Summer vs all-season tires…Is there even a difference between the two? And if there is, which do you need to guarantee your vehicle gets top performance, great fuel mileage, and the best return on your tire investment?
Summer tires and all-season tires are not the same. Each has a different purpose and meets a specific need. The best tire for your vehicle really depends on what you want from your tire, how you use it, and where you live.
What is an All-Season Tire?
An all-season tire offers drivers good performance in the wet and dry conditions of summer and reasonable traction in light winter snows. It features a rubber compound designed to provide longer tread life and deeper treads than summer tires. All-season tires are made for a wide range of vehicles from economy cars to pickup trucks.
They work fine for what could be termed “standard daily use.” You wouldn’t put them on a sports car and wouldn’t want to rely on them in extreme winter conditions. What constitutes an extreme winter? For a vehicle, that would be snowy, icy winters where temperatures fall below 44 degrees Fahrenheit and remains below it for extended periods. The rubber compound that gives all-season tires an extended life gets hard in those conditions, reducing grip and increasing the time needed for braking.
All-season tires don’t offer the same handling or traction as warm weather. The tread design that gives them an ability to handle light winter conditions reduces their ability to move water from underneath the tire. The rubber used to lengthen tread life also reduces traction compared to summer tires.
What is a Summer Tire?
Summer tires are also called performance tires and they improve a vehicle’s performance in warm weather, but are especially ideal for high-performance or sports vehicles. They have shallower treads, fewer grooves and tread patterns (Learn more about the different tread patterns) designed to move water from underneath the tire to maintain contact with the road. This improves handling in wet conditions and increases the vehicle’s ability to resist hydroplaning.
The rubber compounds used to make summer tires also allow for greater flexibility, improving traction. While this makes them ideal for driving in dry and wet weather, it makes them a poor choice for winter weather. The all-season tire outperforms a summer tire in cold weather, ice, and snow.
Benefits of Summer Tires
Drivers benefit from summer tires if they want better handling and improved vehicle performance and if they use snow tires in the winter. They complement the winter tires well by providing ideal performance in warm weather, while the snow tires deliver solid performance in winter weather. Drivers who use summer tires also enjoy:
Faster, more secure braking
The best performance in wet conditions
Increased safety as a result of better traction
Benefits of All-Season Tires
Drivers who use all-season tires get performance capabilities in all conditions, longer tread and tire life than summer or winter tires, and a quieter ride. They work well for drivers who don’t need high performance and don’t experience winter conditions for months at a time. Drivers using all-season tires enjoy:
Acceptable performance in summer and winter
Greater tire life for the investment
No need to swap tires when winter arrives
Good handling and a comfortable ride
Choosing Between All Season & Summer Tires for Your Vehicle
So, which is the best tire for you? It all depends on the performance you desire from your vehicle. If you live in a temperate climate with some winter, don’t need exceptional handling and want to avoid the hassle of changing tires every year, all-season tires may be right for you. If you live in a consistently warm climate with little or no winter, or climate with a long, snowy winter that demands winter tires, summer tires may be ideal for the improved responsiveness, faster braking, and overall better vehicle performance they deliver during the warm season.
Whether you choose all-season or summer tires, make sure the tires you choose meet the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications including load capacity, size, and any other specs they have.
Learn more about which type of tire is best for you, right here.