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Update: This blog post was originally published in November 2011. It was updated in October 2019 to include information most relevant to the 2019-2020 snow season.

The snow is starting to fall in parts of North America and full-on winter is right around the corner, so it is time to start thinking about all things icy: Do I need a new jacket? Where did I stash those goggles? Is it gonna be Utah, Colorado, Montana or B.C. this February? And of course, what kind of snow tires should I get?

How do you know if you need snow tires?

Snow tires or “winter tires” have special rubber compounds, tread designs, and biting edges that allow them to maintain grip under weather conditions in which standard tires don’t perform well. Snow tires are engineered to dig into snow and push water away from the contact surface. They’re meant to offer a range of conditions in which the tires retain grip, giving traction when regular tires would be sliding.

So if you live in an area with consistent snow, ice, or temperatures in the low 40s, snow tires are a good investment. If snowfall is few and far between, you’re probably better off with all-season tires. Popular Mechanics recommends winter tires if you live anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line. And certainly, if you’re planning on several trips out to the mountains, it makes sense to find a reliable set of winter tires.

What are some guidelines for buying snow tires?

Buy a set of four. If you decide to buy snow tires, it’s important to get a full set of four instead of just two tires. Because tires are expensive, you might be tempted to install snow tires only on the axle of your vehicle that receives power. But the danger here is that the traction among your total four tires will mismatch and can negatively affect your car’s grip and steering. As a result, auto and consumer products experts such as Carfax, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver, and Consumer Reports all unequivocally recommend that you buy the complete set to ensure safety, and to have the best grip and balanced handling.

Factor in the cost of installation. Carfax points out that it’s possible to find a great deal on snow tires online, but unless you’re a car expert, you’ll need to find a tire shop to install them for you. It might make more sense to buy a bundle of both the tires and installation at a local shop that you trust.

Learn about studded vs. non-studded. Studded tires have metal studs in the treads that are designed to bite into ice, which offer better grip than non-studded tires on icy roads. However, they’re very noisy on the pavement and even damage the roads. As a result, they’re banned or restricted in certain states. Studless tires have deeper treads that allow the tire to disperse snow and slush from under the tire, which means they may offer better traction on deep snow.

Look up laws by state. Be sure to look up the most recent requirements on winter tires where you live, and where you plan to drive to most. For instance, the state of Colorado has a new traction law that requires tires have a minimum of three-sixteenths inch tread. Previously, it was required for traction to be an eighth of an inch.

Buy the right size for your car. Winter tires come in various shapes and sizes to fit all vehicles – a range of makes, models and years, whether you have a sedan or SUV, and whether you have two-wheel, four-wheel or all-wheel drive. Consider using an online selection tool, such as this tool from Tire Rack, to get a sense of what you should be looking for.

What are the top 5 snow tires right now?

We scoured buyer’s guides published in 2019 across a number of known and trusted sources, including: Car and Drive, Autoguide, Gear Patrol, Tire Reviews and More, Car Bibles, The Drive, and Wheels.ca.

We read through the reviews and came up with the below list – based on multiple recommendations and various price points.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 and WS80

  • Price: WS90 starting at $88.99
  • Bridgestone Blizzak tires were the most recommended tires across all the buyer’s guides we looked at. Both great tires that have extra biting edges, the WS90 are the newest (2019) version of the WS80 tires. Wheels.ca notes that the new WS90 tires’ tread blocks are more integrated with each other than the previous WS80 generation, and the shoulder blocks have extra traction. Made of a unique NanoPro-Tech Multicell hydrophilic compound, Bridgestone Blizzak tires have improved traction on wet and snowy roads, and the grooves expel water away from the tire footprint.

Michelin X-Ice Xi3

  • Price: Starting at $99
  • These are Michelin’s third-generation studless ice and snow tires and are Gear Patrol’s pick for best high-mileage winter tire. Depending on how aggressively you drive, they’ll last multiple seasons and produce minimal noise even on dry roads.

