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Finding the Best Winter Tires

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Best Winter Tires

Winter is a season that brings with it challenges for drivers.  One of the most significant challenges is ensuring that your vehicle is equipped with the best winter tires.  This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about finding the best winter tires.

Understanding Winter Tires

Winter tires, also known as snow tires, are specifically designed for use on snow and ice.  They are made from a softer rubber compound that stays flexible in cold temperatures, providing better traction on icy, snowy, slushy, and even dry pavement.  The tread design on winter tires is more aggressive with larger gaps than those on conventional tires, increasing traction on snow and ice.

Why Winter Tires?

Winter tires offer several benefits over all-season tires when it comes to winter driving.  These include:

  • Better Braking:  Winter tires provide improved braking performance in snowy and icy conditions.
  • Superior Performance in Cold Weather:  The special rubber compounds in winter tires stay soft and flexible in cold temperatures, providing better traction.
  • Improved Tread Patterns:  Winter tires have tread block patterns designed to grip snow-, ice-, and slush-covered roads better than any all-season tire.
  • Longevity:  Good quality winter tires can last for multiple seasons if properly maintained.

Choosing the Best Winter Tires

The best winter tires depend on your vehicle type, driving conditions, and personal preferences.  Some of the top-rated winter tires include the Michelin X-Ice XI3, Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02, Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 Studded, and Cooper Evolution Winter.  These tires provide great ice traction, snow grip, handling, and quality.

When choosing winter tires, consider the following factors:

  • Tire Size:  Ensure the winter tires you choose are the correct size for your vehicle.  Mixing tires with different sizes can lead to handling issues.
  • Tread Depth:  Winter tires with deeper treads provide better traction on snowy and icy roads.
  • Tire Pressure:  Proper tire pressure is crucial for optimal tire performance and safety.
  • Tire Brand:  Some brands are renowned for their high-quality winter tires.  Do some research and read reviews to find a reputable brand.

Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires

While all-season tires can perform well in a variety of weather conditions, they don’t offer the same level of performance as winter tires in snowy or icy conditions.  Winter tires are designed to stay flexible in cold temperatures, providing better traction in ice, snow, slush, and even dry pavement.  On the other hand, the rubber compounds in all-season tires can become stiff and less effective in cold temperatures.

When to Switch to Winter Tires

A common guideline is install winter tires when the average daily temperature is consistently below 45 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 degrees Celsius.  This is because winter tires are made from softer rubber compounds that retain their flexibility and grip in cold weather.

Winter Tire Maintenance and Storage

Proper maintenance and storage of your winter tires can extend their lifespan and ensure they’re ready for the next winter season.  Here are some tips:

  • Clean Your Tires:  Before storing your winter tires, clean them thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place:  Tires should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark room to prevent damage.
  • Check Tire Pressure Regularly:  Regularly check your tire pressure to improve safety and reduce wear.
  • Replace Worn Tires:  Replace any tires that have worn treads to ensure optimal performance.

The Future of Winter Tires

As technology advances, we can expect to see improvements in winter tire design and performance.  Manufacturers are continually researching and developing new materials and tread designs to enhance the performance of winter tires in snowy and icy conditions.

In conclusion, investing in a good set of winter tires is crucial for safe and comfortable driving during the winter season.  By understanding what to look for and how to maintain your winter tires, you can ensure that you’re prepared for whatever winter throws your way.

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UTOG Treadwear Rating vs. Tire Warranty

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UTOG Treadwear Rating vs. Tire Warranty


When it comes to buying tires, two factors often come into play: the Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTOG) treadwear rating and the tire’s warranty.  But what do these terms mean, and which one should you trust more when making your purchase?

Understanding UTOG Treadwear Rating

The UTOG treadwear rating, also known as a treadwear grade, is a number stamped on the tire sidewall that relates to expected tire life.  In basic terms, the higher the UTOG treadwear rating, the greater the tire life.  For example, a tire with a “600” treadwear rating is forecasted to last twice as long as a tire with a “300” rating.

However, it’s important to note that while the UTOG treadwear rating is mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The testing process is supposed to be the same for all manufacturers, but the NHTSA does not test tires and assign the ratings.  This means that a “400” treadwear rating from one tire manufacturer doesn’t necessarily equal a “400” treadwear rating from another manufacturer.  Therefore, treadwear ratings are most informative and helpful when comparing tires from the same manufacturer.

Understanding Tire Warranty

Most consumer goods are backed for their first 30, 60, or 90 days of use or up to one year from the date of purchase.  Tires are typically backed by their manufacturer’s limited warranties for a period of 4 to 6 years from the date of purchase or until the tread wears out, whichever occurs first.

