All-Wheel Drive vs. Snow Tires: Which is Better for Winter Driving?

a red vehicle in contrast to which is between between all-wheel drive and snow tires

The combination of freezing road surfaces and slippery snow makes winter driving treacherous. Drivers have two choices to stay safe: an all-wheel-drive car or a two-wheel drive car equipped with snow tires. Learn the strengths of each option to decide whether you are better served by snow tires or an all-wheel-drive car.

Why Buy All-Wheel Drive Autos for Winter?

Whether you prefer an SUV, crossover, truck, or car, you will find a version equipped with all-wheel drive, which chooses whether to send power to the front or back tires depending on the terrain. Two-wheel drive autos, in contrast, send power either to the front or back depending on the individual make and model. The advantage of all-wheel drive is that power goes where your car needs it to improve traction in rough terrains, such as winter weather.

If you live in an area with heavy winters or wet, muddy springs, all-wheel drive is a smart choice. These cars can give drivers peace of mind that is well worth their extra price.

One of the cons is their gas mileage, which tends to be less than comparable two-wheel-drive cars. You will pay more upfront for all-wheel drive, plus more each time you gas up, so two-wheel drive cars are a better choice for budget shoppers.

Why Buy Snow Tires for Winter

Fans of snow tires like the ability to get better traction on winter roads just by putting on a new set of tires. Dedicated snow tires have a more flexible tread that grips the road and freezing conditions, which helps to reduce skids. These tires have a deeper groove than all-season tires, which increases traction on snow and ice. With all-season tires, there’s a risk of skidding if the tire treads become impacted by snow and ice.

If you live in an area that only sees snow occasionally, snow tires should suffice. As long as you remove them promptly at the end of winter, you will be able to use them for several years to come.

Winter tires or snow tires are not cheap, but they do cost less than an all-wheel-drive car. End-of-season sales often bring discounts. By planning ahead, you can save money. If you are planning to go out of the state, you may want to decide on the shipping factor as well. Know how to ship a car to another state that can save you a little more money in your pocket.

Now that you understand how snow tires are compared to all-wheel-drive vehicles, you can decide what’s best for you. With either choice, it’s important to stay safe and remember basic winter driving principles. 

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