Do You Need Winter Tires If It Doesn’t Snow?

Do You Need Winter Tires If It Doesn’t Snow?

Hello everyone and welcome! In this video we’re gonna be answering the question; do you need winter tires if it doesn’t snow? And so I’ve got two different sets of tires for my Honda S2000 i’ve got some ultra high performance summer tires on it which are on it right now and then I’ve also got a set of winter tires which I’m going to put on in tests after testing these summer tires so the whole idea is that summer tires have something called, and all tires will have something called a glass transition temperature this is a basically a property of rubber so above this glass transition temperature the the rubber is soft and malleable and you know conforms to the road below this temperature it gets very hard and plastic like and so a lot of tire manufacturers say this is generally around 40° to 45° Fahrenheit for summer tires and so it’s well below freezing it’s below that temperature right now outside there’s no snow on the ground so we’re not you know obviously, I think the winter tire is going to do better than a summer tire on the snow, what we’re gonna figure out is if it’s below freezing outside you know are you gonna benefit from a winter tire or are you gonna be okay on a summer tire? so that’s what we’re gonna figure out right here. Just doing a simple braking test. I’ve got my equipment set up i”ll include links to all of this stuff, so you know what I’m using in the video description and so let’s go ahead and go test these summer tires see how they brake, okay, so I’m going to be running the same test three times i’m going to accelerate up to 65 mph then at the same location i’m gonna slam the brakes ABS is going to do all the work it’s going to be ABS braking and we’re gonna measure the time from 60 mph down to a dead stop so from 60 to 0 that’s the distance we’re going to measure and we’re going to see what the difference is using summer versus winter tires so first off is our first run with the summer tires definitely a little squirrely there. I’ve done this before when it was warm outside, and it was not nearly as squirmy the cars kind of shaking all over the place in the cold and I am not that great at translating meters, but our results are in meters with all the metric people are gonna be excited i’ll include of course what this is in feet but 38.7 meters was our 60 to zero for the first test with the summer tires. Okay, we will run one more test and see how we do. That one was a little bit better. So our final test on summer tires we’re looking at a 60 to 0 in 38.7 meters and a 30 to 0 in 9.7 meters. So a little bit better than the second run, but about the same as the first run, so we’re looking at about 127 to 130 feet of stopping distance, 60 to 0 when it’s below freezing temperatures outside and you’re on summer tires, so now we’re going to go ahead and switch and we’re going to put winter tires on these are using the exact same AP1 wheels it’s a different set of wheels but both sets of tires are going to be on stock AP1 wheels so we’re going to be comparing the difference between this winter compound and the summer compound. Okay It is day 2 i’ve got the winter tires on yesterday I did a bunch of driving primarily I did a bunch of hard stops just to make sure that the outer layer of those tires was worn in enough so they were broken in so that they’d be good for testing but I also wanted to drive them a bit in the snow and see how they felt and I have to say it’s extremely impressive how well winter tires can do in the snow and the ice I had a lot of fun driving this thing and it’s amazing you know when I have those summer tires on any ice or snow it’s like the tires are basically plastic and they have zero grip, and you just immediately start sliding so it’s really cool that traction in the snow, and it’s weird to do it in something like an s2000 but that’s not the point of this test the point of this test is to figure out if it doesn’t snow, but it’s really cold can you do any better stopping wise with winter tires, and my hypothesis that they won’t actually do much better the summer tires actually did okay all things considered in the dry with the stopping distance you know I think these may be close up but to me they feel like they’re not going to stop quite as good. We will see with the testing one thing for sure you do lose steering response with winter tires, so you know that tread block is softer and you feel it kind of squirm around on the road it’s not nearly as you know quick to turn in like summer tires are which are you know firmer and as you turn the steering wheel, it’s very quick to turn in with you but that’s just a note about how the steering feels and now let’s get into the testing about how they actually stop okay, here we go with test number one winter tires. Wow. So results from the first test 60 to 0 in 47.7 meters 30 to 0 in 12 meters so certainly a longer distance there for stopping interesting to see and you know kind of what I was thinking when I was testing him yesterday I felt like the braking wasn’t quite as strong and it’s not so while they do perform well certainly in the snow and ice it seems they are certainly a drawback when it is dry even if it is cold it’s 26 degrees out right now when I was testing these summer tires. It was 24 degrees so very similar temperature wise but regardless a longer stopping distance. Okay test number two. Something worth noting so far both of the tests with the winter tires when I slam on the brakes it stays perfectly straight, and I really don’t have to adjust it much versus the summer tires especially the first time I did a hard brake, they were quite squirming you kind of had to fight it to keep it to go straight that said even still the braking distance is significantly longer with these winter tires than with the summer tires in 25° Fahrenheit temperatures, okay final test. And slightly better than our last test but not by much 49.9 meters 60 to 0, 12.26 for the 30 to 0. so fascinating to see what we’ve learned if you live in an area where it gets cold but it doesn’t snow you could probably be fine with your all-seasons or your summer tires left on the car and then if there is a little bit of snow or ice one day. You know don’t take your car out. That said, you know if you do live in an area where you do have plenty of ice and snow you can certainly take advantage by getting winter tires so this was fascinating to me I was surprised how big of a difference there was between the summer and winter tires in the cold the summers definitely were degraded from how they do in the summer but still did decent enough and significantly better than winter tires in these you know below freezing temperatures so interesting to see now one thing worth mentioning I went with a recommended setup of a square set up so 205’s on both the front and the rear that keeps the tire diameters very similar to what the rears were anyways and so it’s a square setup, so the rear tires were slightly narrower than the summer tires 20 millimeters on each end now I don’t think that’s near enough of a difference to see the difference that we saw in stopping distance I don’t think it’s going to make that big of a deal as far as stopping distance but one thing it made to I mean keep in mind you know the front is doing most of the work anyways and the front tires were the exact same width in both scenarios one thing it may do however is mess with the ABS system so the ABS system is designed for a car with 225s in the back and 205s up front rather than 205s front and rear and so it may slightly affect how the ABS system is able to interact with the tires and get maximum braking out of them just one thing worth mentioning, but aside from that same wheels same temperature outside same exact braking location starting from the same speed and measuring from 60 to 0 so really keeping everything consistent wind speeds were not an issue I was monitoring that the whole time didn’t have any wind out there so that’s why I choose this place out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a great place for doing testing like that so hopefully you guys learned something. I’ve certainly found this fascinating if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below thanks for watching.

