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The Difference Between All Season Tires vs All Weather Tires vs Winter Tires

Let's discuss the difference between all season tires vs all weather tires vs winter tires so you can decide on the best tire choice for the season. 

If you prefer keeping a set of tires on your vehicle all year round, there are few reasons to select all-weather tires vs all-season tires. On the other hand, if better traction control during the winter season is important to you, a separate set of winter tires and summer tires is the ideal option.

A Word On Expense

The expense of having 2 sets of tires for summer and winter driving shouldn't be a question. Switching between summer and winter tires for the season extends the life of both. Storing your all season (or summer tires) in the winter will extend the tire life. Using all season tires all year round will wear faster and need to be replaced more frequently. So any "savings" would be minimal.

Comparing all season tires vs all weather tires vs winter tires. Let's dive in...

All Weather Tires

All weather tires are a popular choice among drivers and carry the mountain snowflake symbol. This means they've passed the required safety tests. However, all weather tires are not entirely designed for winter use.

All weather tires are stiffer than winter tires which offers less traction on ice. All weather tire tread pattern is less aggressive, which means they have less traction in the snow. According to tire experts, most all weather tires provide about 10% greater traction than standard summer tires. And because the rubber compound is not meant for hot climates, the tread deteriorates far more quickly on the hot pavement.


To put it in one sentence... all weather tires deliver fair performance year round, but fall short in harsher winter weather and road conditions.

All Weather Tire Benefits & Considerations

Some benefits and things to consider when choosing all weather tires over winter tires and all season tires:

  • you save money on winter tires

  • work great in a location with limited snowfall

  • perform better in winter versus all season tires

  • good alternative for drivers who seldom drive in winter or extreme weather conditions

  • running on a single pair of all weather tires all year round will wear its tread sooner

All Season Tires

All season tires are a terrific alternative, but they will never outperform winter tires. They also compare less effective than all weather tires in winter conditions.

All season tires are better equipped for spring, summer and fall. They can handle some winter conditions but are far less equipped than winter tires and all weather tires during the winter months.

Many vehicles today come equipped with all season tires, which provide a smooth ride, fair tread life, and year-round performance (depending on how severe the winter).

All Season Tire Benefits & Considerations

Some benefits and considerations when choosing all season tires over winter tires and all weather tires:

  • can be used in both wet and dry weather conditions

  • good in varying degrees of hot and cold temperatures

  • can withstand mild snow

  • best for temperatures above "0" degrees Celsius and above

Winter Tires

Winter tires provide superior traction vs all season and all weather tires in snow, ice and cold weather because of its softer rubber compound. 

All season and all weather tires harden when temperatures drop causing them to lose essential grip in cold conditions. The design molded into a winter tire tread pattern is another critical factor for traction control during winter driving versus all season and all weather tires.

Winter Tire Benefits & Considerations

Some benefits and considerations when choosing winter tires over all season tires and all weather tires:

  • requires a tire change for winter season

  • requires tire change every spring to avoid excessive wear

  • great traction control in snow and cold weather conditions

  • wear fast in temperatures above 7 degree Celsius

  • outperform all season and all weather tires in extreme winter weather

Should You Install All Season, All Weather Or Winter Tires?

It's really a compromise. The main factors to consider are:

  • the weather conditions year round in your region

  • your safety when driving in winter conditions

  • is it worth the time and expense of different sets of tires considering weather conditions

All season tires provide the best performance in the spring, summer, and fall.

Although all season tires provide a smooth ride, resist water when driving in the rain and hold the road better in warm to hot weather - they are not designed for sub-zero temperatures and snow covered roads.

Temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius (without any snow on the road) can cause all season tires to lose traction in cold weather conditions.

All season tires won't offer the same level of intense grip and precise handling as summer tires during spring and summer months. Braking distance diminishes considerably with all season tires during below freezing temperatures and slick roadways.

To put it simply, all season tires are not engineered for extreme winter conditions such as snow, cold and ice. If you live an an area with harsh winter weather, peak performance in your vehicles traction and drivability is at its best with winter tires installed on your vehicle.

If swapping winter tires each fall season is not an option for you, and the winter weather is extreme, all weather tires over all season tires are the better option.

All weather tires are designed for dry and wet roads all year long with a longer tread life vs winter tires that come with quality of all season tires. All weather tires also come engineered with a grip closer to that of winter tires over all season tires during the winter months.

Because of their proven winter performance, all weather tires are the most likely fit if you just need one set of tires for year round use and experience true winter conditions annually.

So in the case of most Canadians - all weather tires are better than all season tires but less effective than winter tires.

Winter tires provide maximum grip in cold, snow and icy weather. As temperatures drop below zero, winter tires increase in grip vs all season tires and all weather tires which begin to lose traction at 4 - 7 degrees Celsius). 

Winter tires also wear considerably more when driving in warmer spring and hot summer weather. To provide a long winter tire tread life, it's important to swap your winter tires for summer or all season tires as soon as temperatures reach 7 degrees Celsius and above.

If you've ever experienced a drive in the snow or ice with a set of winter tires versus all season or all winter tires, you can literally feel the difference in the awesome traction winter tires provide.

With your safety as your main consideration and if the weather calls for it - install a winter sets of tires during winter and all season or summer tires for the spring and summer months. You will extend the tire life in each set of tires and feel confident behind the wheel for the road conditions you encounter.



The difference between all season tires all weather tires & winter tires

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