Here's Proof that Computers and All-Wheel Drive are No Match for Winter Tires

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: If you live where there is serious winter, you really need to consider winter tires on your daily driver. Yes, even if you have all-wheel drive. Yes, even if it clearly says “ALL seasons” right there on the receipt from the tire store. It just makes good sense.


To remind us of what we really should know by know, ran through a series of tests to see just how important winter tires are in icy conditions. The answer: very.

Even with traction control and anti-lock brakes, the car without winter tires is all over the place. In a low-speed stopping test, the car without winter boots on slid a full car length further before coming to a stop.

“Ah ha!” you say, because you talk like a 1930s movie villain. “That is a mere Toyota Avalon, with front-wheel-drive. I have ALL-wheel drive, thus negating the need for winter tires!”

Tire Rack has an answer for you, too:

As you can see, all-wheel drive can help when you want to get going, but it’s nowhere near as effective when you need to turn, and especially not when you need to stop.

Of course, Tire Rack is, indeed, trying to sell more tires. But you can’t really argue with the tape.

And when winter is over, get those all-season puppies put on, because winter tires don’t do well on dry pavement.

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.



Unpopular opinion:

Not everyone needs winter tires. I used to swap over proper Severe Weather Tires every year. Yes, they are substantially better in the snow / ice; no contest. However, two things: they aren’t as good as all seasons in dry pavement (again, no contest), and all-seasons have improved dramatically over the years.

Last year, I was too lazy to swap out my Michelin Pilot Sport A/S3+ for my winter setup (Yokohama IceGuard G20s) and I got by just fine. The Michelin tires were fine in the snow. It seemed silly to me to sacrifice performance in dry, cold weather (90% of my winter driving), for better performance in the snow (10% of my winter driving).

Everyone’s situation is different. Clearly, if 90% of your winter driving happens on an ice rink, definitely go with a Severe Weather Setup, but if it snows maybe 20 days of the year where you live, all seasons are fine.