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  1. Hope everyone's having a wonderful day! After the testing in this video, I'm certainly curious to take things further. What if it were significantly colder? What would the results look like on snow/ice? We'll see what conditions allow for, but I was definitely intrigued by how this played out. Granted, the equipment isn't cheap, but if anyone's curious to try out their own tires, I've listed the gear used in the video description. Most importantly is the VBox:

  2. Now what about using All Seasons? I use them all year round given Silicon Valley doesn’t get colder than 36F in the winter.

  3. @Engineering Explained will soon be this test at a significantly lower temperature (dry) and the second test on wet surfaces (also cold) ? 🙂

  4. Summer tires get warm when you ride them a certain period of time.
    Longer braking distance is a known drawback of all the winter tires. Consider it like a tradeoff required to get a decent grip on snow and ice.

  5. if you live in a country where people are known to be stressed or rude / impatient = yes , needed
    if country is somewhat alright , AND you dont drive hard or something bigger than a 1.8 4cyl a multi season will be good to

  6. Did you specifically install "performance winter" tires? Because the tread height, tread design, and even tire carcass has a lot to do with how quickly that tire will stop on dry pavement. There are BIG differences from one winter tire to another. You should also be running exactly the same dimensions between the tires. Otherwise your test is flawed and biased.

  7. The biggest problem is you never when the snow starts. I replace them at a tyre shop and they store them for me to (i got no space). That takes time. When the snow falls i am to late. So i place winter tyres just to be safe. And i maby did 1 full break in my life time. The rest of the time i break slowly

  8. ive always said this, winter tires are only better in the snow, as for the rest, theyre very much worse in every aspect, finally i have something to prove this.

