Blog Car Care Advice AWD vs Snow Tires: Which Is Better for Winter Driving?
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AWD vs Snow Tires: Which Is Better for Winter Driving?

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Want to know if an AWD car can do without snow tires for winter driving? 

The answer depends on your weather conditions — the temperature and whether you get light or heavy snow. Although AWD vehicles can handle challenging terrains, your all-season tires may not provide enough grip to keep you safe on icy roads.

But don’t worry. 
We’ll compare AWD vs snow tires to help you determine if your car needs the latter.

This Article Contains:

Let’s go.

AWD vs Snow Tires: Which One Is Best for Winter Conditions?

The driving requirements in slippery conditions are different from those on dry pavement. 
You need to:

Here’s how all-wheel drive (AWD) and winter tires compare in terms of these requirements.

1. To Prevent Skidding

The key to having good control over your vehicle is traction, which is critical for winter driving. You don’t want to skid and drive into a ditch on your way to work or fail to stop at a red light and crash your car.

How do all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles perform in that regard?

Verdict: Snow tires offer better traction to prevent skidding during winter driving. 

2. For Pushing Forward in Snow

The last thing you want is to get stuck in snow on your way to work. That can happen if your vehicle doesn’t have enough traction and power to push out of the snow.

Here’s how all-wheel drive and snow tires can help in this situation:

Verdict: Snow tires are better at pushing forward in heavy snow, but AWD may be enough in regions with light snow.

Next, let’s see if you need both.

Should You Get Snow Tires for an AWD Vehicle?

All-wheel drive vehicles rely on their tires to provide traction on ice or snow. So, you could still find yourself sliding into other vehicles in winter if you pair your AWD vehicle with tires unsuitable for the road condition.

If you expect serious snowfall or icy roads, your AWD car needs snow tires. They’ll help winterize your AWD, making them the best choice to stay safe in snowy conditions.

Now, if you’re looking to buy a new car capable of managing the winter weather, you may wonder if the all-wheel drive system is the right choice. 
Read on to know more.

Do You Need AWD for Snow and Ice?

Fitted with snow tires, all-wheel drive vehicles can tackle the slushy and slippery conditions of snow and ice.

But does AWD itself provide any benefit for icy or snowy conditions?
Let’s review how other drivetrains compare with AWD for winter driving:

In conclusion, a 4WD or AWD system with snow tires can increase performance for winter driving, especially in deep snow. However, you could still opt for an RWD or FWD vehicle for light to moderate snow. 

Next, let’s resolve any apprehensions you may have about snow tires.

3 FAQs about Snow Tires

Here are answers to some questions you may have about using snow tires:

1. How Expensive Are Snow Tires, and Are They Worth the Investment?

The average price for four winter tires ranges between $230 and $5,250, depending on the snow tire size, tread pattern, and brand. Comparatively, all-season or regular tires cost between $200 to $3,500 for four tires.

Moreover, switching in and out of your snow tire sets (including wheel balancing) can cost about $160, depending on the labor charge. 

But wouldn’t you rather deal with the costs of new tires than that of an accident?
Winter tire manufacturers use a special rubber compound that stays flexible even at subzero temperatures, helping them maintain grip on or off the road. So, winter tires can save you from unintended insurance or tow costs

Note: Snow and all-weather tires made for winter weather will typically have a 3-peak mountain snowflake symbol. 

2. When Should You Install Snow Tires?

Ideally, you should install snow tires once temperatures drop below 45°F or your area experiences heavy snow.

But remember: Snow tires wear out quickly in warm temperatures. So, it’s best to switch to a summer tire or all-season tire set once temperatures rise above 45°F. 

3. Does Your State Have Winter Tire Regulations?

Most US states don’t have mandatory regulations for winter or all-weather tires. 
However, some stipulate the use of studded winter tires and tire chains, including:

AWD vs Snow Tires: Final Verdict

Snow tires are more important for winter driving than an AWD system since their braking and handling capacity are vital for safety.

Need help mounting snow tires?
You can get the job done right in your driveway with AutoNation Mobile Service.  

We’re a mobile auto repair service that caters to all winter care and maintenance needs.
Contact us for high-quality servicing and a 12,000-mile or 12-month warranty on all repairs.