Last update: November, 2017
Are all-terrain tires good in snow?
A glimpse at the tread characteristics of most all-terrain tires might have you thinking "yes," but that's not necessarily the case. While all-terrain tires have the aggressive tread design and depth to cope with snow and messy winter conditions, not all will inspire when old man winter strikes.
Because winter performance is about much more than aggressive tread design. Just because an all-terrain tire maintains traction in mud, dirt, and the like doesn’t necessarily mean results will be the same during winter.
Tire compound, or the material composition of the tire is crucial for snow and wintertime performance. Snow/winter tire compounds are uniquely engineered to remain pliable in freezing temperatures. If the tire compound is not intended or suitable for use in freezing temperatures, then it will harden and not properly interact with the road surface and conditions.
In recent years the all-terrain tire segment has responded to the increased demand for all-terrain tires that perform well in snow. A growing group of all-terrain tires are snow rated, and meet objective snow performance criteria established by the U.S. Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Rubber Association of Canada. These all-terrain tires are marked with the mountain snowflake symbol:
A complete list of current snow rated all-terrain tires with the mountain snowflake symbol is below.
What about all-terrain tires that are not snow rated? Are they not good in snow and winter?
Plenty of drivers have had success with "standard" all-terrain tires through winter. But if you're looking specifically for an all-terrain tire that provides a definite and objective level of snow performance, then selecting from the following group is probably the surest course of action.
(NOTE that meeting the snow performance criteria doesn't mean that these all-terrain options are equivalent to true winter tires. Across the full range of wintry conditions -- dry, wet, messy, slushy, icy, etc. -- winter tires are the superior option.)
All-terrain tires with the mountain snowflake symbol:
+ BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
+ Cooper Discoverer A/TW
+ Falken Wildpeak A/T3W
+ General Grabber AT2 (not every size/spec)
+ Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure (not every size/spec)
+ Hankook Dynapro AT-M (not every size/spec)
+ Kumho Road Venture AT51 (not every size/spec)
+ Sumitomo Encounter AT
+ Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015