Fall is the best time to shop for winter tires

Fall has arrived and already the snow is falling in some parts, but it won't be long before the roads become slippery all across the northern snow belt. Retailers are already stocking-up on this year's allotment of winter tires. Now is the time to start shopping.

Most consumers don't think about winter tire purchases until the first big snow storm hits and then they are in a panic-buy mode. That means fighting crowds at retailers in hopes of finding a winter tire in-stock that comes in the size to fit your car. Shopping in the fall can alleviate some of the anxiety. At least then, if the retailer does not have the model you want in the size you need, chances are it can order it and have it installed at your convenience in time for winter.

Waiting too long carries real risks, as the winter tires are typically manufactured the previous summer, meaning inventory is finite.

See our ratings and buying advice for winter, performance winter, and winter truck tires, as well as performance all-season, ultra-high-performance all-season, and truck all-season tires.

More From Consumer Reports

Not everyone needs a winter tire, but fall is still a good time to check the rubber on your car. A good set of all-season tires will get many consumers through moderate winter conditions, but if your tires are well worn, you may want to get a new set for optimum grip on wet, slushy, and snow covered roads.

Undecided about all-season or winter tires? If you can't wait for roads to be cleared of snow and ice to head to work or elsewhere, then winter tires are your top choice for sure-footed grip to drive, corner, and most importantly to stop on slick roads.

See our complete tire buying guide.

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