Slim

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I was reading through a thread about snow tires and someone said new research showed wider tires were better in snow. The link was to Continental's website, but that didn't include any actual tests results.

Here is a link to an article in Autobild where they did test them, and they do also say that in most cases, wider winter tires are better.

In case you don't read German, 1 is best score, 6 is fail. Scnee is snow, Nass is wet. Bremsen is braking, the other words are similar enough to english that you should be able to read the table just fine.
 

Philpug

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I tend to err on the narrower side. I want to cut through. One of my points of reference, take a look at pick up trucks that are set up for serous snow plowing, they all have tall narrow tires that dig in because they want to get to solid ground. Now off road trucks and beach buggies for the sand, they want to stay on top of the sand, that is different.
 
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Slim

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Phil,

I have seen and subscribed to that same theory. I have smaller winter tires, also driven by cost and to keep the rims further from hidden curbs.
However, here there is a case where the wider tires actually tested better. Now, winter road conditions can be so variable, that there might well be conditions where the narrower tires perform better, but I would sure like to see a side by side test showing that.
 

DanoT

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I am not buying the claimed study results. In relative terms, narrow tires cut through the snow providing better traction, wider tires float on top.

When I worked in logging, the times that we fought snow, if the off-highway logging truck (carries 2-3 times the load compared to a highway log truck) tires weren't cutting through the snow then they parked until a grader could come by and clear/rough up the road.
 

wyowindrunner

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About 79 or 80- 24"+ of new snow and still coming down in the Wind Rivers-Sinks Canyon Rd. outside of Lander WY on the opening weekend of elk season. We had a caravan of 5-6 vehicles getting out of there assisting each other on the way over Blue Mountain to the old South Pass road -Dodge Power wagon was leading and got stuck uphill approaching a curve with wide tires-he had tire chains so we were chaining up the front tires on his rig when here comes an OLD Willys Jeep- Army Surplus? 5- 6" tires? Anyhow, there was just enough room for him to get around the other vehicles and he just chugged right around us and disappeared around the curve.
 

BGreen

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I can't read German and I don't know what kind of "schnee" they tested, but not all schnee is created equal. A wide tire and narrow tire are going to have roughly the same contact surface area, however they will have very different contact patch shapes. A short side wall will always corner better than a tall sidewall. A narrow tire has less material to displace than a wide tire. This isn't to say narrower is always better or wider is always better. Maybe I'm old school, but I will always go for a wider, taller tire. I can tell you that when I put the 235 snow tires from my Land Rover on my Suburban (stock size 265) it made a noticeable and positive difference in snow and slush, and a negative effect on dry. Hydroplaning decreased, but overall wet traction also decreased. Unfortunately when you are talking about tires, everything is a compromise.
 

Bill Talbot

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I go considerably narrower than my summer meats. In deeper snow, slush and frozen on top (in other words, the difficult conditions) they work amazingly well. In an inch or two of 20 degree snow it might not matter, but my findings say it does in the tough stuff. I live on the top a fairly challenging low speed hill with 'intermittent plowing'. I call it my snow tire challenge... Have had FWD, RWD and AWD cars with various tires and different width over the last twenty years and the differences are very noticeable.

YMMV
 

DanoT

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The test is bogus. Where are the direct comparison stopping distance numbers, acceleration, skid plate numbers?
The tester's +2, -1 etc. are meaningless comparisons.
 

James

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Seems like in Iceland they go wide, not narrow. Not talking about the super wide off road stuff, but street.
Of course that's based on tv shows...
Like "Trapped"


Those aren't skinny.
 

Tom K.

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Wide will be better on ice, narrow cuts through slush better.

Nothing gives me pause like the slush we get around here, so I make the call for a bit narrower.
 

crgildart

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Wide will be better on ice, narrow cuts through slush better.

Nothing gives me pause like the slush we get around here, so I make the call for a bit narrower.
Naw.. you want narrow carvers on ice and super fat for deep powder float. Do winter tires also have different camber options?
 
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Slim

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The test is bogus. Where are the direct comparison stopping distance numbers, acceleration, skid plate numbers?
The tester's +2, -1 etc. are meaningless comparisons.
I think they were summarizing the individual tires' results. Those are listed below that table
 

WheatKing

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Rally cars use narrow taller higher profile tires in snow.. and smaller, wider, lower profile tires in the dry.. most be something to it.. otherwise they'd be using different tires.
 

scott43

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I go considerably narrower than my summer meats. In deeper snow, slush and frozen on top (in other words, the difficult conditions) they work amazingly well. In an inch or two of 20 degree snow it might not matter, but my findings say it does in the tough stuff. I live on the top a fairly challenging low speed hill with 'intermittent plowing'. I call it my snow tire challenge... Have had FWD, RWD and AWD cars with various tires and different width over the last twenty years and the differences are very noticeable.

YMMV
And that's an important point. Fluffy, grippy snow? Great, wide tire, lots of siping, lots of grip. But slush and slop? Hydroplaning becomes a bigger issue. What about plain old dry conditions? Because that's a fairly common situation too. Avoidance on dry pavement with a salt coating. I'd tend, for most people, toward stock size to slightly narrower personally. If you're doing only cold, grippy snow, sure, go wider. But I don't know how often that is for most people.
 

Rug Wheeelie

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Went narrower and taller last year. Same model tire. definitely an improvement. 4x4 Sprinter.
 

oldschoolskier

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Narrower than standard (for a specific car) results in higher contact pressure, smaller contact patch (very good in rain). Wider tires results in larger patch, more floatation.

In snow and ice, it depends on conditions and what you are trying to achieve, enough pressure to grip and while not floating and sliding.

Good read in highway design manuals. Yawn.
 
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