  9. It's simply not feasible to keep summer tires in the winter and change them the day before it's supposed to snow.
    I'd say the best option is to allow extra clearance at all time when driving in cold weather with winter tires.
    Think of yourself as if you're driving an 18 wheeler.

  10. Only if it snows do we require winter tyres. Michelin cross climate is said to be a very good compromise I’ve got them and they grip well but not as well as summer Michelin in the heat. However now cold weather and flooding roads they have been brilliant. No snow yet tho apparently they good on snow.

  11. I am a big fan of Michelin xice winter tires because where I live it frequently gets below 15F and they are just amazing on frozen or snow packed roads. But when they are brand new and have almost 100% tread left they will not stop as fast on dry road as even a cheap summer tire that barely has any tread left. Summer tire dry road traction is not effected by low temperature nearly as much as wet road traction. I think it was not fare to draw a conclusion based only on dry road test comparing a really expensive high performance summer tire to a winter tire designed for extreme winter conditions. I know that your budget is limited. I don't want to sound harsh but you shouldnt be making such a drastic conclusion based on such small test data. It would be more fare to use a regular touring summer tire in the same price range as Michelin xice tires or use high performance winter tires that are in same price range as your summer tires. Both tires should have similar tread depth. I guarantee that if those winter tires tires had only 20% of tread left they would have significantly shorter stopping distance on dry road. And I was really disappointed that you only did a dry road test. Maybe it doesn't rain much where you live but it may not be so for many viewers that may think that their (much cheaper) touring summer tires are the safest choice as long as there's no snow or ice. I am almost positive that if you would compare wet road stopping distance at few degrees below freezing of cheaper summer tires that are half way worn to Michelin xice tires that are half way worn you would get very different results.

  12. These tires are no normal wintere tires, but studded tires. No wonder that they perform worse than summer tires on dry roads.
    If Engineering Explained had used normal winter tires like the Nokian WR A4 ot the Michelin Alpin 5, the results would be totally different.

  13. @Engineering Explained highly rated winter tires, yes; but NOT performance ones, Michelin makes the Alpin and Pilot Alpin, which are performance winter tires … so yeah, price doesn't matter. Maybe you can conduct the test again, maybe poke at Michelin to let you go to a track and test their Pilot Sports vs Pilot Aspin vs X-Ice3 on a clean dry surface at below freezing temperatures.

    (Copied this from a comment thread for better visibility, the idea of people driving around thinking they are ok will summer tires in freezing temps is a serious safety concern).

    Go to channels that review tires for a living like tyre reviews. At least get a all season that has a compound that will remain pliable during freezing temps, you may not need the ice and snow winter tire, but a performance one would be a great idea, or if you really can only have one set, then something like Michelin CrossClimate+ might be a viable option.

  14. Try the same test -18 degrees C or 0 F. At that temperature your summer tires will be hard as rock with little stopping power.

  15. Proof you should get all weather tires such as Michelin Crossclimate, Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady, or my Y-rated Vredestein Quatrac 5.

  16. Also worth noting that in rain/wet conditions winter tires are also better. I personally shift to winter tires once the daily high temperature is consistently below 50°F in my area (morning and evening road temps will typically be lower).

  17. This is the big deal right here — you're summer tires were never frozen. They didn't stay out all night in the cold so they never dropped below freezing temps that would affect your traction significantly. Driving out of a warm garage and keeping them moving will keep their temps relatively comfortable as far as the rubber is concerned.

    That aside the testing was well done (as usual). But I would recommend leaving them outside on a frigid night to let their temps really drop to the point where they'd be ineffective and retest immediately after installation, then say after a 30 minute cruise around town after they've warmed up. That would show you the difference!

  18. This semi-slick tyres get really fast up to temperature so you have friction despite the cold and when the tyre bild up some temperature and if its treadwear under 180 it doesen't matter the cold,the tyre performs well enough. But if you get summer tyre with treadwear 300 or above you will get not nearly good as this results. First you need a much longer drive to get up to temperature if you can get up to temperature,second the tyre looses temperature really fast when driving slow and that affects stopping and third you have a lot bigger contact patch with the semis than the winter tyres and more rubber means more friction

  19. Keep in mind if you want your snow tires to last awhile swapping them back and fourth and driving 55 and below is recommended.

