All-season tires are pretty popular among car owners. Indeed, they perform almost equally well on a dry summer road as well as wet asphalt. You can use them even for winter driving. Most vehicles leave the factories with all-season tires, and many people keep on driving with them without even considering the purchase of special Winter tires for the cold season.
However, it is essential to understand that just like all versatile products, All-Season Tires inevitably compromise on specific features, which are most important for driving in extreme summer and winter conditions. That is why even though they might be perfect for so many drivers worldwide, All-Season tires won’t get you covered for the whole year once you live in the area where heavy snowfall and icy roads are typical for the winter season.
In this article, we shall talk about the benefits and possible pitfalls of both Winter and All-Season tires so you can make an informed decision and choose the proper setting for the upcoming season.
What is so special about Winter Tires?
Even the most experienced drivers sometimes get reluctant to drive in winter, especially when the road is covered with snow or ice.
Driving in the winter can be pretty dangerous as the car can lose traction, and even the slightest maneuvering can become challenging. In other words, the whole physics of the driving process may change due to lower adhesion between the tire and the road, and you can quickly lose control over the car.
The main advantage of winter tires that allows them to outperform the all-season ones is that they have a pretty complicated tread pattern, which significantly improves their adhesion and allows melted water to slip through the striations without getting between the tire and the road.
Winter tires are also made out of a soft rubber compound. It allows the pattern to squash through the snow, grip on it, and then toss it out as the tire rotates, preventing clogging of the pattern.
Also, most winter tires have a pretty defined texture, or the so-called closed-cell bubbles incorporated into the material. The road friction peels off the rubber’s upper layer as you drive, sharpening each cell’s edge. Eventually, you have thousands of tiny needles on each tire that grasp on the snow and even ice, improving your car’s traction and stopping power.
The main, and fairly only, downfall of winter tires is the price. Prepare to pay several hundred for a new set as even if your car is not 4×4, you will have to get the winter “footwear” for each wheel.
You should also plan storage arrangements for your winter tires in the summer. The rubber of such tires is pretty vulnerable to heat, and your expensive winter tires can get damaged beyond repair if you store them inappropriately. For the very same reason, you should never use winter tires in summer. Temperature over 45F (~7C) makes winter tires soft and vulnerable to damage.
What are the benefits of all-season tires?
You may understand from their very name that all-season tires are created to serve you in most weather conditions. Those tires perform great in moderate temperatures, wet roads, and even light snow.
Those tires are famous for their exceptional lifespan as most of them will efficiently serve you for up to 80,000 miles and can be replaced with as little as 2/32nds of an inch of tread left.
Another undeniable advantage of all-season tires is that they perform equally well on all kinds of terrains, from city asphalt rods to upstate paths.
However, it is essential to understand that if you live in an area where temperatures regularly go below 40F (~4C), your all-season tires may start crumbling and wear off pretty fast. Just like winter tires, they are sensitive to temperatures. All-season tires are made of a special “sticky” rubber that provides perfect traction on dry and wet roads. But once they get “cold,” the rubber may harden and start crumbling.
As you see, all-season tires are not for all seasons indeed. Once the temperatures go down, and snow covers the roads, driving a vehicle with inappropriate tires can be pretty dangerous. However, it does not mean that all drivers everywhere need to have two sets of tires and replace them as seasons change.
In case the average temperature does not go below 40F in your area, most probably, there won’t be any point for you to spend extra money on an additional set of tires. As soon as you get them checked and rotated regularly, all-season tires may be the perfect solution for you.
Contact OHS Body Shop to get qualified consultation from our professional mechanics. Our branches are located all over Montana’s Greater Flathead Valley, in Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Polson. We shall be happy to answer all your questions, perform a routine checkup or an urgent repair.