Continental VikingContact 7

  • Price: Starting at $104.99 (via TireRack.com, assuming this is for a midsize sedan)
  • These are among the most versatile, as Continental VikingContact tires are available in various sizes from 15-inch to 20-inch, good for compact cars, SUVs, and larger crossovers. They’re also made with a specialized rubber compound containing canola oil which helps the tires stay more flexible in extreme cold.

Yokohama iceGUARD iG53

  • Price: Starting at $101.39 (via TireRack.com, assuming this is for a midsize sedan)
  • As the newest generation of Yokohama’s iceGUARD line, these are the successor to the IceGUARD iG52c. They have improved water-evacuating abilities with additional circumferential grooves and siping, and the highly absorptive tread prevents micro-hydroplaning by removing the water layer from the tire surface area. They also offer a quieter ride.

Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02

  • Price: Starting at $74
  • For those who are especially value or budget conscious, the Dunlop Winter Maxx tires are a solid pick. Now in their second generation, these tires’ asymmetric tread pattern make them effective on slush, snow and ice.

Be safe out there, and let us know your favorite winter tires in the comments below!

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40 responses to “Top 5 Snow Tires for 2019-2020”

  1. TheXLR8R says:

    No love for the Firestone Winterforce? These are truly the best bang for your buck tire out there!

  2. Impreza08 says:

    Dunlop Winter Sport 3D are best for not sacrificing dry/wet performance.

  3. Brian Sawyer says:

    I’m a beleaver in Hakki’s, but I have had to trade down recently To GT Altimax Arctic and have been very satisfied for the $$.

  4. buy new tyres online says:

    Winter tyres are designed for climates that have prolonged periods of cold, and can work with a little, or a lot of snow fall.

  5. Pocha huntas says:

    Yup it’s true that one must change all four tires for winter tires of the vehicle else it will result in some unpredictable harm to you and your vehicle.
    http://www.national.co.uk/information/winter-tyres.aspx

  6. Canada Wheels says:

    During the months of winter, if your area stays covered in snow, you would know what a great difficulty it is to drive down the snowy roads. For such weather conditions, only winter tires are appropriate. Thanks for sharing such an useful content with us. For more details please visit at https://www.canadawheels.ca/

  7. Wolf says:

    I bought the General Tire Altimax Artic in 2010 and just put them on again.
    I have 18500 km on them and still have 11/32 Tread left. They perform very well, awesome in snow and it appears they will last me another 3-4 years easy.
    i can honestly recommend them highly.

  8. […] that are used for different vehicles and their specific needs. I found a website that lists the top 5 snow tires, I hope it helps you in your […]

  9. tire dealers says:

    Thanks for the post, This was exactly what I needed to see.Good list, keep up
    the good work.

  10. Really i am impressed from this post…

  11. tyreonwheels says:

    Tyreonwheels – Apollo’s largest unit is in Limda, in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The company has manufacturing presence in Asia, Europe and Africa with 9 modern tyre manufacturing units and exports to 118 countries. APOLLO is the main brand available in India. DUNLOP, VREDESTEIN, KAIZEN, MALOYA, and REGAL are other brands owned by Apollo. APOLLO offers a comprehensive product portfolio spread across Passenger Cars, SUVs & 4x4s, MUVs, Light Trucks, Trucks and Buses, Agriculture, Industrial, Off-Highway Tyres, Retreading materials and Retreaded tyres.

  12. […]  “The snow is starting to fall in parts of North America and full-on winter is right around the corner, so it is time to start thinking about all things icy: Do I need a new jacket? Where did I stash those goggles? Is it gonna be Utah, Colorado, Montana or B.C. this February? And of course, what kind of snow tires should I get?”…http://blog.liftopia.com/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  13. Teslaliving says:

    Going with the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 for my Tesla Model S for sure.
    http://teslaliving.wordpress.com

  14. mjl says:

    I have driven many, many miles on Blizzaks, Dunlop M3s, and Continental ExtremeWinterContacts on my Impreza. The Continentals blew away the others on snow and dry. Thumbs down on studded Winterforce – I had them on my Jeep and they were not nearly as good as normal Yokohama Geolander ATs. Go with the Contis.

