Dedicated winter tires will help your truck or SUV get a better grip on snow and ice. The prices that follow are for 245/70-17 tires, such as those appropriate for a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or Jeep Grand Cherokee, or for the closest size offered.
The Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 (Est. $135) is the runaway favorite of both experts and owners. Ultra-deep tread makes it unbeatable in the snow, experts say, and its performance on ice is excellent. It's a top pick at both Canada's Automobile Protection Association and a leading U.S. testing organization.
Owners absolutely rave about its real-world grip. Customers at TireRack.com award the DM-V1 the highest possible ratings on wet, snowy and icy roads and slightly lower (but still excellent) scores for dry-cornering stability and steering response.
"In my 24 years of driving experience throughout Europe, as well as here in Canada ... the Bridgestone DM-V1 tyres are the BEST tyres that I have used for harsh winter conditions," says one TireRack.com customer from Calgary, Alberta.
Two separate TireRack.com experts recommend the DM-V1 as the best winter tire for trucks and SUVs and say it's the one they run on their personal vehicles. Staffer Gary Stanley uses the DM-V1 on his family's Mazda CX-7. Once, he bought an all-wheel-drive Infiniti coupe with all-season tires -- and drove it home through a snowstorm, white-knuckled and slow. His wife sailed along in the Mazda, with the DM-V1s "making easy work of the conditions."
A runner up in TireRack.com's owner review rankings, the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 (Est. $155) also delivers outstanding snow traction and ice braking in one leading U.S. test, but owners say when roads get really messy the Blizzak winter tire has the edge. If winter in your area means deep snow, critics recommend the studdable Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 (Est. $130) , which is critics' favorite studdable tire for passenger cars as well.
The Automobile Protection Association (APA) points out that truck and SUV owners can sometimes save money by minus-sizing -- buying a smaller wheel and a narrower tire for snow use -- even considering the expense of buying the second set of wheels. This can expand the number of brands light truck and SUV owners can choose from, as smaller winter tires are easier to find. Traditionally, this is cheaper than having a garage swap your tires on the existing rims. "Savings of $80 to $300 per set of four are possible by downsizing the wheel and tire combination, depending on the vehicle," the APA says.
However, if your vehicle is equipped with a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS), you'll have to buy sensors for your snow tires' wheels, too, (or install your snow tires yourself). That's because a new federal rule prohibits installers from "knowingly [making] the TPMS system inoperative," ConsumerReports.org reports.
Your tire retailer has guides that list appropriate substitute sizes for your vehicle.