The majority of cars roll off the assembly line with all season tires. Also called all weather tires, they offer a balance of capabilities and provide acceptable performance in both wet and dry conditions, as well as in cold weather and on snowy roads. Essentially, all season tires perform well in a wide range of situations and types of weather, but they aren’t specialized for any particular type of conditions.
Winter tires vs all season tires
Although the name all season tires understandably leads many drivers to believe that they are appropriate for both summer and winter driving, but that this is not really the case. In order to achieve moderate traction in ice and snow, all season tires sacrifice some wet weather traction. To provide long lasting tread life, all season tires sacrifice flexibility and grip in cold weather.
Although all season tires perform better in the snow and ice than summer tires do, they are still not designed for more extreme winter weather like very cold temperatures, black ice, or heavy snowfall. While winter tires are designed to remain flexible in subfreezing temperatures, all season tires will become stiff and less able to provide sufficient traction. They’re also not designed with the same deep tread patterns as winter tires that create increased traction and reduce snow buildup.
Summer tires versus all season tires
Summer tires are designed to provide traction in both dry weather and wet conditions. Summer tires feature wider tread and softer rubber compounds, allowing for responsive handling in dry and wet conditions. They also have deep grooves to provide wet traction and hydroplaning resistance. These features allow summer tires to perform better in wet and dry conditions than all season tires or winter tires.
Although all season tires perform reasonably well in warm weather, they produce less grip than summer tires, sacrificing some steering, braking, and cornering capabilities. This tradeoff is necessary for all season tires to be able to provide better performance than summer tires when it comes to light winter conditions and provide longer tread life.
Are all season tires right for your car?
All season tires are used on a wide variety of vehicles, from minivans, sedans, and economy cars to SUVs and pickup trucks. They have a sufficient blending on summer and winter tire features to provide the ride comfort, handling, and traction that the majority of drivers are looking for.
At the end of the day, it comes down to where you live and what conditions you’re frequently driving in. If you’re somewhere that experiences extreme winters with very cold temperatures and lots of snowfall, then it’s probably a good idea to purchase snow tires and think of your “all season” tires more as three season tires. They should perform adequately for you in the summer, spring, and fall, as long as the temperatures are above freezing.
If you are wondering which tire is right for your vehicle, talk to the experts at HEART Certified Auto Care, or bring your vehicle in to one of our three Chicago area locations in Evanston, Wilmette, or Northbrook.