Snow Tires vs. All Season Tires
If you are like me and you live and work in an area that gets a significant amount of snowfall each winter, I would strongly encourage you to consider putting actual snow tires on your rural mail carrier vehicle if possible. I always thought that a good all-season tire was all I needed to get me through the snow and ice on the mail route but after entering many ditches and getting stuck numerous times, I decided to take the plunge and purchase snow tires several years ago.
Wow! What a difference it made. I no longer found myself “white knuckling” the route for 6 hours worrying about if I was going to get stuck again. I found myself driving through the snow like a hot knife through butter and while I passed many other vehicles having issues navigating the rural mail carrier roads on my route, I was much more confident.
If you can afford it, the best way to go is to purchase an extra set of rims and have one set for the winter with your snow tires on them and one set for the rest of the year with your all-season tires. This makes it much easier to swap on/off if the weather changes quickly like it can here in Minnesota. You can always check with your local auto salvage yard to see if they have your size rims if you want to save some money.
Let me point out that even if you have a vehicle with 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, you will notice a significant improvement in your ability to drive safely in the winter with snow tires. I realize it’s an investment but when your safety is at stake, I think it’s a very wise investment.
There are a lot of good snow tires on the market for rural mail carriers. The two that I am most familiar with are the ones I’ve actually used on my mail route the past 5+ years. They would be the Cooper Discoverer M+S tire and the Toyo Observe GSi-5 Winter Performance Studless tire.
The Cooper Discoverer M+S tires worked great on my Ford Escape and are the best tires I’ve ever owned. Unfortunately I was not able to find them in my size for my Toyota Highlander and ended up buying a set of the Toyo Observe GSi-5 studless winter tires. Luckily we have not had a ton of snow here yet this winter but on the few snow storms we have had, the Toyo tires have performed well. As with any tire, if there is a significant amount of ice on the roads, nothing is going to be 100% effective unless you have chains or studs in your tires but that’s not legal here in Minnesota. Check with your state guidelines about that where you live.