Can You Drive In The Snow With Regular Tires? (Full Guide)

As a vehicle owner, you need to know which tires to use during a particular season for better performance and safety of your car.

During the winter season, in particular, drivers are advised to use the right tires, especially if the roads are covered in snow and ice. What if you don’t have snow tires, can you drive on snow? Here’s all you need to know.

Can You Drive In Snow Without Snow Tires?

You can drive on snow with other tires like the all-season tires, but only when the snow is moderate. Otherwise, if the roads are completely covered, it’s recommended that you change your all-season or summer tires to winter ones. During winter, the weather can be unpredictable; therefore, it’s better to use snow tires for better grip and traction.

For more information about driving on snow, whether it’s safe to use other types of tires and when to use snow tires, keep on reading!

Most new car brands come fitted with all-season tires because they can last more seasons than other tires.

While these tires are ideal for light snow conditions, tire manufacturers recommend that drivers switch to winter tires when the snow is heavy, especially between Thanksgiving and Easter, because the temperatures drop below 45ºF.

While all seasons can handle moderate snow, light rain, and cold temperatures, other options such as summer tires should not be used at all. Their design and composition are not meant for cold temperatures.

According to a Consumer Reports survey, only two in five Americans use snow tires. 67% of these respondents said they didn’t think they needed winter tires because they have all-season tires, while 53% said it’s because they have an all-wheel-drive vehicle (AWD).

However, winter tires are still more beneficial than other tires, even if you drive an all-wheel-drive car.

Do You Need Snow Tires To Drive In The Snow?

Do You Need Snow Tires To Drive In The Snow?

You need snow tires when driving on snow because they have better grip and traction than other tires.

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According to some drivers, they make all the difference and come in handy when driving through snow-covered roads because they provide better traction during long-distance travel.

Based on the CR survey, most drivers avoid driving during winter because they are worried about losing traction or getting stuck. However, if they had winter tires, they would be more confident.

During manufacturing, snow tires are made using softer rubber compounds which help in enhancing the grip.

You also need snow tires because they outperform tires like all seasons when the road is covered in snow.

What makes snow tires the most ideal?

The Rubber Compounds

Snow tires are made with a rubber compound that can handle cold temperatures. When the temperatures drop, the rubber is not affected and remains flexible, making it easier to drive through snow.

Winter tires also have microscopic pores that absorb the thin layer of water on the snow when the rubber compound contacts the snow, preventing skidding.

However, for all-season and summer tires, when the temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the rubber compound becomes brittle and stiff, affecting the flexibility and how the tire performs.

The Tread Pattern

Compared to the all-season tires, winter tires have well-designed treads. The tread grooves are wide enough to allow snow packing, which also prevents the tire from sliding.

Once the tire grabs the snow, your car gets extra grip, and you can travel for longer.

The Sipes

When you buy snow tires, you’ll notice that they have small slits in a unique configuration known as sipes. These openings open up as the tire comes in contact with snow; therefore, creating a biting edge when driving on snow.

Additionally, the sipes can cut through the snow and soak up the top water layer.

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Treads and sipes on winter tires increase your car’s traction by up to 50%; therefore, you’ll have better control over steering and can stop faster on ice and snow.

What Can You Use If You Don’t Have Snow Tires?

Most drivers agree that snow tires should be used when driving on snow-covered roads.

However, most of them don’t pay attention to this; therefore, they end up being stuck on the road when the tires can’t grip the road anymore.

But if you don’t have snow tires, what else can you use if the road has heavy snow.

Tire Chains

Tire Chains

Tire chains come in handy when driving through mountainous areas that have roads completely covered in snow.

However, tire chains are state-regulated in most areas due to their impact on the roads and are only allowed when necessary and in steep areas.

Tire chains work because the metal wraps around the tire to boost traction and grip. When buying these chains, remember that they come in different chain sizes for particular tire sizes; therefore, you need to get the right size to avoid damaging your tires.

Additionally, you shouldn’t exceed the speed limit, usually set at 30mph. They should be added on all four tires, and they are effective when the roads are covered by deep snow and black ice.

Tire Socks

A cheaper alternative for the tire chains is snow socks. These reusable snow socks pull over the wheel like a pillow cover tightly. Designed with unique textiles, they provide the tire with the necessary grip to move through the snow.

Snow socks are available for all types of cars, from passenger vehicles to buses. Additionally, they cost half the cost of snow tires.

Should You Install Four Winter Tires At Once?

Yes, if you want to switch your tires to snow tires, you need to change all of them. This is important to maintain the stability and performance of the car on the road.

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Otherwise, installing three or two tires will just lead to more wear out, and it becomes expensive in the long run.

How To Drive Safely In The Snow?

Before you drive in the snow, ensure that your tires are in good condition. Here are some tips on what to check.

Check Air Pressure

Check Air Pressure

Underinflation or overinflation can easily cause accidents, especially when driving on snow. Your tires need to be inflated within the correct PSI to prevent you from skidding.

Check The Tread Depth

One advantage of snow tires is that they have a deeper depth than other tires. Therefore, if your roads have more snow than usual, go for a brand with deeper grooves, which translates to better grip and traction.

Reinforce The Tires

In extreme conditions or steep mountainous roads, you can add tire chains to your tires to ease movement. As long as it’s within the legally allowed period, you can use them to move around to avoid getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.

To find out more, you can also read our posts on whether or not tires chains work, how long do winter tires last, and what are tire socks.


Driving during winter can be a scary experience for most drivers, especially if your tires don’t have enough traction to handle the snow.

While you can use other regular tires such as all-season on snow, it should only be when it’s light and moderate. However, when the roads are fully packed with snow, it’s advisable to switch to winter tires.

Snow tires are designed to handle the temperature change, their rubber compounds are pretty flexible, and they have deeper tread grooves to drive through the snow without getting stuck.

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