Are Winter Tyres Better Than AWD

Published Date: 24th Oct 2020

If you are thinking about buying a new car and wondering whether to get 2WD or AWD or if winter tyres are the way forward it can come down to a number of factors....

Car in the snow

First of all, if we are talking about trying to get your car up a steep hill with snow on the ground then winter tyres are going to be of huge benefit, in fact in many controlled tests with like for like FWD cars equipped with winter tyres and 4WD equivalent, the 2WD with winter tyres proved to be a great deal better in the snow. How so?... Well, while an AWD system distributes and improves torque it can't however improve grip, this is all down to your tyres and standard tyres are inefficient when it comes to snow.

One of the big benefits of winter tyres are the narrow grooves and special designed tread patterns which reduces the build up of snow, standard tyres in the the snow can quickly feel like slicks tyres on ice, getting virtually no traction at all because the snow builds up in the tread and it sticks.

Car in the snow

Winter tyres also feature a special rubber compound designed to perform better at lower temperatures, a standard rubber tyre needs to get warmed up to perform at it's best and provide the best traction, so even without the snow and ice, in the cold a winter tyre is still offering clear benefits.

What about in wet conditions? Yes, again winter tyres are specially designed to disperse water more efficiently than standard tyres so there are clear benefits.

The safety benefits are also big too, winter tyres can significantly improve braking distances in challenging winter conditions.

Your final consideration is going to be financial how much extra will an AWD car cost you and how much will a decent set of winter tyres cost? Most popular SUVs on the market offer a 4WD/AWD option but it can be a £1000 upwards extra compared with the 2WD equivalent.

So in conclusion, if you are talking about driving in the snow/ice then winter tyres offer huge benefits and improved safety, for less tricky conditions the benefits are reduced. It might come down to where you do most of your driving, if you live in the highlands, see lots of snow and very low temperatures then winter tyres are probably a no-brainer. In fact you might want to consider an AWD vehicle equipped with winter tyres which is going to provide the best option of all.