The terms snow tires and winter tires are becoming intertwined. In fact most tire manufacturers now define tires made for handling in snow and ice as “winter” tires. Check out most consumer review surveys for tires (like Consumer Reports) and you’ll find snow tires under the “Winter” category.
One of the problems with older snow tire designs was the tires were square and bulky. This improved the tire’s ability to grip in snowy conditions but also made for a noisy drive and caused the tires to skate around during highway driving on dry pavement.
With technological advances, tire engineers started designing tires with optimal tread patterns for driving through snow. In addition, the development of more sophisticated rubber compounds resulted in winter tires that were quieter and reduced the unstable handling problems of older snow tires. To differentiate their new “premium” snow tires, tire companies began calling their upper-end snow tires, winter tires.