Winter tires is essential
The answer to this is it depends on a couple of different factors, such as the climate that you live in. If you live in parts of California like LA, spending money on winter tires would be very difficult to justify as the winter is almost non-existent, whereas in some states such as North Dakota they could be a must-buy as the snowfall can be brutal.
Many people tend to overlook purchasing winter tires if their current set of summer or all-season tires has plenty of tread depth, but there is much more of a difference between the two tires than you might expect. Winter and summer tires are made from a different compound that helps improve performance in the right conditions. When the temperatures drop, each tire will naturally harden; however, winter tires are composed of a softer compound to help enhance grip in the cold weather. Summer tires fail in the winter and are dangerous as they become too hard to ‘bite’ into the snow to provide sufficient grip. Likewise, winter tires are not ideal for summer driving as the softer compound not only wears down more rapidly, the tread pattern is optimized for dealing with ice and snow, not for contact directly with the road.
When considering switching tires, you should keep in mind that tires need to be stored correctly – indoors away from water, racked up, or laid on their side. If you leave tires upright, they can warp over time. If you do opt for winter tires this season, ensure that you change all 4 tires, as mixing different sets will cause a big disparity in grip, making the car more unpredictable and more difficult to control, particularly on bends.
In my personal experience, I have relied on winter tires as when using a rear-wheel-drive car. Powerful cars in snowy conditions are dangerous and so in my use case, investing in winter tires is essential. Personally, I think low power and smaller cars benefit less as they are not particularly designed for high performance. If you don’t want winter tires, all season tires are a great compromise. They can provide safe levels of performance all year round, and can be a good choice for most drivers. Whatever you decide, ensure that the tires you choose have plenty of tread depth, and slow down in icy conditions.