Tire warranties work like most product warranties — the owner files a claim, the manufacturer evaluates it and, if accepted, issues a replacement or a prorated refund to cover replacement.  But unlike many warranties, tire warranties require some diligence from the owner.  Tire warranties also span a few different types of coverages, including tread life, road hazards and workmanship.

UTOG Treadwear Rating vs. Tire Warranty: Which to Trust More?

Both the UTOG treadwear rating and the tire warranty provide valuable information when purchasing tires.  However, they serve different purposes and should be considered in conjunction with each other.

The UTOG treadwear rating gives you an idea of how long the tire might last under ideal conditions.  However, it’s based on controlled testing and may not accurately reflect real-world driving conditions.  Furthermore, the testing is conducted by the tire manufacturers themselves, which could lead to inconsistencies between different brands.

On the other hand, a tire warranty provides a form of insurance against premature tire wear or defects.  If your tires wear out or fail within the warranty period, you could be eligible for a replacement or a prorated refund.  However, warranties often come with conditions and exclusions, and it’s up to you to understand these terms and maintain your tires properly to keep the warranty valid.


In conclusion, both the UTOG treadwear rating and the tire warranty offer valuable insights, but neither should be relied upon exclusively.  The UTOG treadwear rating can give you a general idea of a tire’s longevity.  The warranty provides a safety net against premature wear or defects.  When choosing tires, consider both these factors along with other important aspects such as price, performance, and reviews to make the best decision for your needs.

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When to Buy New Tires for Your Vehicle

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When to Buiy New Tires

Tires are critical to your car’s overall safety.  They are the only parts of your vehicle that make contact with the road.  However, knowing when to replace them can be a bit tricky.  This article will help you understand when it’s time to buy new tires for your vehicle.

1. Tread Depth

The tread depth of your tires is a key indicator of their health.  A tire’s tread needs to be at least 2/32” deep to meet U.S. legal safety standards.  You can use the penny test to easily check.  Insert the top of Lincoln’s head into the tread groove.  If you can see top of his head, it’s time to start shopping.

2. Tire Age

Most vehicle manufacturers also generally recommend tire replacement at six years.  Meanwhile most tire manufacturers recommend at 10 years.  The date code on the sidewall of the tire indicates how old.  It is very rare that any tire will not need replacement after six years.  But if a vehicle has been idle for six to ten years on the same set of tires, they should be replaced as the rubber can harden and crack, losing suppleness and elasticity characteristics.

3. Tire Damage

Tires can be repaired from minor punctures, but if a tire is damaged severely, it is obvious you should buy a new one.  Damage includes anything out of the ordinary like severe punctures, cuts, impacts, cracks, bulges, and irregular tread wear.  Have a professional inspect your tires as soon as possible.

4. Seasonal Changes

Although all-season tires are available today, severe winter conditions require winter tires.  All-season tires do not have the tread depth to find grip in deep snow.  It would be wise to seasonally switch between winter and summer or all-season tires.

5. Vehicle Performance

Pay attention to your vehicle’s performance.  Vibrations, pulling to one side, or decreased fuel efficiency could be signs that your tires need replacing.  The tires may not always be the cause of the problem, but they could be.

6. Mileage

This varies depending on the treadwear life of the tire, aggressive or conservative driving style, climate, proper functioning of suspension parts, maintenance of proper air pressures, and regular tire rotation.  The rule of thumb benchmark for replacement is 40,000 miles, but is highly variable.  For example, high performance tires may need replacement at 30,000 miles if the rubber compound is very soft, usually desired for superior grip.  The trade-off is faster tread wear.  On the flip side, a general passenger tire designed for reliability may have tread life up to 60,000 miles.


In conclusion, knowing when to buy new tires for your vehicle involves considering various factors such as tread depth, tire age, tire damage, seasonal changes, vehicle performance, and mileage.  By understanding these indicators, you can ensure that your vehicle remains safe and performs optimally on the road.

Remember that regular tire maintenance and inspections are essential for extending the lifespan of your tires and ensuring your safety on the road.  Happy driving!

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Making a tire purchase decision purely by searching for the best tire brand is nonsensical.  There are many worthy brands available with a variety of models of varying quality and utility.  It is not simply a matter of looking for the best all season tires, the best performance tires, the best winter tires, or the best all terrain tires.


The best tire for you is a balance amongst tread life, traction, heat dissipation, performance and handling, ride, and purpose.  It is not possible to have the highest ratings in all these attributes in one tire.

There are tradeoffs amongst these attributes.  Understanding the trade-offs and finding the optimal balance of attributes you are willing to live with will help you make the best purchase decision possible.

Some manufacturers do a very good job balancing opposing attributes on certain models, but there are still trade-offs.

