top of page

Do You Really Need Snow Tires?

Anyone who has tried to power through a Northeast winter with all-weather tires can tell you there has to be a better way. Snow tires, now often referred to as “winter tires,” has better tread and softer rubber for superior grip and improved performance. Here’s how to decide if upgrading is right for you.

Consider the Weather

Chilly temperatures can cause the rubber in standard tires to become stiff or brittle, which reduces traction and may cause damage. Due to this, winter tires are recommended for climates where temperatures routinely dip below 40 degrees.

During tough winters in the Northeast, it’s not uncommon for the weather to go from balmy and spring-like to arctic overnight and for a foot of snow to accompany the change in temperature. When you wake up to that kind of radical shift, you need tires designed to power through the slush left behind by plows so that you can get to work without incident.

Assess Your Regular Mileage

If you have to go to work most days during the week regardless of the weather, snow tires are pretty much non-negotiable. When working from home, doing remote work or focusing on freelance projects, however, you may have the option of staying put when the weather is nasty. Snow tires can be expensive, so it only makes sense to invest if you’ll get enough use out of them to justify the price. If you barely drive at all during winter weather, you may be able to get away with keeping your all-season wheels.

Know the Roads

Living out in the boonies could mean a plow doesn’t grace your road until hours after the city streets have been cleared. In this case, winter tires may be your only hope of getting out of house! Even if you’re in an area where snow is cleaned up pretty quickly and the roads are safe for driving by the time you have to leave for work, it’s still a good idea to upgrade your tires to something with the ability to maintain traction during the unpredictable stop-and-go patterns of the morning commute.

Plan According to Your Schedule

The time at which you head off to work, pick the kids up from school or run errands is also important when considering whether to go for winter tires. Driving off at the crack of dawn when the temperatures are in the single digits puts strain on all-weather tires and is likely to be dangerous, especially if the road hasn’t been plowed. Unless you only go out on warm afternoons when the asphalt is dry, it makes sense to get a good set of snow tires.

What About Emergencies?

Sometimes you can’t avoid driving when the weather is nasty and plows haven’t gotten out to take care of the roads. Having winter tires ensures you can get wherever you need to go, including in emergency situations. Whether you’re a volunteer firefighter, you have an aging relative who needs help or the nurse calls to tell you one of your kids doesn’t feel well and needs to come home, you want to know you have tires that are up to the task.

As you can see, if you live in the Northeast or anywhere else where the weather is cold and snowy for a good part of the year, you should think about investing in snow tires. Whether you choose a standard winter model or one with studs, you’ll be safer when driving in snowy conditions, and you’ll preserve the life of the tires you use during warmer weather.

About the Author Theresa “Sam” Houghton is a writer, speaker and health coach from Troy, NY. She’s a regular contributor to, and her work has appeared in the Honest Weight Food Co-Op Coop Scoop, Natural Awakenings Magazine and the 2017 Daily Dozen calendar. She has been a featured guest on Focus on Albany, WMAC’s Food Friday and the Just Ask David podcast. When she's not writing or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, cook tasty plant-based food and knit socks.

You can find out more about Sam at







bottom of page