Deciding whether to use all season or winter tires is a question that has been asked for decades. There is no one easy answer that makes choosing the right option at tire stores any simpler. The choice depends on conditions in the area and driving preferences. Factors such as maintenance and ownership cost can also make a difference. Drivers who are trying to decide between all season or winter tires will want to consider the pros and cons of each option.
All Season Tire Pros
One of the main advantages of an all season tire is that the material is designed for use in a variety of different weather conditions. The tread is shaped so that the tire can handle a wide range of different road conditions from hot summer roads to wet spring roads. People who live in mild climates that do not have intense winter weather can leave an all season tire on the car throughout the year. The tread on the tire will wear down slowly and last for a longer time. One final advantage is that an all season tire is generally less expensive and available in more styles than a winter tire.
All Season Tire Cons
The largest disadvantage of an all season tire is that the performance tends to be average when compared to a tire specifically designed for certain road conditions. An all season tire cannot compete with cheap tires designed for winter when driving in cold or freezing conditions. The tire material becomes harder in cold weather leading to less traction in snow and ice. An all season tire can actually result in a fishtail or skidding in the snow. They do have difficulty handling inclines when temperatures fall below freezing.
Winter Tire Pros
Winter tires are made from a special material that becomes pliable and somewhat soft in cold temperatures. This flexibility allows a winter tire to grip the roads firmly when driving in ice and snow during the winter. This is true even for cheap tires designed for winter use. The treads on a winter tire are designed to channel snow and ice behind and away from the vehicle as the wheel turns. This can increase safety by clearing away snow and providing better handling. A winter tire can also be studded for added safety when traveling across icy inclines. The studs dig into ice and pack snow.
Winter Tire Cons
The clearest drawback of a winter tire is the reduced performance in warm weather. This means they need to be removed and stored like used tires outside of the winter months. This extra maintenance can increase the cost of ownership. A winter tire can potentially perform poorly when it comes to handling and breaking if the temperature becomes warm for several days in a row. Winter wheels often generate noise on paved roads. This noise can become very loud and distracting at high speeds. One final disadvantage is that winter wheels can lower fuel efficiency because of the increased surface area coming into contact with the road.