The correct tires can make winter driving easier and safer. To decide what type of tires you need, consider: What kind of car do you drive? Is it a four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive vehicle? What size are your wheels? What is the weight of your car? In what weather conditions do you expect to be driving?
Your owner's manual should answer most of these questions, and may even offer recommendations on what kind of tires to buy. Consult a tire retailer or your local mechanic to determine what tires would work best for when, where, and what you drive. Some basic types of tires include:
Highway tires. Also known as summer tires, they're designed for wet and dry weather driving, but they're not for use on snow or ice. They don't provide the degree of traction offered by snow and all-season tires.
Snow tires. This tire is constructed of special material that remains pliable in cold weather. The tread is designed for maximum traction in snowy, icy, and muddy conditions. Trade-offs for this increased traction can include less handling ability on dry pavement, increased noise levels, and more rapid treadwear.
All-season tires. These provide a balance for drivers looking for increased traction in rain and snow as well as the benefits found in highway tires.
Studded snow tires. In areas where heavy snowfalls are frequent, you can have a tire dealer install studded snow tires for extra traction. Be aware, though, that some regions have limits on the use of studs--or ban them altogether. Contact the local police department to check on the regulations for the area where you'll be driving.