Winter Tires vs All Season Tires: Pros and Cons


Many of us become confused when were trying to decide on snow tires vs all season tires. It pays to educate yourself on the differences between the two types of tires because doing so will save you time, money and keep you safe from potential accidents. Many of use have jump starters and tire inflators incase of emergences so, we should also make sure we have the right tires.

If you live in an area that only gets minor snow flurries during the cold months then you’re probably safe sticking with all-season tires. Otherwise, its wise to invest in a good set of snow tires and even a set of wheels for them.

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Read below to find-out some excellent advice on the differences between the two types of tires.

What is an All Season Tire?

All-season tires are just that, tires that you can use to drive in all seasons. They don’t have the same compound in the rubber that winter tires do so they aren’t as good in cold and snowy conditions.

Modern all-season tires are made to provide all-around performance and can give a smooth, quiet ride while being fuel efficient at the same time.

Because these tires are made to deal with all types of weather conditions they wont offer you exceptional handling or driving capabilities.

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What is a Snow Tire?

A snow tire is made with a special compound added to the rubber so it stays pliable in cold temperatures under 7 Celsius or 45 Fahrenheit .

The pliancy of snow tires means the rubber is soft and will wear-out fast in non-winter conditions and won’t provide good handling either.

The tread is designed to channel snow and water out of the way with unidirectional v-grooves and small slits in the rubber provide grip on wet surfaces. 

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Snow Tires vs All Season Tires

Performance of Snow Tires vs All Season Tires

In anything but winter weather an all-season tire beats a snow tire in terms of performance and handling. They’re made for cold driving conditions and that’s it.

In warmer weather and clear roads the soft rubber of winter tires wears-out quickly and doesn’t actually provide good traction.

The same is true in warm but rainy conditions because the tread pattern is designed for cold snow and slush not rain and warm pavement.

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Traction of All Season Tires vs Snow Tires

A tire has something called sipes to help give traction on wet pavement. These are tiny cuts in the rubber tread and the more there are the better the traction you get. Snow tires are specially manufactured with these little cuts and they can make a big difference.

All performance tires are also made with sipes to help deal with rainy weather. It is important to bear in mind however that they won’t stop hydroplaning and a different form of tread is needed for that, one that snow tires aren’t made with.

When you change snow tires you have to remember that you need to change all four tires and not only two. The traction benefit will be lost and you may wind up in the ditch.

Snow tires will help you brake better on snowy roads. All-season tires will lock and cause you to lose control of your vehicle on snowy or icy roads.

It’s very important if you’re using all-season tires in the winter to remember to brake lightly and slowly to reduce the chance of fish tailing and causing an accident.

Driving at Speed

There is no comparison to snow tires vs all season tires for driving at speed.

Just because you have snow tires doesn’t mean you can drive fast. Snow tires aren’t made for speed but for better traction in wintery conditions.

You don’t want to take the risk getting into an accident.

All-season tires are made to handle driving at faster speeds than snow tires because they’re made for warmer weather. The tread on all-season tires is also made to provide better traction in rain than the tread on snow tires.

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Snow Tires vs All Season Tires and Tread Depth

It’s important to remember that snow tires need deeper tread than all-season tires to still perform the way they should. The tread depth on winter tires should not be less than 6/32”. Anything less than this and you won’t have acceptable traction on ice or snow.

Winter tires have additional tread wear indicator bars that will tell you when they’re worn down to 6/32” so you can easily tell when it’s time for a change.

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Tread Size of Snow Tires vs All Season Tires

It’s true that narrow tires go through snow easier than wide tread tires but you want to make sure you choose the correct size tire for the model of vehicle you have. Some people even recommend that you minus-size a snow tire to insure you keep on a straight path in snowy conditions. Minus-sizing a tire is choosing a size lesser than what’s normally used for the make and model f your vehicle.

All-season tires can be bigger and can have wider tread. It is actually helpful in many dry pavement situations to have a wider tire because there is more rubber to grip the surface of the road. This isn’t true when driving on sandy or loose gravel roads however because a wide tread tire can cause you to fish-tail or spin- out of control when you’re corning at high speeds.

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Storing Snow Tires

Here are a few tips for storing your snow tires that can help them last longer. Don’t set them tread side down or the tread may develop flat spots. Changing temperatures can cause the tires to age quicker so it’s best to store them in a dry and cool location.

Something most people don’t know is that ozone can damage rubber over periods of time.

To protect against this you should clean and wrap them and don’t place them near machines like welders that may produce ozone.

See More: Storage Tips Here

Hopefully this has helped you learn the difference between snow tires vs all season tires. A wise and knowledgeable purchase now will save you from grief in the future so make sure you buy the right tire for your environment.

Remember: that if you buy four sets of wheels to go with your now snow tires it will be much faster and easier to change them when the seasons change.

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