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Summer Tire Vs. All Season: Overview
For most drivers, all-season tires and summer tires mean the same thing. But, this is not the case. While both types of tires can handle a wide range of conditions and terrains, each type of tire is designed to serve a certain function.
Furthermore, each type of tire will affect your driving experience in its own way, in terms of handling, safety and performance. So, if you are shopping for tires, it’s worth knowing the difference between these two types of tires and their applications.
Fortunately, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. This article will help you to understand the differences between these two types of tires, when to use them, where to use them as well as each tire’s strengths and drawbacks.
About Summer Tires
Also known as performance tires, summer tires are specifically designed for warm weather conditions. They come with a stickier tread compound, which helps them to deliver outstanding traction and grip on the pavement.
Furthermore, their tread design features lesser siping and grooving than conventional tires, thus increasing the surface area of the tire in contact with the road. And this translates to more grip.
Also, summer tires feature stiff sidewalls. These sidewalls help the tire to deliver better cornering than all-season tires.
Summer tires also come with a higher speed rating than all-season tires. Therefore, they can deliver a safer, smoother ride, even at highway speeds and beyond. And this explains why people who drive sports cars and performance sedans love these tires.
Summer Tires Pros
If you are the type of driver who loves pushing their vehicle to its limits, then summer tires may be your best choice. Here are some of the key benefits of equipping your vehicle with summer tires.
One of the main benefits of outfitting your vehicle with a set of summer tires is that they deliver outstanding performances in numerous driving conditions. These tires are specifically optimized to deliver top-notch handling, outstanding steering response as well as exceptional high-speed stability.
Most drivers choose these tires over all-season tires because they deliver a smoother ride on road trips. If you own a sports car or a performance sedan, you will notice the difference between using a set of all-season tires and summer tires. In this regard, all-season tires will make the driving experience fun and thrilling.
As much as summer tires are designed for warm weather conditions, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them anywhere else.
If you happen to encounter rainy conditions, these tires will deliver adequate traction and reliable handling, resulting in safe ride.
High Heat Tolerance
Summer tires also have a higher heat tolerance than all-season tires. Tires heat up quite fast during the hot summer days. And overheating is one of the leading causes of tire failure during these months.
Fortunately, summer tires are equipped with a rubber compound that has a high heat tolerance. So, whenever you are driving with these tires during these conditions, the chances of tire failure due to overheating are lower, compared to all-season tires.
Summer Tires Cons
Without a doubt, summer tires have plenty to offer to both serious car enthusiasts and the average driver. But like everything else, summer tires also come with some drawbacks. After all, nothing is perfect. So, what are the drawbacks of summer tires?
One of the biggest drawbacks of summer tires is that they have a shorter lifespan, compared to all-season tires.
On average, summer tires will last approximately 35,000 to 40,000 miles. All-season tires, on the other hand, can last approximately 60,000 miles or even more.
In fact, some all-season tires like the Michelin Defender and the Pirelli P4 Four Seasons come with a 90,000-mile treadwear warranty. An indication that you can get almost double the mileage, compared to most summer tires.
So, if your vehicle uses summer tires, there’s a high chance you will be spending more on tires, compared to someone who drives on all-season tires.
Poor Traction in Cold Weather
Another drawback of summer tires is their poor traction in cold weather conditions. According to a performance test conducted by Tire Rack, a car outfitted with summer tires and running at a speed of approximately 10mph, took approximately 47 feet to stop.
On the other hand, a car outfitted with winter tires took around 21 feet to stop, which is well below half the distance.
Hence, if you frequently encounter ice-covered roads or your area experiences heavy snowing during the winter months, then it will not be safe to use summer tires.
About All-Season Tires
As their name suggests, all-season tires are designed to handle a wide range of conditions. Their rubber’s chemical composition is structurally different from season tires.
Besides being designed for all-year use, all-season tires also deliver a comfortable, smooth and quiet ride. But again, they are mainly built to be used on paved roads and surfaces.
So, if you are the type of driver that alternates between on-road and off-road driving, then all-season tires may not be the ideal choice. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this tire.
All-Season Tires Pros
As noted above, all-season tires are built to perform well in almost all weather conditions.
So, if you live in an area that experiences moderate winters and summers, then you can easily get by with a set of all-season tires. Here are some of the benefits of outfitting your vehicle with all-season tires.
Most new cars come with a set of all-season tires. And there’s a reason for this. These tires can perform well in almost all weather conditions.
Whether you are driving on dry pavement, rainy conditions, snowy conditions or ice-covered roads, a set of all-season tires will be more than enough.
Thanks to their unmatched versatility, all-season tires can suit the needs of almost any driver out there.
All-season tires are more cost-effective compared to winter tires or summer tires. If you are using seasonal tires, you will need to have the professionally swapped whenever a new season rolls in. And this costs money.
But with all-season tires, you don’t have to spend money swapping them every time a new season comes in, since you can use them the entire year.
At the same time, if you alternate between winter and summer tires, you will need to store one set properly when it’s not in use.
And if you don’t have somewhere to store them properly, you will have to pay your mechanic a fee to store them properly for you. Again, you will not incur such expenses if you are using all-season tires.
Unlike summer tires or winter tires, all-season tires will remain on your vehicle the entire year.
And this translates to lesser time spent at the auto repair shop for tire changes. Consequently, this will also be a considerable convenience for most people, especially if you have a busy work schedule.
All-Season Tires Cons
All-season tires may appear like the perfect tire choice for most drivers. But, this is not entirely the case. Like other types of tires, all-season tires also have a few drawbacks. They include:
Poor Traction in Extreme Snowy Conditions
If you live in an area that experiences extreme snowy conditions, then your set of all-season tires will be almost useless.
All-season tires come with shallow treads. And while they may deliver a comfortable and smooth ride, these shallow treads will prove to be an issue when you encounter deep snow. Simply put, all-season tires are poor performers in deep snow.
Average Response and Handling
All-season tires tend to be less grippy, compared to summer tires. Also, they are built to be versatile and adapt to various road surfaces.
Their flexible nature and reduction in grip makes them to be less responsive, compared to their specialized counterparts.
For instance, if you are using a set of summer tires, you will notice that it’s steering response and cornering performance will be better, compared to all-season tires.
Should You Buy Summer Tires or All-Season Tires?
All-season tires may appear like the better choice for most people, since you can use them all-year round. On the other hand, if you are looking for a specialized tire that can enhance your vehicle’s performance, then you should opt for summer tires. Ultimately, your decision should be informed by the type of vehicle that you drive, where you live, as well as your lifestyle.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding