Consumer Reports: Putting all-weather tires to the test

No matter what climate you live in, you're going to want reliable, long-lasting car tires to get through whatever Mother Nature throws your way. There is a new solution on the market: all-weather tires.

These use the latest engineering to achieve year-round performance, even in places that face tough winters, like Chicago. But are they as versatile as they claim, and are they worth your money?

Consumer Reports put them to the test so you don't have to spin your wheels.

If you're looking for a do-it-all tire which can take you from a snowstorm into a heat wave, all-weather tires might do the trick.

"These tires have specially engineered tread designs like this and enhanced rubber compounds which gives them traction in cold weather that rivals winter and snow tires and they perform well in milder conditions similar to all season tires," said Consumer Reports Auto Editor Jon Linkov.

Consumer Reports bought 630 this year to test 63 brands. Their tire experts conducted rigorous tests on common size tires in a slew of different conditions: dry and wet roads for braking and handling, comfort, and treadwear on snow to test traction and they even tried stopping on a skating rink to test grip.

So, what happened when the rubber hit the road? The top rated tire by Consumer Reports is the Michelin CrossClimate Plus for $171. Next, the Goodyear Assurance Weather Ready for $142.

"Some of these do cost more than traditional performance all-season tires, but you'll save money in the long run," Linkov said. "That's because you won't have swap them out twice a year as you do with winter tires."

And although tread life varies depending on road conditions, most all-weather tires have treadwear warranties of 45,000 miles or more. Consumer Reports also rated all-season tires, a good choice in less extreme winter climates with year round performance and recommends the General Altimax RT43 for $87 or the Michelin Defender T & H for $115. So, get some traction this winter, make sure you have tires that are right for you.

And Consumer Reports says don't forget to check your tire pressure during the colder months. Not only can under-inflated tires wear out faster, they can also be a safety risk.

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