  20. Just found this and I am so happy that you did this test. The internet is awash with people claiming that snow/winter tyres are necessary for cold weather (below 7degC), probably because the manufacturers are lying so much and the people posting comments have probably never actually driven n these conditions.
    I live in an area of Japan where it gets very cold but most of the time there is little snow. Your findings back up exactly my own experience perfectly. In cold dry weather, winter/snow tyres are actually much worse than regular summer tyres. I have often likened the feeling to that when you walk across a thick new carpet, everything is squishy and stopping is much more difficult.
    If you are on snow or ice, it's a totally different matter, and I wouldn't be without my Bridgestone Blizzaks but the fact is that the harder compounds of summer tyres work perfectly fine for normal driving in dry conditions.

  21. This test only applicable for your country and your car and tires. For more correct tests you need tires temperature, more tests with different outside temerature and different summer and winter tires.

  22. I think this really only tells half of the story for the winter tyre. You have to bare in mind that ice and cold-wet braking are a major issue, especially here in the UK.
    I've just fitted a set of Vredestein Wintrac Pro's to my Ford Mondeo ST (225/40 R18) and my first driving experience with them has been in torrential rain at ~5°C. I was quite blown away by how much more planted and sure footed the car is, even when trying to load up the tyre mid corner. There is a genuinely noticeable amount of additional lateral grip in the cold and wet conditions, and a very noticeable reduction in cold-wet braking distance when compared to my summer tyre (the Falken ZE914 – an A-rated wet tyre). You could say this may be down to the Falkens being slightly poor in the wet handling and wet grip department, but I can honestly say that they have been great, even compared to my previous two summer tyres – the Uniroyal Rainsport-3, and the Vredstein Ultrac Cento.
    So I would say that dispite the known and recognised issue with dry braking on winter tyres, if you live in temperatures below 7°C where rain and ice is an issue (certainly applies to the UK) the data out there would suggest that you're going to be a lot safer on average when running premium winter tyres. And there are plenty of more through tests out there on YouTube to back this up.

  23. You used a directional tire in this test, I personally never understood directional snow tires. Since not being able to stop is much more dangerous than getting stuck in most situations. I would love to see this test done with non directional snow tires and see if that makes a difference. On my two wheel drive truck I actually run directional snow tires on the back and regular snow tires on the front expecting a stopping advantage. I would love to know if I am accurate in my assumption or not

  24. I’m really curious as to how a high performance all season would compare to a summer tire in these same conditions, since winter tires aren’t really performance inspired

  25. You're also going from a race tire to a run of the mill winter tire that is not performance oriented.
    Sport winter tires exist, I'd like to see the rest redone with equivalent winter tires.

  26. It is quite concerning why you drove with regular gloves on (woven fabric?). Your hand could easily slip from the wheel and lose control of the car. Never drive with regular/winter gloves, if you want to drive with gloves – invest in professional gloves for driving so you don't lose grip and have good grip on the wheel. Just my 2c

  27. My reason i'm still driving my current car is because i use good tires. Otherwise i would have wrecked my car for sure

  28. Are there tires made specifically for cold dry roads?
    Here in the Mid-Atlantic region during winter it snows 3 or 4 times but most days it's just cold, usually 30s and 40s.
    Seeing how snow/winter tires aren't ideal for dry roads, which tire type is best? All seasons?

  29. Thanks for the video! I even recommended this channel to my neighbor personally, and he said that already knows about it and likes it. Keep up the good work!
    In my part of Texas, my only concern would be about all-season tires. It snows here once every 3 years, I think, but I also want to be able to travel to colder parts of the state.
    My grandmother gave me very wise advice: "Tires are not a place where you want to save money." Her point was that, if you cannot control your vehicle, you could have problems. Maybe big problems.

