Snowplows are well-known for working in tough conditions. Tens of inches of snow are serious business while icy roads are clearly nothing to joke about. Despite all this, a snowplow has to not only drive through such conditions, but also be able to do its job of plowing snow. Driving big distances is also pretty much a given, having days where a snowplow has to drive many hundreds of miles a day to keep the roads in tip-top condition. Seeing all this, the tire choice for your snowplow is paramount to its success. If you just pick any old tire to do such a difficult task you are asking for numerous problems.
Best Studless Winter Tires for a Snowplow
1.Continental VikingContact 7
Breaking Distance: 8 Comfort: 7 Handling: 9 Traction: 8
The people over Continental produced a serious winter tire when they developed the VikingContact 7. They developed a special rubber compound with very good characteristics in the coldest of weathers. What that means is that the VikingContact 7 will keep its elasticity and not turn into wooden skates if the weather turns from worse to horrendous. Its snow performance is exemplary, having a tread pattern developed solely for snow. Using this tread pattern allows the tire to gain all the necessary grip even when there’s a bit of slush, or when the snow has just fallen.
Continental also developed a special technology in regard to their tire’s grooves. The 3D Trapez Sipes make it so that the breaking distance and cornering performance remains on top of its game regardless of the weather or temperature, claim which is backed up by serious tests.
However, their ice performance isn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination. It’s still better than most tires and quite high up, but a bit uninspiring. The rolling resistance is also mediocre, meaning that you shouldn’t expect high fuel economy from the tire.
2.Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
Breaking Distance: 9 Comfort: 7 Handling: 8 Traction: 10
Bridgestone developed the Blizzak DM-V2 with Nordic winters in mind, found in Scandinavia or Northern Canada. This translates into a potent winter tire, capable of tackling even the harshest of snowfalls. Similar to other winter tires, the people over at Bridgestone developed a special compound for the tire, with the goal being that it keeps its properties in the coldest climates and succeeding in the process.
To get a step above their competition, Bridgestone gave the Blizzak DM-V2 a “micro-texture pattern”, meaning that each tire block has a fine tread pattern. Basically, the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 has a tread pattern on its tread pattern. This optimizes snow performance, allowing them to squeeze the last bit of traction out of the tire. They made it so that the contact patch is perfectly symmetrical, allowing you to get a predictable performance out of the tire.
The tire obviously also has downsides. That micro-texture pattern isn’t very tall, as such it will wear out quite fast. Knowing this, the tire will also wear out quite fast, or at the very least lose some of its characteristics with wear. This also means that dry roads are to be avoided. That special micro-tread pattern will fade away quite quickly while rubbing directly with the asphalt.
Breaking Distance: 9 Comfort: 6 Handling: 9 Traction:10
Michelin is the go-to brand when looking at tires, doing excellent work in all aspects. The Michelin X-Ice is no exception but follows a bit of a different route when compared to other winter tires. First and foremost, Michelin are experts on tread patterns, and the X-Ice shows exactly that. They overengineered the tread pattern with many different long sipes and grooves to extract all the possible grip out of the tire, regardless of conditions. Snow, ice, and slush performance is exemplary.
What Michelin adds to the equation, which few manufacturers do, is giving you a treadwear warranty of 40,000 miles. According to them, they last one additional winter when compared to a regular winter tire. This means that the X-Ice is one of the best candidates for driving long distances as a snowplow.
Where they don’t particularly shine is driving in the wet. They can break in the wet just fine but driving in the wet is a bit more challenging when compared to leaner winter tires. They also suffer from poor rolling resistance, so while you’re gaining wear mileage, you’re subtracting from fuel economy.
Best Studded\Studdable Winter Tires for a Snowplow
1.Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9
Breaking Distance: 10 Comfort: 5 Handling: 8 Traction: 10
Nokian is based in Finland where winters are known to be harsh, to say the least. That means that if there’s a brand out there that knows how to make a proper winter tire, that brand is without a doubt Nokian with their Hakkapeliitta 9. This tire uses two different kinds of studs based on placement: ones on the inside of the contact patch, others on the outside. This allows Nokian to provide the best traction on ice while turning.
The tread pattern is also designed heavily towards snow, having many aggressive sipes and grooves to give you the most traction during days with heavy snowfall. The tire’s structure is built out of special steel with the ability to keep its elasticity even in way below freezing temperatures. Due to the studs, the ice performance is unmatched having sublime traction and breaking performance.
Not all is sunshine and rainbows though. They aren’t the most comfortable tires out there, both as ride quality and as noise. They don’t have a huge amount of feedback and feel quite a bit lackluster. Rolling resistances are low, and grip in the dry isn’t anything to write home about.
2.General Grabber Arctic
Breaking Distance: 8 Comfort: 7 Handling: 8 Traction: 9
General Tire usually make half decent tires but are still able to keep them affordable. The Grabber Arctic is no exception of that rule. General Tire added quite a few technological bits and pieces to their tire to hold a high-quality standard, one of those being their Duragen Technology. This changes the internal structure of the tire and keeps it highly flexible in the harshest of temperatures, allowing you to hold traction and not slide around on tighter corners.
