Winter Tire vs. All-Season Overview
Most vehicles leave the factory with all-season tires. The reason behind this is that all-season tires can handle a wide range of weather conditions and terrains. Also, they are renowned for their quiet, smooth and comfortable ride, making them the ideal choice for the everyday driver. Simply put, they combine the features of a summer and winter tire.
With that in mind, some people tend to assume that all-season tires are the perfect choice for all weather conditions, including snowy roads. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. While all-season tires can perform well in many conditions, they tend to struggle when it comes to heavy snow or ice-covered roads.
And this is where winter tires come in. Also known as snow tires, winter tires are specifically engineered to handle snowy conditions and ice-covered roads. So, if you live in an area that snows frequently or experiences prolonged winters, then winter tires are the best choice. Let’s take a closer look at how these two types of tires compare.
About Winter Tires
As their name suggests, winter tires are engineered to handle the challenging conditions of extreme winter weather. They feature a softer rubber compound, specialized tread design as well as additional biting edges to deliver adequate grip and traction on snow-covered and ice-covered roads.
Winter Tires Pros
As noted above, winter tires or snow tires are the ideal choice for people who live in areas that experience extreme wintry conditions. Some of the benefits of swapping your all-season tires with winter tires include:
When you are driving through snow or ice with ordinary tires, you will struggle to maintain proper control of your vehicle due to loss of grip. Fortunately, winter tires are specifically built to solve this problem.
With winter tires, you will not experience any loss of grip or traction when driving on ice-covered or snow-covered roads. They will deliver adequate grip needed to provide a safe and reliable ride.
Snow tires come with deep grooves and large tread blocks, which help to cut through snow and ice. Also, their tread blocks help to eject the snow, thus making sure it doesn’t get stuck in between, which may lead to reduced traction.
Furthermore, winter tires also feature a softer rubber compound. Unlike all-season tires’ tread compound that hardens in freezing temperatures, winter tires’ tread compound will remain pliable, thus enabling the tire to deliver adequate traction and grip.
Superior Braking Abilities
Driving when driving on snow or ice can be a challenge, especially if you are using a set of all-season tires. But with winter tires, such issues are non-existent.
Winter tires come with superior braking abilities in snow and ice. Their braking distances are almost half of most all-season tires. And with such superior braking abilities, you are assured of a safe and reliable ride.
Winter Tires Cons
Without a doubt, winter tires are outstanding performers when it comes to ice-covered roads and snowy conditions. However, they also come with some drawbacks such as:
While snow tires may deliver excellent grip and braking, their handling is poor compared to all-season tires.
When you are driving with these tires, you will notice their steering is not as responsive as using all-season tires. Hence, whenever you are using these tires, you need to be more careful with your driving.
As noted earlier, winter tires come with softer rubber compared to all-season tires. The softer rubber compound is designed to keep them flexible, even in freezing temperatures.
However, this softer rubber compound also means they will wear out faster when you compare them to all-season tires.
So, it will be highly advisable to switch back to your set of all-season tires immediately after winter is over.
Shorter Mileage Warranties
Most winter tires come with shorter mileage warranties compared to their all-season counterparts.
In fact, some winter tires don’t come with any mileage warranty at all. According to tire manufacturers, winter tires come with special rubber compounds, which wear out faster than that present on all-season tires.
As a result, most manufacturers opt not to offer mileage warranties. And as for those that offer, the warranty is usually half that offered for all-season tires.
Poor Ride Quality
Winter tires come with large tread blocks and deep grooves. And as highlighted earlier, these features are designed to provide adequate grip and traction in snowy conditions.
On the other hand, these features will also result in poor ride quality. When using winter tires in fair weather conditions, you will notice some vibrations or road noise, making the ride uncomfortable.
About All-Season Tires
All-season tires will deliver reliable performances in a wide range of driving conditions. They can handle colder temperatures and warmer temperatures, making them the ideal choice for most people.
On the other hand, all-season tires come with a shallower tread design compared to winter tires. Hence, they may prove to be an issue when driving in snowy conditions. So, if you spend most of your time driving on snow-covered or ice-covered roads, all-season tires may not be the best.
All-Season Tires Pros
If you live in an area that experiences moderate winters, then a set of all-season tires may be enough to do the job. Here are some of the benefits of all-season tires.
One of the key benefits of all-season tires is their outstanding versatility. These tires can handle a wide range of weather conditions.
Whether you encounter rainy conditions, moderate snow or dry roads, these tires will take you safely to your destination.
So, if you live in an area that experiences unpredictable weather, a set of all-season tires will be ideal for your situation.
No Changing Tires
As noted above, the key advantage of all-season tires over winter tires is that you can use them in almost any weather condition.
Therefore, you don’t need to change them as the season changes, thus saving you a considerable amount of time and even money.
It’s also worth mentioning that winter tires require proper storage. And most people don’t have such facilities at home. Therefore, they are forced to pay local tire dealers for storage. But with all-season tires, you don’t have to worry about such issues.
Quiet and Comfortable Rides
All-season tires come with shallower treads compared to winter tires. As a result, they provide a smooth, quiet and comfortable ride.
Compared to other tires, all-season tires are the most comfortable. And this makes them the preferred choice for most drivers.
All-Season Tires Cons
All-season tires are among the most popular tires on the market today. But, it doesn’t mean they are ideal for everyone. Furthermore, they also come with a couple of drawbacks, which may prove to be a deal-breaker for some drivers.
Poor Traction in Ice and Snow
If you frequently drive in areas that experience heavy snowing or you do a lot of driving on icy roads, then all-season tires will disappoint.
They come with a shallower tread pattern, meaning they lack adequate biting edges to deliver the required level of traction and grip in snowy conditions and icy roads.
An all-season tire is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. While they can perform well in a wide range of conditions, the performance is average, at best.
For instance, if you own a sports car, you will notice a considerable difference when using all-season tires compared to summer tires.
With summer performance tires, you will enjoy better handling, as well as outstanding cornering, faster steering response.
Winter Tire vs. All-Season Tire: Which Should You Buy?
So, between a winter tire and an all-season tire, which one should you purchase? Well, your buying decision will mainly depend on where you live. If you live in an area that experiences mild snow and ice, then you will just be fine with a set of all-season tires. On the other hand, if your area experiences freezing temperatures and severe snowing, then it will be highly advisable to equip your vehicle with dedicated winter tires.
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