Are winter tires worth the expense?

Tires that are equipped to drive in all types of weather are often labeled with a picture like this one.

It may be 60 degrees and sunny now, but it won't be long before the heartland is covered in snow. Which means, like it or not, it may be time to think about snow, ice and how you'll get around in it.

Some drivers buy a specific set of tires for the winter months, but is it with the investment? And with many cars equipped with all-season tires, do manufacturers still make them?

"The general consensus is yes, they're a good investment," said Brian Starnes of Fesler Auto Mall in Fairfield. "They significantly reduce breaking times and the ability for a car to stay on path in snow and winter conditions. We don't see as many snow tires any more now that most of our manufacturers know from the fact that they come with an all-season tire, which is a nice mix between summer and winter tread. We still do have a decent amount of people that come in and keep an extra set of tires just for winter months, from November to February tends to be our worst driving conditions here in Iowa."

There are no major advantages or disadvantages from brand to brand, but there are different types of snow tires, all the way up to a studded tire that has metal treads for optimum traction. And while it's obvious that a summer tire won't drive as well in the winter, can you drive on a winter tire in the summer months?

"Some people leave a more aggressive tread, a snow tire, on year-round, not necessary, it's not doing you really any good in the summer months," Starnes said. "But our customers that do use snow tires typically put them on about this time of year, this is when we see them get their tires and rims switched around. And then come springtime, when the last of the snow's gone, they take them off and stick them in the corner of the garage and go back to their all-season or their summer tires."

Starnes said Fesler's has seen several tire changes already this season and you can either change them yourself or bring them to a dealership to have it changed for you.

If you're not sure if your tires are winter tires, look for a winter symbol stamped on the tire, like a snowflake, or simply, a branding that says "all season".