not all customers have had this experience, though, so it’s important to read individual reviews carefully.

Pros:
  • Unique compound and bite designs for better traction
  • Visual indicator of wear
Cons:
  • Price
  • Compromise between winter/all-season hurts performance

3) Firestone Winterforce

Key features
  • Studdable with metal studs
  • Patented tread patten and high sipe density
  • Flexible rubber in cold conditions
  • Great for severe snow

Firestone tires began in 1900, invented the tread pattern to reduce traction, and has a history in producing racing tires to withstand the pressure and heat of events like the Indy 500. With this brand, you know that you are in good hands.

The studdable Winterforce series of tire is a dedicated winter-weather tire whose design is focused on maximizing the effectiveness of its traction in wet, snowy and icy conditions.

The price varies model to model, size to size, but the most expensive is less than the X-Ice and the least expense in a bit less than the WS80.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Studs can be inserted at customer request, which provide excellent traction in ice and snow. Even without them the cross and down tread in combination with dense sipe patterns makes this tire very efficient at gripping and holding on.

The rubber stays soft in cold weather, increasing the tire’s grip. The tires also come with a wide variety of designs related to the vehicle type they correspond to, making them better suited to the specific needs of the drive.

What's not so good about it?

Despite being advertised as capable of being used in and out of winter and winter conditions, customers have complained that the rubber is too soft and wears out too quickly in dry and hot conditions. Certain models can get expensive, as well.

Pros:
  • Dedicated winter tire
  • Numerous designs to fit individual drivers
Cons:
  • Poor tread wear
  • Some models are expensive

4) Cooper Discoverer MS available for $127 on Amazon

Key features
  • Sawtooth pattern center ridge
  • Square shoulder treads with dense sipes and inward ice-grooves
  • Studdable
  • Good on dry pavement too

Cooper Tires prides themselves on advanced, safe, and dependable tires for an affordable price. The Discoverer MS is a mix of all-season and winter tires with a focus on a safe, comfortable and quiet ride. The price is a little on the high side, but not excessively so.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

As with many all-season/winter tire combos, the goal is to get the best of both worlds.

With this in mind there are a number of unique features, like the sawtooth center ridge tread and the square-shaped densely siped shoulder treads with inward facing grooves.

The tire is also studdable, which adds additional safety to its function as a winter tire . There are a wide variety of sizes supported.

What's not so good about it?

Like every other all-season/winter tire compromises, tire wear is a major issue. These tires are just too soft to really hold up all year, and should only really be used in winter road conditions.

Many customers have claimed that the tires are actually quite noisy, despite the advertisements countering these claims by Cooper Tires.

Pros:
  • Unique tread design for traction
  • Numerous models
Cons:
  • Poor tire wear
  • Loud

5) Bridgestone Blizzak DMV2 available for $194 on Amazon

Key features
  • Many of the same features and technologies used in the WS80
  • Hard angled edges between grooves of treads
  • Wider tread grooves
  • 3d zigzag sipes

This is another model of winter tire from Bridgestone’s Blizzak brand, who make the WS80. The DMV2 is a dedicated winter tire focused on larger, heavier vehicles. To compensate for size, the DMV2 is quite a bit more expensive than the WS80, but still less than the X-Ice.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The DMV2 has many of the same features as the WS80. It also has a few unique features, like hard edges between the treads to offer better traction and wider tread grooves to improve slush and snow dispersal.

These tires are designed for trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles and so resist wear better while still remaining flexible.

What's not so good about it?

For the price, there is not much more they do that the WS80. The limited size options limit the customer base for them. Like other dedicated winter tires, the softness of the rubber results in rapid wear in non-snow or ice conditions.

Pros:
  • Heavier and more durable than tires fit for smaller vehicles
  • Some design improvements over the WS80
Cons:
  • Price
  • Fewer models

6) Continental WinterContact SI available for $223 on Amazon

Key features
  • Pliably in the cold, firm in the heat
  • Densely packed zig-zag sipes
  • Grooved edges between tread grooves
  • Extra protection plan

Continental Tires is a company committed to sustainability and conservation, and that ethos permeates al their tire designs.

The WinterContact SI is designed to be a winter tire that can also work as an all-season tire, as opposed to being a compromise between the two, and puts the emphasis on ice, snow and wet road conditions.

The price, for the quality of the tires, is not bad. It runs just a little more expensive per tire than the WS80.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The WinterContact is made of a compound that is molded into its treads to allow for pliability in cold weather and firmness in warmer conditions.

It’s treads are densely packed with zig-zag sipes and includes deep, small grooves at the edge of every tread square, increasing the capacity of the tread’s grooves to grip. The tire comes in a wide variety of sizes and can be covered by an extra-cost protection plan.

What's not so good about it?

A few customers have found it to be lacking some traction when compared to more dedicated winter tires, especially on uphill climbs. The tire isn't UTQG certified either, meaning it hasn't passed the rigors of standardized US tire testing and therefore may be difficult to compare to other tires in terms of quality.