Official Ratings

When buying tires, the most important specs to focus on are the UTQG treadwear number, the UTQG traction rating, the UTQG temperature rating, and the speed rating letter.  UTQG stands for Uniform Tire Quality Grading.  It is a uniform federal grading system required for passenger tires.  Winter tires are excluded.  These specs can be found on the sidewalls of each tire.

Treadwear Rating

For the UTQG treadwear rating, the higher the number, the longer the treadwear.  Although tire manufacturers make claims of how many thousands of miles the tread will last or will be warrantied, these claims are inconsistent with actual results.  However, the UTQG treadwear rating is very reliable.  The numbers typically range from lows in the 200s to highs in the 800s.  So if you want to find a tire with the highest treadwear rating and lasts the longest, look for a high UTQG treadwear number.

Traction Rating

The UTQG traction grade rating indicates how well a tire stops in the wet.  The grades are AA, A, B, and C.  AA is the best.  C is the worst.

Temperature Rating

The UTQG temperature grade rating indicates a tire’s ability to resist heat buildup.  A tire that dissipates heat poorly will degrade faster under heavy stress.  Since there is friction between the tire and the road, heat builds up as revolutions accumulate or the speed of revolutions increase.  If taken to the limit where tire temperatures are extreme, the tires will develop blisters and begin to fall apart, for example, as auto racing fans will notice on tires taken off during pit stops.  The grades are A, B, and C.  A is the best.  C is the worst.

Speed Rating

The speed rating indicates the maximum speed the tire is designed to handle.  Performance tires have the highest speed ratings.  Truck, snow or winter tires generally have low speed ratings.  Below is a chart.

  • Q = 100 mph
  • R = 106 mph
  • S = 112 mph
  • T = 118 mph
  • U = 124 mph
  • H = 130 mph
  • V = 149 mph
  • W = 168 mph
  • Y = 186 mph
  • ZR greater than 186 mph

There are lower ratings, but most passenger tires fall into these ranges.


Unless you are buying tires for a specific purpose, such as driving in severe snowy or icy conditions or off-roading, there are different types of tires that can serve your vehicle well.  There are also tires made especially for SUVs since this is a popular vehicle today.  And tires are also specifically designed for truck use, too.

General Purpose

General purpose all-season tires are the standard baseline tires.  These are built for all around driving and typically have longer tread life than other tire categories.


High performance all-season tires offer improved traction and handling but sacrifice tread life in exchange.  Better traction requires building a tire with a softer rubber compound which will not last as long as a harder compound.  Ultra-high-performance all-season tires go even further, the trade-off between traction and handling versus tread life is even greater.

Typically, there is a trade-off between performance and tread wear.  Generally, higher performance tires hold better temperature ratings as well as higher speed ratings.

Most tires today designate themselves as all-season, but there are summer high performance tires available.  Just because a high-performance tire claims it is all-season, beware it is not necessarily great on wet or snowy surfaces.  Much depends on the tread pattern.  If there is a lot of wide and flat surfaces on the tread with shallow channels, the tire will not grip well in wet conditions.  If the channels are deeper and interspersed evenly and frequently, the wet weather traction is much better since there is more space for water to channel away from the contact points with the ground.

Snow and Ice

For driving in heavy snow and icy conditions, all-season tires will not suffice, and winter tires will enter the picture.

Tire Size

The size of the tire is marked on the sidewall by an alphanumeric designation, for example, 205/60R15 91V.  Here is a decoder for the designation:

  • 205 = section width (mm)
  • 60 = aspect ratio
  • R = radial construction
  • 15 = rim diameter (in)—should match the diameter of the rims
  • 91 = load index—important to make sure the tire can support the weight of a fully-loaded vehicle
  • V = speed rating

Tire Load

Tire load is also an important index to consider.  It ranges per tire from an index of 0 which supports 99 pounds total load to 150 which supports 7,385 pounds total load.

To know how much your vehicle’s tires can support at maximum, multiply the tire load capacity by the number of tires on the vehicle.

The total load capacity assumes the tire is pumped up to maximum air pressure.  The more load carried, the more air pressure a tire requires, so the tire does not compress.


If you are looking for top rated tires for your car, SUV, or truck, visit  Get exactly what you want based on meaningful, functional filters.  All products have been unbiasedly researched and recommended.  Not only will you find top of the line tires, you can also find the best rated tires for your money.  The only choice you need to make is where from the select reputable online retailers do you want to make the purchase.  Pick the shop that carries your tire brand and model.  Some online retailers ship directly to independent auto mechanics where you want them installed.  They work together to offer you competitive warranties and follow up maintenance (like free tire rotations) as standard tire shops.

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