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Why Do I Need Four Snow Tires For My Two-Wheel-Drive Vehicle?

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It might be 50 degrees in New England today, but rest assured, it will be snowing soon. Winter tires have big benefits in the snow belt.  Here’s how to know if you need four, or can get away with just two.

Back in the days of wooden ships and iron men New Englanders would slap on a pair of Sears RoadHandlers on the back of our rear-wheel drive cars and tackle the worst winter could throw at us.  If you asked for snow tires on the front, the Sears guys would all have a laugh at your expense and ask if you wanted the blinker fluid topped off while they were at it.

After I landed my first job out of college I considered my self a new-age man and bought a Honda Civic SI hatchback.  Yet, my Boston-area roots still had a hold on me.  I mounted two snow tires on the just the front of that front-wheel drive car and it was like a SkiDoo.  I remember passing my stuck co-workers on the hill that led to our office.  I was even able to stop on the icy slope and pick up the stranded with no problem restarting.Sears roadhandler 1200Times have changed, snow tires have become winter tires, and the current thinking is that you need winter rubber at all four corners.

The good folks that sell tires point out that winter tires do much more than help you go.  They also work much better than all-season tires at stopping and turning and if you want all four of your tires to do those things, then you better ante up and get four tires.  There are no holes to poke in this logic.  Four winter tires do work better than just two.  Also, since the snow tires are logging miles during the winter, your “summer” tires are resting.  Over the life of the car owning four won’t cost you much more money.

That said, if you have an old-school winter beater like old American station wagon or two-wheel drive junk truck and you simply want to be able to get started in the white stuff, mounting just two winter tires will accomplish that.  Millions of New Englanders can attest to that fact.

To read more about winter driving than just tires, check out the BestRide Ultimate Guide to Winter Driving.

Top of page image courtesy of Alvarez Metal Works and Youtube


John Goreham

John Goreham