Winter Tire Ratings: Our Testing Process
The winter tires in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching retailers like Tire Rack and Discount Tire for top products, looking at factors such as tread patterns, siping, customer ratings, and prices.
Our independent tire tester, Jonathan Benson of TyreReviews.com, ordered tires from all the top brands on the market. He is internationally renowned for performing some of the most involved and thorough testing in the industry.
Benson tested each winter tire’s wet and dry handling on a Volkswagen Golf MK8 at Nokian’s Spain Test Center. Snow and ice handling were tested using the same vehicle at Nokian’s “White Hell” Ivalo Testing Center in Finland.
Our tire testing, as always, consisted of a number of timed laps averaged out. Throughout testing, Benson utilizes control tires to benchmark the track’s surface evolution and ultimately calculate each winter tire’s rating in every single individual testing category. He took note of the tire’s snow handling, ice handling, wet handling, dry handling, and overall comfort.
Each tire was given a rating out of 10.0 based on these criteria.
Snow handling is one of the most important factors to consider if you’re looking for a high-quality winter tire. Benson went about testing each winter tire’s snow handling by averaging out the times of three laps around one of Nokian’s “White Hell” Ivalo Testing Center tracks. Standardized conditions are ensured by carefully preparing the track and grading the snow at the start of testing.
By nature, ice handling is a difficult test to do right. For each three-lap run, Benson raced across a frozen lake, putting each winter tire’s ice handling to the test. As the lake was fully frozen, the level of ice our independent tire tester was dealing with was immense.
On the road, the wet grip of a tire will likely determine your fate in an emergency. Hence the placing of wet handling near the top of our list of winter tire tests. This test involved three timed laps around one of Nokian’s Spain Test Center tracks in seriously wet conditions.
Regardless of where you live, winter tires are mainly going to be used on the road. This test involved three timed laps around one of Nokian’s Spain Test Center tracks in bone-dry conditions to simulate average road conditions.
The “comfort” of each winter tire is a subjective mixture of the tire’s overall comfort on the road as well as its general road noise level. This was tested throughout all other categories of testing and notes were taken throughout.
Why Trust Us
Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.
We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.
Because our testing expertise is centered around aftermarket car products and accessories, we decided to leave tire testing in the hands of a true tire expert. That’s why we reached out to Jonathan Benson who has more than 15 years of experience. His insight and hands-on testing combined with our extensive knowledge of aftermarket car products have been a perfect match.