Winter tires are not like All-Season tires. Winter tires have special rubber compounds designed to improve traction, handling and braking in all cold weather conditions, not just ice and snow. See our Tire Safety Below 45° article for more information.
Of the hundreds of questions we get every year regarding winter tires this is the most frequently asked. The answer is the same for every vehicle type, whether you drive a compact car or SUV.
Many people assume that the two drive wheels are most important and the other two tires sort of tag along. This idea was valid twenty or more years ago when snow tires were different only in their tread design. Today's winter tires have different compounds and designs that deliver from 25 to 50 percent more traction in snow and ice, and stay pliable in cold weather allowing for more control on dry roads. Using just two on a vehicle creates a traction mismatch that can have serious handling consequences. Using four winter tires ensures optimum traction and control for all vehicle types. It is always recommended to use four winter tires, it's the cheapest insurance you can buy to protect yourself, your family and others.
Even though traction control optimizes the traction of your tires in adverse conditions by preventing wheel spin, this specialized system does not create additional tire traction. Traction always depends on the four contact patches created by the tires. The better traction your tires provide, the more effectively the traction control system will help you drive more safely. Cold temperatures will cause all-season compounds to harden, losing pliability and traction. See our Tire Safety Below 45° article for more information.
An ABS braking system prevents "locking-up" the brakes by "pulsing" them as you apply pressure to the pedal. Remember that the tires on your vehicle supply the traction and help the ABS deliver faster stops. Tires built with better winter traction will improve overall braking performance on ice, snow, and cold roads.