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Mar 7, 2016

All-Weather Tires Vs. Winter Tires: What Do You Need?

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One question that drivers who live in climates with stark seasonal changes inevitably have to ask themselves is: all-weather or winter tires? Why do I need winter tires if I already have all-weather tires on my vehicle? The answer has to do with road conditions. A large number of vehicles already come equipped with all-weather tires when they leave the factory, but the key difference between the two is specialization. The following are some things you should know about all-weather and winter tires:

All-Weather Vs. Winter Tires

Being outfitted for summer and winter does not mean that a tire is perfectly suited to each season. All-weather tires are meant to provide versatile handling in a range of road conditions. Unfortunately, in order to do this, they end up having to make some performance compromises where specialization is concerned.

All-weather tires are not meant for heavy snowfall. All weather tires are designed for milder winter conditions with heavy rain, the type of conditions you might see in places like the Pacific Northwest. They are capable of handling some snowfall, but preferably snow that melts quickly and does not compact. Winter tires are designed to be able to navigate and maintain traction in heavy snow.

Tread pattern matters. Winter tires are designed with aggressive tread patterning and siping which is meant to grip the snow while expelling water and slush that would cause summer tires to slip and spin. All-weather tires are designed to do the same, to a degree, but are not especially designed to do only that.

They need to be able to provide more sensitive handling in warmer conditions and rubber compounds which can stand up to the heat of roads and highways in the warmer summer months. Winter tires, in addition to having more appropriate tread patterning for gripping the snow, have much deeper tread patterning which helps to reduce snow build-up, thereby improving traction.

Which tires are right for you ultimately depends on the road condition where you live. If you live in a region where snow flurries and black ice are one-off occurrences each winter, then going with an all-weather tire will probably be sufficient. If, however, the roads you travel in the winter are constantly the epitome of extreme weather conditions with regular heavy snow, dangerous icy conditions and prone to impromptu snowstorms which catch people by surprise, specially designed snow tires which are made to handle exactly those conditions are a much safer bet.

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