Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires
Driving on snow can be fun but it is dangerous too. The biggest question many drivers have is whether or not their car needs winter tires. Today, many cars are fitted with all-season tires and the question is do you need to swap the all-season tires with winter tires. We have compared winter tires and all-season tires that will help you get the answer to your question.
What Are All-Season Tires?
All-season tires are designed for performance and good tread life. These tires are good for a variety of road conditions like dry, wet and moderate snow. However, these tires are not suitable for extreme cold weather. The reason is that the tread rubber of all-season tires starts hardening below 45°F. According to tire experts, the all-season tire functions well only at warmer temperatures above 45°F. If you drive with all-season tires in subzero temperatures, they will act like a hardened plastic ball that just rolls on the ground with no traction performance. This can lead to dangerous situations on slippery roads covered with water and ice.
What Are Winter Tires?
Winter tires are also known as snow tires. Their tread rubber remains soft even at extremely cold temperatures which is important for grip on the road. According to experts, if you live in a region where the roads are covered with snow and icy cold water, your car needs winter tires.
Difference in Rubber Composition
All tires are made of rubber. However, there are other compounds that make tires different. For example, all-season tires are made of natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black, wire, fabric and some chemical compounds. On the other hand, winter tires have higher amounts of natural rubber and silica that keeps the rubber flexible even in extremely cold temperatures. It is the special rubber composition that makes winter tires perfect for snow and icy roads.
Difference in Tread Pattern
The tread pattern is the second most important thing in tires. All-season tires have an asymmetrical pattern. It means the tread pattern design on the inner and outer shoulder of the tire is different. The inner tread pattern is designed to expel water and provide aquaplaning protection. The outer tread pattern is designed for a higher grip during cornering. The channels that run across the circumference tire are deep to reduce rolling resistance and noise.
On the other hand, the tread pattern on winter tires is directional. The channels on winter tires are wider and prevent snow buildup and resist aquaplaning. The tread pattern of winter ties also has slits that divide the tread pattern into smaller areas. Some winter tires also have metal studs inserted. All these tread pattern characteristics help with increased traction performance and shorten braking distance.
Thus, you can see if you drive on snow and icy roads, winter tires are a must for your safety. If you live in a region with a moderate winter, you can continue with all-season tires.