BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tires on a Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Are winter tires needed in Northern Virginia?

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

With winter being around the corner, drivers are looking into getting their vehicles ready for any possible inclement weather we may experience. Purchasing and replacing their tires with winter tires is one way some prepare.

There are a lot of questions people may have about winter tires. Here are some recommendations and information regarding this option.

Why should you check tires before winter?

Before winter, you will want to make sure that your tires are in good shape. Is the tread worn down? Do you have steel belts showing through the inside or outside edge? How are the sidewalls looking? Is the tire old or starting to crack due to age and weather? So, one of the most important factors is the condition of your tires. Most people have all season tires, so for places like commuting from the Woodbridge area your tires are going to be OK for the winter. But if they’re worn, they won’t be able to move water away as well.

If you have performance tires, which tend to be very grippy and good for the summertime, you may want to consider all season or winter tires for your vehicle.

For most of the driving that we do around here in Northern Virginia, all season tires are going to be the best bet for most drivers. 

For something like a Mazda Miata or a BMW that has performance tires, it’s a good idea to have either another set of tires or a set of rims and tires, so you can switch them all out for the wintertime. That way, you don’t have to worry about scratching up your nice rims. It will make a big difference, especially if you’re commuting.

What are the best types of tires for winter?

Depending on the type of vehicle that you have – whether it’s a car, truck or SUV – there are many choices. Some of it comes down to aesthetics, such as the look, and a lot of it is related to how the tire performs.

If you have an SUV or truck and want a tire with an aggressive design that you know can make it through the snow, the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire is a great option. It’s a tough, all-terrain tire that is rated for severe snow.

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire

For pickup trucks and SUVs typically used on the roads, the Michelin Premier LTX Tire is one to consider. That is an excellent tire. Not only is it good in wet weather – which is what we mainly see around here – but you know that you’ll be able to get around if it snows.

The Michelin Premier LTX Tire.
Michelin Premier LTX Tire. Photo courtesy of Michelin

Do you drive a car or SUV? We recommend the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire is surprisingly good in winter, because it acts like a tractor tire. It isn’t rated as a winter tire, but it offers great grip in all seasons.

The BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire.
BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire

Those who are looking for a true winter tire should look into the Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire, which provides confidence in snowy and icy conditions. Backed by a 40,000 mile warranty, this winter tire offers snow traction and does well braking in icy conditions. Drivers that use the Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire have a lower chance of hydroplaning, thanks to the tire’s tread design and tread blocks.

Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire. Photo courtesy of Michelin.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of snow tires and all season tires?

Snow tires are made for wintertime. They are designed for snow and maintaining traction when going over ice. Any tire will have a limited amount of traction in icy weather, but usually winter tires are a bit softer. The tread and siping are made to give you the most traction as you’re moving down the road.

Because winter tires are softer, they tend to wear faster when used on regular roads during the summertime. That’s why it’s a good idea to have them as a second set of tires for the winter. 

All season tires are the popular option, since they’re great year round and a lot of people don’t have room to store another set of tires. The all season tires perform well in summer and winter. You still want to make sure the tread depth and tire condition are good.

With Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal tires, your all season tire is going to get you around confidently.

How much do winter tires cost? How does that compare to all season tires?

How much you pay for tires depends on whether you’re driving a regular vehicle – like a Honda Accord or a Toyota Corolla, a Kia, small SUV, or a Chevy Tahoe – or whether you’re renting a Toyota pickup truck or an F-350 Dually. 

Depending on the size of the tire and the model of the tire, you can be looking at anywhere from $60 to $500 per tire. We realize that is a wide range, but it depends on what kind of vehicle it is, what are the performance characteristics of the tire – whether it’s a winter tire or all season tire. Uniroyal and BFGoodrich are both good and may be more economically minded compared to Michelin. The top of the line in that group is Michelin.

Obviously everybody has their own budget, but we recommend purchasing the best tires that you can afford. The tire is the only component in contact with the ground and makes the car go and stop. Everything else controls the tire. If you’re going to invest in your vehicle, this is where you want to invest your money.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.