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All season tyres vs. winter tyres

All season tyres vs. winter tyres

Snow And Winter Tyres

When it comes to picking out a set of tyres there are a lot of things to consider - from the fit to the requirements of your car, it’s important to select the right tyre for your needs. Another factor that is also important to think about is the season.

Tyres are usually split into three seasonal categories: summer tyres, winter tyres, and all season tyres, with each having their own benefits. With winter just around the corner, in this article we will assess the benefits of all season tyres versus winter tyres.

The core differences between tyre types

The three types of seasonal tyres have different properties which makes them suited to specific circumstances. Summer tyres are essentially standard tyres, which the majority of drivers in the UK use. This type of tyre is made from a harder compound, so that they soften in milder temperatures to provide better grip.

In colder temperatures, however, summer tyres are too hard and don’t offer the same levels of grip. Winter tyres, on the other hand, are purpose built to handle colder temperatures and icy roads, thanks to being made from a softer compound. This type of tyre also features a different tread pattern, which includes fine grooves that are designed to cut into the snow more effectively.

Finally, all season tyres offer a compromise between the two, and typically represent a middle ground between summer and winter tyres. Made from a compound suitable for cold and mild conditions and featuring the grooves of a winter tyre, all season tyres are a good option for a range of conditions.

The different compounds and tread patterns of each tyre makes them suitable for particular conditions, and understanding the benefits of these properties is important in deciding what you need to handle the weather conditions in your area.

The benefits of all season tyres

Due to the multi-functionality of all season tyres, they have a bit of a reputation as being a jack of all trades, but all season tyres can be an excellent choice for a variety of conditions in the UK.

While winter tyres are only really suitable for colder weather conditions, all season tyres can be used in the warmer months, which makes them more versatile. This can also be beneficial for drivers on a tighter budget, as you don’t have to buy a second pair of tyres and change between them.

Most tyre manufacturers suggest that all season tyres are effective down to temperatures of -5°C, which makes them fairly well suited to winter conditions in the UK.

In terms of braking distances, all season tyres are better at wet and dry braking than winter tyres, although, as you would expect, winter tyres offer shorter braking distances in the snow. This should be an important factor in your tyre choice, as if you live somewhere where there is considerable rainfall and very little snow, then all season tyres are likely to be a better choice.

Overall, for drivers across the UK, all season tyres are a versatile option that are suitable for most weather conditions you are likely to face. While all season tyres are useful across seasons, they aren’t as effective as having two sets of specialist summer and winter tyres and switching between the two.

All season tyres are a good choice for drivers who don’t want the hassle and expense of changing tyres twice a year, and who live in milder areas that encounter little snowfall.

The benefits of winter tyres

Winter tyres are purpose built to handle colder conditions than all season tyres are able to support, and if you’re likely to spend large parts of the winter well below freezing conditions, then winter tyres are a better choice.

Thanks to their specific tread pattern and softer compound, winter tyres offer superior grip on icy roads and in snow, which makes them safer than the alternatives in particularly cold weather. In these types of conditions, winter tyres offer the best braking performance, although as we mentioned earlier, all season tyres are better at braking on wet roads.

Temperature, however, is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to choosing tyres. Currently, tyre manufacturers’ research suggests that winter tyres are more effective than summer tyres at temperatures of below 7°C.

This means that any time the temperature drops below this level, winter tyres offer better braking, and a decreased risk of skidding.

What tyres should I choose?

Both all season tyres and winter tyres have their range of benefits, and both are good choices for colder conditions. Whether you opt for all season tyres or winter tyres depends on a few specific factors.

Firstly, where you live is important. If you live in a part of the country that experiences mild winters with little snowfall, or places where wet roads are common, then all season tyres will be suitable. For colder conditions and icy roads, winter tyres are a safer and more reliable choice.

Cost is of course an important factor too. Having a set of specific summer and winter tyres is ideal, although this can be pricey - particularly when you consider storing and changing the tyres. All season tyres may be a cheaper option, although it is worth bearing in mind that these tyres will wear faster as they are being used all year round.

Whatever option you choose, it is important to have a set of tyres that can handle colder weather conditions as we move into the winter months.

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Ratings from A-G
A = Best Fuel Economy

WET GRIP wet grip

Ratings from A-G
A = Best wet weather

NOISE LEVEL noise level

The lower the decibel,
the quieter the tyre