Winter tires vs summer tires vs all-season tires
We’ve talked before about the importance of getting quality tires of the right size when the tires on your current vehicle are up for replacement, but now that the seasons are changing we wanted to focus on a different question: do you need to put winter tires on your vehicle? Or for that matter, what’s the difference between summer tires and all-season tires? We’re going to look at winter tires vs summer tires vs all-season tires to see what actually separates these options.
Do you need to put winter tires on your vehicle?
Winter tires offer top handling in extreme winter conditions, like lots of ice and snow. They do this by remaining more flexible even when other rubber compounds would freeze in extreme cold; by having deeper tread patterns that add traction and reduce snow build-up; and by having many more ‘biting edges’ that add traction on ice and snow.
These are all great advantages when the weather is awful, but in the summer and fall they are a disadvantage. All the features that offer better traction in winter also cause the tire to wear out more quickly and create drag which could slow you down most of the year. If you live in a place with minimal snowfall, like Austin TX, you are probably just fine using all-season tires in all seasons.
What’s the difference between summer tires and all-season tires?
Even if you are sure you don’t need snow tires, you may be temped by summer tires vs all-season tires. Both offer distinct advantages. All-season tires are built for longevity and usability in many driving conditions. Whether it is wet, dry, or somewhat icy, all-season tires can offer comfortable, average driving.
So when should you opt for summer tires? These are oriented toward performance. If you have a car you are taking on a track (or a car you drive like you are taking it on a track), summer tires can offer the best cornering, braking, agility and road-holding. They also perform very well in wet driving conditions because of their groove design, but are not great at offering traction in the cold. Because of their rubber constitution and tread design they will also wear out more quickly.
Whether you have front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive, having the same kind of tire on all the wheels of your car will offer the best driving experience.