Are winter tires a good investment?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a reader with a question about driving in snow.

A pile of winter tires is at the ready at Sullivan Tire's Saugus outlet.
–Bill Griffith

Q. I have a question about winter driving. Front wheel drive is good in the winter and better with snow tires. What about snow tires on all four wheels versus four all season tires? I guess my real question is, are four snow tires worth the money? 

A. Winter tires improve the traction of any vehicle in cold, wintry conditions. In addition to a tread design that is better suited to dig through the snow, the rubber is made of a compound that stays stickier in cold weather and provides better traction even on dry roads. I was once road testing an Audi A6 quattro, and it had summer tires on it. The temperature was cold and there was about one inch of snow on the road. I drove less than a mile slipping and sliding, turned around, and used my own car with winter tires. If you need to be out before the snowplows, buying winter tires is a good investment. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. E-mail your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.

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