  15. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are five of our favorites. 5. The BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO is a good truck and SUV tire for … but it is great overall and grippier in snow than many studded tires. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  16. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are five of our favorites. 5. The BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO is a good truck and SUV tire for … but it is great overall and grippier in snow than many studded tires. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  17. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? … Michelin” X-Ice Xi2, but it is great overall and grippier in snow than many studded tires. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  18. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – Is it gonna be Utah, Colorado, Montana or B.C. this February? … “Make sure you buy four tires; skimping and putting winter tires only on the … http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  19. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? … best-priced tires in this top tier, so if you are on a budget this winter, these are for you. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  20. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are … The BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO is a good truck and SUV tire for the snow. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  21. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are … The BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO is a good truck and SUV tire for the snow. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  22. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – And of course, what kind of snow tires should I get? This question … But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are five …. 15, 2014. PHOTO: Crystal Mountain Resort. What’s New At Ski Resorts For 2014-15? http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  23. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are … The BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO is a good truck and SUV tire for the snow. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  24. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are … You’ll have twice the number of tires but buy new ones half as often.” Be safe … http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  25. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? Here are five of our favorites. 5. The BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO is a good truck and SUV tire for … but it is great overall and grippier in snow than many studded tires. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  26. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? … Michelin” X-Ice Xi2, but it is great overall and grippier in snow than many studded tires. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  27. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – But do you know which snow tires are really the best? … Michelin” X-Ice Xi2, but it is great overall and grippier in snow than many studded tires. http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  28. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – Is it gonna be Utah, Colorado, Montana or B.C. this February? … “Make sure you buy four tires; skimping and putting winter tires only on the … http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  29. […] Snow Tires: Top 5 Snow Tires for Driving in the WinterNov 14, 2012 – This tire is best for light snow and not for the hardcore, long winters. … tires; skimping and putting winter tires only on the drive end of the car will … http://www.liftopia.com/blog/top-5-snow-tires/ […]

  30. john says:

    I found a article best winter tire in Turkish language. You can read it here.
    http://teknonline.com/en-iyi-lastik-hangisi-araba-lastigi-markasi-secimi.html

  31. Tick says:

    Les Schwab wintercat sst got to rate up there pretty high.

  32. howie says:

    I had a set of bridgestone blizzaks that lasted 15 years on my bmw e30 m3. I was not afraid to go anywhere with them.

  33. Jonny Mick says:

    Traveling at snow fall time is really hard task. Yes this is very nice to know about the Tires. I like your tips for winter tires.
    Bridgestone tires
    are also good i think. What you say?

  34. Ghent Chevrolet Cadillac says:

    These winter tires look nice! Overall they look like they are well worth the purchase if you are a common snow or ice driver. Great read thanks for sharing this.

  35. Wasoon says:

    HELP! OK seems like the gang’s all here. I have a Jeep Liberty and All-Weather Tires (I think that’s what they are called). I seem to be able to go OK in the snow, but skid out in semi-wet to wet conditions at times. Very disconcerting. I live in a condo and have no place to store 4 tires on rims for winter. What is my best all-year tire option? Thanks.

  36. liftopia says:

    Hi Wasoon! Thank you for commenting. It’s tough to give a specific recommendation, as we don’t know you’re weather/climate conditions, and the conditions in which you typically drive. To be on the safe side, you should talk with a professional – a trusted associate at a local tire or auto shop.

    But since it will likely help to have a starting point, you might want to look at the all-season tires from the brands we recommended in this post. Here’s a list: Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Bridgestone Driveguard, Yokohama Advan Sport A/S, and Michelin Latitude Tour.

    Hope this helps! Good luck with your search.

    -Amanda, from the Liftopia team

  37. John says:

    Nokian are great for me. Can’t believe they are not part of this list

  38. Erik says:

    Wasoon – all weather tires are better than all season tires, iftopia response may have been a typo…but do NOT get all season tires if you’re looking for something year round.

    Here’s a good article breaking down the two
    https://driving.ca/auto-news/news/whats-the-difference-between-all-weather-and-all-season-tires

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