  30. Sucks for us living in areas where it can be 30 degrees in the morning and 65 degrees later in the day. Or if you're going on a long trip where it might be 20 degrees where you live but 75 at your destination. This is why all seasons exist.

  31. What this really shows is that your brake calipers are nice. They can actually output a decent bit of force for those slicks. I've been in many cars where you could easily outperform the brakes with Michael pilot racing tires.

  32. Real "summer tires" are already built with a soft traction friendly compound. The tread is made to have minimal voids for optimal rubber contact to the road. You should have tested with what 80% of the cars use… "all season" tires. There you have a "hard" rubber compound and lots of voids plus (generally) and fairly aggressive pattern to try to "grip the snow / mud. Real "snow" tires have both softer rubber and a fairly aggressive tread pattern… PLUS additional cuts in the tread blocks (called sipes) to "bite" into the snow but flex the tread blocks too much in dry conditions. It makes sense that the snows performed this way. They were at a disadvantage from the start. Summer tires ARE snow tires without the disadvantages… with less / no voids, soft compound and no sipes. This is a partial test at best in my opinion.

  33. Summer and winter compounds have specific operating temperatures. Depending on where you live, not having snow tires may void your insurance. Safe driving out there.

  34. I think if you're in an area with light occasional snow, you'd be better off with all-season tires. Summer tires are out of the question, any ice or snow is a death trap, while winter tires give up quite a bit of performance when dry. Of course, if it snows a little more than a few days during the winter season, definitely get winter tires, all-seasons don't actually do that great in snow, even on a 4wd.

  35. Do all-seasons vs. winter tires too. In NYC we get maybe two or three snowstorms a year, but it gets cold. I've debated whether to put winter tires on my car due to the low temperatures even though we get very few snow days, and this helped me feel better about opting against so far. But I run all-seasons (as do most people I think) and would love to see a test like that. Maybe not on a performance car either.

  36. I just bought Michelin X Ice for my Accord and it hasn't snowed yet (Colorado). Kinda wish it would so I could test them. I know there will be plenty of snow in the weeks ahead. Thanks for the test, nice 2000.

  37. I think this isn’t necessarily the case of stopping distance at all times, even in dry conditions, yet above freezing temp. summer tires can get so hard they’ll slip with fast cornering. An with just a slight moisture in the air and on the road you’re proper f*cked 🙁 let’s say temperature difference between day and night, or just crossing a river on a bridge. Wouldn’t say that, if I didn’t experience oversteer with summer tires on at +3 celsius.

  38. My understanding is that below glass transitions, your tires will wear much faster and risk cracking. That being said I live in Canada so… studded ice tires 5 months out of the year for me "sigh"…

  39. So, I feel as someone who creates formula's for realistic tire physics in a simulator, my input can be appreciated here… Tire grip is based on SEVERAL factors. Primarily, rubber hardness and contact area. Those two things vary significantly based on other factors. Temperature has a HUGE affect on hardness and summer tires are very susceptible to this. Summer compounds can actually crack and desintigrate below freezing temperatures. Winter compounds obviously handle the cold better but melt and feel greasy at lower temperature. So that's why I think anyone would believe they would perform better in the dry. HOWEVER. The second primary factor is affect MUCH more by the tread design than most people realise. A slick will have 85% of it's contact area in grip under load. That number varies based on the asphalt texture, but not by much. An all season tread design typically has 50% of it's contact area's grip longitudinally. A winter tread design typically is only 40%. What this means is that even though the coefficient of grip of the rubber from it's hardness may be in the range of 10-20% better… That tread design falls on it's face under load and costs you 30-40%. A net decrease of total grip of 20-40%

  40. Good timing on this video. I'm going though the same consideration since the first day of winter is here. I concluded that it's better to use summer tires in dry winter conditions especially if you have a mild winter in your area. Winter tires handle poorly when it gets 45F+ (common during winter in many areas) and aren't that good in rain. Mushy handling would be a deal killer for a sports car. They're heavier and softer so have more rolling resistance making stopping distance longer and acceleration worse unless you're on snow/ice or cold wet roads. They used to be called 'snow' tires, but now manufacturers are pushing for them to be for 'cold temperatures' as well, however they typically focus on how they good they're on wet (not dry) winter roads.

