All-season tires, winter tires or all-weather tires?
For many years there has been a debate whether all-season tires are just as good as winter tires. Many years ago we used to call the winter tire the snow tire. Most tire companies fail to offer a snow tire any longer. The winter season not only brings snow and ice, but also cold temperatures. Hence the name winter tire from snow tire. The tire companies decided to develop a tire that will work on snow, ice and also on clear pavement, when the temperature drops. To identify a true winter tire, it will have a 3 point mountain with a snowflake in the middle of it imprinted on the sidewall.
Production of tires became more sophisticated over recent years so the old snow tire was replaced by the winter tire. The difference was chemistry and a tread designed to grip both snow and ice and still remain flexible in cold weather conditions. The older winter tire from my youth was such a soft rubber compound that if you left those tires on your vehicle well past spring, the tread would wear off very quickly. I remember my dad removing his winter tires as soon as the temperatures increased regularly.
The tire companies have also developed a new tire referred to as an “all-weather” tire. This have a tread pattern similar to that of a winter tire, but durable enough to last the entire year, even when the temperature rises. The all-weather tire has a compound that remains flexible in extreme cold with one that does not become too soft in warm weather. The question to ask is, are all-weather tires the best tires to have on your vehicle year round?
Winter tires are actually the best tire to have on your vehicle when the temperature drops to 7° Celsius. The fact remains, the all-season tires aren’t as good when the temperature drops compared to winter tires. All-season tires become very stiff or hard when the temperature drops. Perhaps they should be called “3 season tires”?
The rubber compound from winter tires is softer and the tread design allows you to grip the road better. It will allow you to stop quicker on snowy and icy road conditions as well as in cold weather. It will also give you better traction to also move your vehicle out of the way to avoid collisions. You don’t have to have snow to benefit from winter tires. To know if the tire you’re looking for is rated well to handle the winter season, they’ll get the winter snowflake pictograph on the sidewall. It is an outline of a mountain with a snowflake.
As far as the new all-weather tire, they would be good for those drivers who wish not to change tires from all season to winter. All-weather tires are a compromise, kind of like the “jack-of-all-trades” tire. They too have the 3 point mountain with a snowflake in the middle of it imprinted on the sidewall. They are better than all-season tires in the winter, but not as good as summer or all-season tires in the summer. The choice really goes to the consumer. Decide is it cost or safety you’re looking for. As you think about it, I’ll enjoy driving around safely on my winter tires during this cold winter season.