All-Season vs Winter Tires: How Do I Know Which I Need?
When you have all-season tires on your family car it becomes important to know how to tell whether and when to change to winter tires. This answer often depends on what the winter weather is like where you are currently living, or where you plan to go in your vehicle.
Most people find themselves wondering “why do I need winter tires if I have all-seasons?” The answer depends the temperatures and road conditions for your region. In Canada, where temperatures regularly drop below zero degrees Celsius, all-season tires provide a fraction of the grip of winter tires:
Why Do I Need Winter Tires?
It can be dangerous to drive in winter with tires that don’t grip properly. Your stopping distance will be increased while driving on highways or in the city, which can cause accidents that could have been prevented with winter snow tires.
An Accident can cause an increase in your insurance rates if you are at fault. When someone doesn’t invest in winter tires it can put everyone’s lives on the road in danger during the winter months.
How Do I Know When It’s Time to Change to Winter Tires
When it comes to timing the change of your all-season tires, the weatherman is your best friend. All-weather tires are different from winter tires, especially where the rubber is concerned:
Winter tires are designed using a softer rubber. This means they can handle lower temperatures and still grip the road effectively even when snow or ice are present. This is also the reason they shouldn’t be left on in other seasons. The softer rubber makes them lose tread faster in hotter temperatures. The rubber wears down much more easily.
The ideal time to change to winter tires is in the fall before the snow hits. You should change back to all-season tires in the spring.
Winter snow tires are different from all-season tires because of dramatic improvements in rubber manufacturing that include technology to adapt winter tires for weather conditions like snow or ice and for lower temperatures.
All Weather Tires vs All-Season Tires
All-season tires are made from tough rubber that can support vigorous treading for an all-season grip on various road surfaces. These all-season tires are not made with the winterizing, softening compounds of winter tires.
Without this softening compound, the tire treads need to be more prominent so the tread-cut can do the gripping that is lost to the tougher rubber compounds.
Every winter people ask “why do I need winter tires if I have all-seasons?” and the answer is always the same: Because winter tires provide greater safety and grip on roads with snow and ice on them.
All-season (aka all-weather) tires have been specially designed to be reliable in a wide variety of road and weather conditions – dry, slick, rainy, light snow, even hail – and they are capable of performing well in a variety of weather or road conditions, not just one.
What Kind of Weather Requires a Change To Winter Tires?
Winter tires were created for the best possible performance in all winter weather conditions. Any area in Canada that is not coastal, that gets regular snowfall, freezing ice on roadways, black ice and other dangerous below-freezing conditions is an area where you should always use good-quality winter tires.
The better the winter tire, the higher quality the rubber softening compound, and the more effective the tires will be at gripping the road regardless of how cold, snowy or icy it is. This enhanced ability to conform to the road causes additional traction and grip between the tires and the pavement. In colder weather, the all-season tires harden. This lessens the grip available.
All-season or summer tires use a different, harder rubber compound. Even though winter tires are perfect for the cold winter weather, when they are left on the car year-round they will end up costing you more because they wear out too quickly.
How Can I Tell If I already have Winter or All-Season Tires?
Winter tires are stamped on the sidewall with a snowflake and a mountain. All-seasons have a stamp showing M+S which means “mud and snow.”
If your winter temperatures anywhere in Canada are hovering above freezing during the winter very regularly – then you should invest in a set of winter tires. Finally you can stop asking yourself “why do I need winter tires if I have all-seasons?” Simply call us today to view our quality tire options.