  41. FOR ALL AMERICANS It’s a must! American all season tires are more like summer tires, not like ones in Europe that are more like winter tires.
    Stop saving money on winter tires! AWD doesn’t cut it without winter tires. In the end it costs you more if you don’t have them.

  42. I clicked the video so you made .0001 for my view. Now I live in the snow belt. The answer is yes!! Real snow tires for real snow….

  43. Alex on Autos frequently mentions that wider tires give significantly shorter stopping distances. That probably explains your results.

  44. Everything is the same, apart from tyre sizes?? Seriously? That's a crucial factor! Sure most braking is done on the front due to weight transfer, but it's still going to have a noticeable effect! Plus the ABS issue you mentioned. For this test to be valid you need the same size tyres, sorry Jason but you've dropped a clanger here.

  45. Actually everything underneath 40 m is pretty good, but if you have the chance to stop earlier that's of course even better and inm this scenario right here, the brakes temperatures are not less important: can falsify the result a little – some cars brake better with warm brakes, others with cold ones.

    I didn't expect those results. Maybe that's why the German law doesn't say to have to put them on in a specific time period or temperature, but if snow or ice is on the road. That's important to know for the northern, more flat regions, because they don't have snow so often.

  46. This is misleading and conflicting. Reason being you’re only testing braking distance. Need to test acceleration from 0-60 and cornering grip. The winter tire’s compound likely will outperform the summer tires in both categories.

  47. Sadly not testing at the sub zero temps all experience in northern states so the test is useless for most that use winter tires.
    And some winter tires are specifically designed for stopping
    and handling and some are not.
    Performance winters will stop, corner, and shed water as well as most summer tires.
    But i wouldn't expect a millennial from California to know all that 😉

  48. I live in north Sweden. I have noticed that summer tire works fine when it's dry and just a few degrees C cold. When I gets colder you got an affect on the road that makes it slipper allot. That effect gets bigger with lower temp.

    An other thing. You should use wintertires on dry ground for 100km before testing. Don't know how much you drove the day before.

    But yeah. If you live in a area where you get below 32F you can just leave the car when it snows.

  49. Interesting test. Even more reason to consider quality all-season tires that will have better dry (and probably wet) performance than a winter tire, unless you live in a climate where there is a lot of seasonal snow.

    I used to bother with winter tires here in Chicago, but really just gave up a few years back because realistically they were totally underutilized. The city (and state) plow main roads very well and there is rarely any compacted snow until you enter a parking lot or something… I've been a big fan of Continental ExtremeContact DWS's on my Focus and recently the Michelin Pilot A/S 3's on my Mazda 3.

  50. One really has to actually drive with these or even ride in a vehicle with them to be sold on winter tires, the softness of the rubber makes a huge difference in the snow. However I must agree with the dry cold testing. I have had them on my Crown Vic and currently on my Grand Cherokee and when even real cold the winters are noticeably more squirmy particularly during a corner when dry. When snow is on the road though the difference in traction is night and day. Winter tires are SO much safer than summers, all season or all terrain. Like he said, if you live in a cold but mostly dry area don't bother with winter tires. But if you live where it snows often like I do winter tires are the only way to go.

  51. No you don’t “ need “ them persay .. But you don’t need seatbelts , airbags and abs too.. until you have a crash that has now cost you more than a set of tyres …

  52. Wow, this is indeed fascinating. But I came to this video from your previous test of bad vs good tires — good tires (and the ones you're testing as summer tires here) were the clear winner. Clearly those summer tires are great — are the winter tires as good (even if still winter tires)? Maybe it makes sense to put on winter tires later than I have been. Thanks for the test!

  53. How is this even a question??

    Of course you need winter tyres for cold conditions. Anything below 5 degrees C (42F?) makes summer compounds hard and far less grippy.

    No snow doesn't exclude frozen rain water, freezing rain or rime.

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