All Season Tyres – a compromise:
As the name suggest, all season tyres are designed to be used in all seasons, they are different to winter or snow tyres. The main difference is the different tyre compound used, which react differently in different temperatures. An all season tyre is a trade off that incorporates characteristics found in winter tyres, and also characteristics found in summer tyres. Should you be driving in snow or extremely cold climates, then an all season tyre probably is not right for you. However, in the UK an all season tyre can work well and be an excellent compromise.
Winter Tyres – designed for a purpose:
A winter or snow tyre has a self cleaning tread design that effectively cleans itself of snow as it drives. This allows the tyre to keep better traction when in snow. A non-winter tyre is more likely to pack snow into the tread when driving. A winter tyre has a much softer rubber compound, which means in cold temperatures, the tread remains soft. As the temperature drops, a summer tyre, and to some degree an all season tyre, will become harder and as a result offer less grip. Due to the softer tread, a winter tyre will wear quicker and is not suitable for summer use.
Benefits – All Season Tyres:
All season tyres are useful if you drive in a range of conditions. Summer tyres are designed for use for temperatures 7 degrees and above. An all season tyre is designed to work well in warmer temperatures, but also in colder temperatures too.
Disadvantages – All Season Tyres:
Being a jack of all trades means an all season tyre is a compromise. So although you enjoy it’s range of benefits, it’s neither a high performance summer tyre or a strong winter tyre. Depending on your climate you may find an all season tyre is too hard for real winter driving, or too soft for summer driving. An all season tyre would be best suited to a climate where there is no extremes in temperatures, such as in the UK. Having said that the UK can have very cold winters, and also very warm summer days – so again it is a compromise on what you want.
Benefits – Winter Tyres:
A winter tyres is a master of one thing – driving in the snow and in wintery conditions. Should you demand the very highest level of safety and are driving in very cold conditions a winter tyre is ideal. It has the ability to flush out snow from it’s treads and remains soft in cold temperatures, where non-winter tyres would become hard and offer less grip. Winter tyres provide more grip and shorter braking distances in snow and cold temperatures.
Disadvantages – Winter Tyres:
Winter tyres are not suitable for summer driving. The softer tyre compound makes them wear much quicker than summer or all weather tyres.
Enjoying the best of both worlds…
Many people use winter tyres in the winter, and swap to summer or all season tyres in the summer. Although this may sound expensive, the only real additional cost is paying a garage to swap your tyres over, and of course having to store them. A garage will usually charge around £30-£60 to swap the tyres over, and if you have space in your garage storage is free. You will be benefiting from safer motoring and your summer tyres will not be worn either.
Learn more about the difference between winter and summer tyres: