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Winter Tires vs all Season Tires

Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires

When it comes to tires, there is no debate more common than winter tires vs. all-season tires


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In the all-season tire camp, you’ll have people claiming that all-season tires are more convenient, cost-effective, and ultimately get the job done. And in the winter tire camp, you’ll hear people arguing that winter tires are far safer and more effective in winter conditions than all-season tires will ever be. While both sides of the debate raise some great points, we want to get to the bottom of this age-old conundrum. Below, we’re going to break down what winter tires are, what all-season tires are, how they differ, and why they should only be used in the conditions they were designed for. In the end, we hope to provide you with some clarity on whether winter tires are worth the investment.

What are Winter Tires?

Winter tires, sometimes referred to as snow tires, are tires specifically designed for use in snow and ice. They feature a unique tread design that includes biting edges, high sipe densities (these look like tiny slits on the tire), wide, blocky treads, and a soft rubber compound. The biting edges and sipes allow this tire to provide exceptional traction on slush, ice, or snow-covered surfaces. Meanwhile, the wide, blocky tread pattern that contains larger gaps is used to channel snow and slush and expel water. Finally, the soft rubber that winter tires are made of ensures that the tire maintains flexibility, and thus stability, in sub-zero temperatures. Overall, winter tires offer unparalleled performance in harsh winter conditions. Superior traction, grip, handling, steering, and cornering are what you get with winter tires. Generally speaking, if you live in a place where temperatures dip below 0 degrees Celsius for months on end and snow, ice, and slush are par for the course, then investing in winter tires is highly recommended.

What are All-Season Tires?

All-season tires, as the name implies, are tires designed to perform in all four seasons. They are a hybrid tire, combining certain features of summer and winter tires enabling them to perform adequately in a range of wet and dry conditions. All-season tires typically feature a fine tread pattern that is smooth and straight, as well as a hard tread compound. The fine tread provides a quiet and comfortable ride on hot, dry asphalt in the summer, but also works to excavate water on rainy days. All-season tires are best suited to temperatures of 7 degrees Celsius and above, which has led some manufacturers to start marketing them as three-season tires rather than all-season tires. In certain parts of the world, and even certain parts of Canada like southwestern BC that experience mild winters, all-season tires might live up to their name. But in most other parts of Canada where freezing temperatures and regular snowfall are the norm between November and March, all-season tires are typically not the superior choice. That said, some all-season tires are 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake certified, a designation earned only when the tire performs successfully in extreme snow conditions. Thus, if you live somewhere with harsh winters but can mostly get away with driving on plowed roads, then finding a set of quality, 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake certified all-season tires might be enough.

Why You Shouldn’t Use All-Season Tires in Winter and Vice Versa

As you’re now aware, all-season tires and winter tires are not interchangeable. They have different tread features and unique capabilities. As such, they should be used in the conditions they were designed for. Now, we’re going to segue into a discussion on why all-season tires shouldn’t be used in the winter and why winter tires shouldn’t be used in the warmer months. There are two main reasons why these tires should not be used in conditions they were not meant for. The first is safety and the second is wear. When it comes to safety, the design features of all-season tires are such that they become a liability in winter. The hard tread compound doesn’t provide the flexibility needed to drive in sub-zero temperatures. This will make driving far less stable and can significantly reduce your braking, accelerating, and cornering abilities. Plus, the fine, smooth tread of all-season tires works well in rainy conditions, but doesn’t have the necessary grip to drive on snowy or icy roads, vastly increasing your chances of hydroplaning should you drive in such conditions. On the flip side, the densely-siped, blocky tread design of winter tires that allows them to grip snow in winter will result in less precise steering and handling in summer weather. Winter tires also have a higher rolling resistance than all-season or summer tires, which is a benefit in winter but a detriment in summer, as it makes for a noisier ride and higher fuel consumption. Finally, the hard rubber compound of all-season tires will wear much quicker when used improperly in cold temperatures, just as the soft tread compound of winter tires is far too soft for hot, dry asphalt, leading it to degrade faster. Overall, all-season tires are not suited to true winter conditions, while winter tires are not suited to warmer spring and summer conditions. As a rule of thumb, all-season tires should be driven in temperatures of 7 degrees Celsius and above, while winter tires should be used in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius.

Choose Winter Tires and All-Season Tires at Tire Warehouse

As the premier tire provider in Canada, Tire Warehouse is proud to offer an extensive inventory of winter and all-season tires. We have partnered with some of the biggest brands in the world so that our customers can have the widest possible selection of tires to choose from. Michelin, Bridgestone, Firestone, Toyo, Dick Cepek, Radar, and GT Radial are just a few of the reputable tire brands we offer. With our impressive inventory, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect tires to suit your vehicle. Plus, Tire Warehouse offers fast delivery and shipping anywhere in Canada for just $5 per tire. Even better, we have a mobile installation service where an automotive professional will install and balance your new tires on the spot. Choose Tire Warehouse for your winter or all-season tires, and we promise you won’t be disappointed. Contact us today to speak to a tire expert and learn more about our offerings. Read some tires FAQ here

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