Pros:
  • Unique compound for all-weather conditions
  • Protection plan
Cons:
  • Not as good at traction as dedicated winter tire
  • Not UTQG certified

7) Mastercraft Courser MSR available for $131 on Amazon

Key features
  • Studdable with advanced pinhole design
  • Sawtooth middle tread
  • Densely packed zig-zag sipes
  • Improved stud retention

Mastercraft Tires is a subsidiary of Cooper Tires, and manufactures a diverse range of tires for personal and commercial use, all with an emphasis on quality. The Courser MSR is intended for use in SUV’s and costs about as much as the WS80.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

This is a studdable tire with advanced stud pinhole design to allow for better retention and a number of studs.

Like the other Cooper tire on this list, the Discoverer MS, the MSR has a sawtooth middle tread for improved grip in snow and on ice. The tire also has dense, diagonally situated sipes to improve bite.

What's not so good about it?

There is not a significant difference in technology for features as opposed to the Discoverer MS. With that in mind, it shares many of the same problems, like noise and wear during dry road conditions.

Pros:
  • Unique tread pattern
  • Good features for the price
Cons:
  • Noise
  • Poor tread wear in dry conditions

8) Goodyear Eagle RS-A available for $61 on Amazon

Key features
  • Great tread wear
  • Quiet
  • Comfortable ride
  • Excellent wet traction

Goodyear is old, very old. In 1839 Charles Goodyear invented the vulcanization process that produced the first artificial useable vehicle rubber. Since then, Goodyear has been an American tire staple. The Eagle RS-A is definitely a budget tire, and we’ll explore why.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Unlike many winter/all-season tire compromises, the Eagle leans more on the resilient side, and tread wear is not nearly as big an issue as other other models on this list. It is also very quiet, especially when compared to similar winter tires.

Customers have also complimented that  this tire provides a comfortable ride when in use.

What's not so good about it?

Unfortunately, because it leans more on the resilient side it is a harder rubber and therefore has sub-standard traction on poor, slippery road conditions. Some customers have complained that the traction isn't really even that good on dry roads, so this tire is probably better suited to climates with fairly mild winters.

Pros:
  • More resilient than most winter/all-season tires
  • Quiet and comfortable
  • Budget-friendly price tag
Cons:
  • Less traction in wet and icy conditions, due to hardened rubber

9) Mastercraft Glacier Grip II

Key features
  • Patented tread pattern maximizing traction
  • Smooth and quiet ride
  • Studdable
  • Snow Groove design

Here we have another tire by Mastercraft, under Cooper Tires. The Glacier Grip II is one of Mastercraft’s premium generalist winter tires, made for winter and wet conditions. You can get this tire for as much as Courser MSR.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The Glacier Grip II has a patented tread pattern that maximizes traction by capturing snow in the outer grooves of the tread to utilize the improved traction characteristics of snow-on-snow impact.

The tire is also designed to provide a smooth, quiet ride. There are specially designed and strategically located pinhole which allow the tire to be studded, further maximizing traction.

What's not so good about it?

As a dedicated winter tire, the standard issues arise. Tire wear is a problem as the tire will wear out much faster on a dry road than normal tires wil. There also isn't as wide a selection of sizes as there are for other models, limiting those who can use this tire.

Pros:
  • Unique tread design for snow-on-snow impact
  • Quiet and smooth ride
Cons:
  • Poor tire wear
  • Fewer models available

10) Sumitomo Ice Edge available for $79 on Amazon

Key features
  • Studdable
  • Serrated pattern
  • Triangular tread blocks
  • Stable and safe

Sumitomo Tires is a relatively recent business venture in the story of a 400 year old Japanese company which prides itself on traditional values that include top quality and reliability. The Ice Edge is the winter and wet focused tire model by Sumitomo that sells for the same price as the WS80.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The Ice Edge is designed to be studdable, and has a unique serrated tread pattern that resembles a choppier version of the Cooper tires sawtooth design. The sipes also use a serrated pattern for improved bite.

The triangular tread blocks not only improve traction is snow and wet conditions, they also give the tire great braking and traction in dry conditions.

What's not so good about it?

Despite its good performance in dry conditions, this is still a winter-focused tire and so uses a softer rubber, contributing to tread wear. Customers have complained about noise as well.

Pros:
  • Probably the best winter tire on this list
  • Unique tread design for great traction on any surface
Cons:
  • Poor tread wear
  • Noisy

In conclusion...

When it comes down to it, what matters most is safety. When shopping for the best winter tire, what you want should be less about price and more about what you’ll be getting out of your tire. Winter tires should be a long term investment, which are capable of serving you for multiple winters, and serving you well enough that you can avoid a crash in dangerous road conditions.

Hopefully this list has helped to illuminate some of the basic features and functions that you want to look at in when choosing winter tires, and hopefully whatever tires you choose will serve you well and keep you safe.

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