When purchasing snow tires, purchase well before the snowy season, as most tire shops stock snow tires only in the fall. For safety's sake, buy all four tires at once; having two tires that grip well and two that don't is detrimental to vehicle control in icy conditions. Allow room in the budget for installation, as most tire shops charge between $10 and $20 for mounting and balancing. Furthermore, additional fees may apply for the disposal of old tires.
Snow tires are designed to stop faster, grip roads and climb hills better, and prevent the vehicle from losing control in icy, slippery conditions. In the absence of snow, the tires still perform better and stay softer than all-season tires. Performance snow tires offer more grip than regular snow tires on cold, wet or dry pavement. Studded snow tires offer the most grip in severely icy conditions but are noisy and can be uncomfortable to ride on.
Snow tires are made of softer rubber than all-season tires, so they wear out faster. Good brands of snow tires should last 20,000 miles or more, or about three winter seasons. Snow tires do not typically come with treadwear warranties, but the best snow tire brands carry at least a five-year warranty against tire defects, so check with the manufacturer before purchasing.