Does Tire Width Affect Winter Performance?

If you live in a snowy part of the world, you’ve likely come across the assertion that narrow tires offer better grip in the snow. Conversely, you may have encountered the argument that wider tires are superior because they provide more rubber surface, resulting in increased grip. So who’s correct?

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Well, Tyre Reviews decided to find out, and put four winter tires of varying width on the same car, to see which one was best in a new video. All were from Hankook and the three widest were from the same line, however, the slimmest one featured a different tread pattern, which may have affected its performance.

So, which one performed the best? Well, from a subjective point of view, it was hard to say for sure. The host reports that all of the tires worked well on the test track, with only some minor differences in feel. The one clear advantage that the narrowest tire had was its extra sidewall, which made driving along the bumpy snow track a little more comfortable.

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Read: These Icy Winter Weather Accidents Are Sliding Into Your Feed

 Does Tire Width Affect Winter Performance?

Unfortunately, the data wasn’t a whole lot more helpful. Neither the widest nor the slimmest tire were the fastest. In actuality, the second-narrowest tire (225/45 R18) had the best lap of 82.29 seconds, which was a little under a second faster than the 205/60 R16 tire and around 2.4 seconds faster than the widest tire combination, which paired a 255/35 R19 at the front with a 275/35 R19 at the back.

The data only gets more confusing when it comes to braking and acceleration tests. Whereas the narrowest tire was certainly the fastest off the line, it took the longest in the braking test. As a normal driver, I know which I’d prefer, and it’s the ability to slow down.

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Ultimately, when all the test results were tallied up, the narrowest tire did come out on top. However, the channel says that the differences were very small. So much in fact, that the tire compound and tread pattern make a much bigger impact on performance.

And that may actually be what’s going on here. If you eliminate the narrowest tire, which features a different tread pattern, and look only at the three others, the difference in performance is negligible. So if you’re looking for the best performance possible this winter, you should be shopping for design and compound, not width.

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