Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires

Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires

One of the biggest questions faced by car owners during the winter season is whether they really need winter tires or not. Most cars are fitted with all-season tires that are perfect for a warmer climate. However, things are different when temperatures fall below 45°F. We have compared winter tires and all-season tires to help you make the right decision.

What is Special About Winter Tires?

Also known as snow tires, winter tires have a special rubber composition that makes them perfect for subzero temperatures. All-season tires stop performing well below 45°F. Their tread rubber hardens and the tires fail to grip the surface. Driving your car with all-season tires on icy roads is like a hard plastic ball rolling on an icy road with no grip on the surface. On the other hand, winter tires have a special rubber composition that contains a higher percentage of natural rubber and silica. This means even if the temperatures fall below zero, the rubber will stay soft and will maintain better traction on icy roads.

What is Special About All-season Tires?

All-season tires are specifically designed to offer acceptable performance in dry and wet conditions. Unlike winter tires, they have a general rubber composition that provides longer tread life than winter tires in a warmer climate. All-season tires are offered in various sizes and load capacities. They can be fitted in a variety of vehicles like sedans, pickups, minivans and economy cars.

Some of the special features of all-season tires are that they provide good ride comfort, have less rolling resistance and offer good handling performance. All-season tires can provide acceptable traction performance in light winter conditions. However, they are not the best tire in extreme winter conditions.

The Difference in Tread Design

All-season tires have an asymmetrical tread pattern where the tread pattern is different on the inner and outer shoulder of the tire. Each side of the tread serves a different purpose. For example, the inner tread pattern is responsible for expelling water and aquaplaning protection. The rigid outer tread blocks offer higher lateral stiffness that provide better grip while cornering and driving on dry roads. Also, the even stiffness of the tread pattern reduces noise.

Winter tires have directional tread patterns that are faster in water displacement. The tread design of winter tires can handle unimpeded water flow and provide good aquaplaning protection. The directional tread pattern is perfectly suited for snow and mud covered wet roads. The tread design of winter tires also features small slits that break the tread surface into smaller areas that improve traction performance. Some winter tires also have metal studs in the tread design that help with better grip of the snow laden road. The channels in winter tires are wider in comparison to all-season tires. The result is that snow and slush are easily expelled through the tread quickly to improve traction.

The comparison shows a clear verdict that winter tires are unmatched when it comes to extreme cold weather conditions. If you live in a region where temperatures fall below zero, your car will do much better with winter tires.