They also thought of where the studs should go, providing you with the best stud arrangement for ice grip. The tread pattern is also reinforced with ribs. This makes the tread pattern stay in contact and not lose grip when a certain tire block bends due to stress, thus maintaining high stability and grip.
Its downside is that, while the General Grabber Arctic does a good job across the board, it only does a good job. On top of that, performance in the dry leaves a lot to be desired, and the same can be said about the wet performance.
3.Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw
Breaking Distance: 7 Comfort: 7 Handling: 8 Traction: 8
The engineers over at Cooper decided to stay clear of overly complex tread patterns like Michelin but to compensate they developed an unique compound. That doesn’t mean however that the tread pattern is dodgy. Cooper still tried to improve the classic winter tire by adding their Snow-Groove Technology which makes the lateral grooves more aggressive and somewhat ribbed to improve traction in corners.
To help the compound, which is a bit harder than others, they gave the tire blocks multiple sipes, so the tire has room to bend and flex, helping the rougher and tougher compound to still bend during freezing conditions. The tire is also studdable, so expect good traction on ice.
The caveat is that the studs aren’t placed fantastically well. They only sit on the edges of their Snow-Groove Technology, the center rib having no studs to speak of. This translates into poorer ice traction during breaking and acceleration, but still significantly better than a studless tire. However, the cornering traction remains impressive. Their studless performance is decent, but they did what they could with a tougher compound. As a legitimate winter tire, the dry performance is also mediocre.
Best Tires for a Snowplow: Buying Guide
In regions with heavy snowfalls and little ice, a studless winter tire is your best bet for a snowplow
If you live in a region where there’s a bunch of snow and temperatures don’t go above freezing in the winter, then there isn’t a huge point of getting a studded winter tire for your snowplow. For the most part, you’ll drive on compacted snow or directly on the asphalt where snow didn’t have time to melt and freeze again into ice. Seeing all this, there isn’t a major point in getting a dedicated studded winter tire, so going studless will suffice. Bear in mind that owing a 4WD truck or 2WD truck as a snowplow isn’t important when picking a tire. A truck with 2WD and the best tires available will outclass a 4WD truck with all-season tires massively, both in terms of traction but also from a performance and fuel economy point of view. Not only that, but winter tires are the only kind of tires which allows you to plow the snow off a highway or an express road. Those are the roads on which people will drive with a decent speed, even during winter times.
All-season tires are an absolute no-go when looking at a snowplow. The pick-up truck will drive hundreds of miles a day with plenty of chances to lose traction which can become very dangerous very fast. All-season tires, even the ones developed more towards the colder climates mustn’t be used in a pinch, because in almost 10 inches of snow they have no chance to overpower the snow. You are also putting yourself in great danger by even attempting to do so. A bad slide or loss of traction during breaking can end in disaster. Not only that, but the crash will be significantly worse due having a snowplow attached to the front of the car which can act like a blade against pedestrians.
A winter focused all-weather tire can be used in a pinch for short distances, like a cul-de-sac or a small neighborhood. Speeds will be low, distances will be shorter, and if no one appears to do it someone has to. They will have enough traction to get the work done, but anything higher speed will result in a danger similar to the all-season case. Highway speeds are an absolute no-go and shouldn’t be attempted even in a pinch.
If your region has fluctuating temperatures, live on the coast or you need to cross frozen lakes, a studded tire for your snowplow is a must have
The studs will give you all the needed traction to not lose grip in icy conditions. Fluctuating temperatures means that snow can melt and freeze up again coating the road in ice. Living on the coast usually means that a majority of the roads will be iced up. Crossing frozen lakes to get from point A to point B is also much easier to do with studded tires. Having to maintain an ice road without studded tires is difficult, because you don’t have the ability to maintain the necessary speed while plowing the snow and creating the road itself. This speed can range from as low as 6 mph and as high as 22 mph.
All ice roads have a lower speed limit and driving that speed limit whilst plowing the snow off the lake isn’t such an easy task. However, bear in mind that the studded tire can in fact damage the road surface and create significant scratches on the road. If these propagate the road can get compromised, so it’s your job to contact the local authorities and check what to do with that particular stretch of road.
Comfort and noise aren’t important factors when picking a studded tire. Its traction is paramount and what you should look after. A studded tire’s job is giving you the safest conditions possible while driving on roads and surfaces which shouldn’t be driven on. Driving on highways on the coast also mean that there’s a chance that you will face icy highways which will be driven at high speeds. High speed without control could end badly, so go for studded. Icy roads are more common on the coast due to the natural higher humidity in the air and how it can mix ever so slightly with the regular snow and melt it. This in turn coat the roads in ice, so studs are the way to go in those conditions, or at least a studdable tire.