Tires remain one of the most important aspects of the car, good tires not only provide a comfortable ride but also crucial for safety purposes, in this article I am going to answer if you can really use all-season tires in winter. Let’s jump straight to it.
In short, Yes, All-season tires are designed to be used in all weather conditions, but they were not specifically engineered for driving on snow, ice, or wet pavement. All-Season Tire tread designs channel water from under the tire footprint while Winter Tire tread designs allow water to run off the tire.
Why All-Season Tires are Not Good When the Temperature Drops
All-season tires have a reputation for being a jack-of-all-trades. While they on paper cover all of the weather scenarios that you might encounter in a typical year, they can also perform poorly in some important conditions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)has conducted tests that show that all-season tires are not designed for cold weather use. If you live in an area where temperatures regularly drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, there may be times when your all-season tires do not offer as much grip on snow or ice as a winter tire would.
Temperature Matters when it comes to Tires
Instead of using temperature ratings from a laboratory, tire and vehicle manufacturers today use tread temperatures to specify how well a tire works in the snow. The “SN” designated tires can be used safely when they are below 7 degrees Celsius (or about 45 degrees Fahrenheit).
What is the difference between winter tires and all-weather tires?
Many drivers get confused by the difference between winter tires and all-weather tires. This is because some manufacturers are also adding little features to their all-weather tires that are also seen on winter tires.
These features may make the consumer think they are getting a true winter tire, but in fact, it is not quite true. Winter tires that have certain “w” markings on them means that they have passed guidelines set forth by EU law.
These guidelines ensure that the manufacturer has built-in special characteristics to the tire for better grip and traction when there is ice or snow present on the road.
All-season tires were designed to be used throughout the year. Because of this, they can handle some light snow and icy conditions.
Their tread compounds are softer than those which are used on winter tires, making them prone to hydroplaning in wet or rainy conditions. All-season tires tend to wear out faster than their winter counterparts because they must perform well in a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions.
Are winter tires better than all season?
No. They are not any better than all-season tires, and because they are narrower than all-season tires, they can be (and often are) less safe.
The point of a “winter tire” is that it has more tread for the amount of rubber used (which is why wheels with 205/60R16 winter tires always look so much smaller than wheels with 215/60/16 all-season tires).
This extra tread means more snow and ice traction. But it also means reduced contact patch width — the part of the tire that makes contact with the road — which makes for worse handling in wet weather.
Which Tires are good in Snow?
From winter tires to studded tires, there are a variety of options when it comes to tires for driving in the winter and snow. But which ones are best?
I looked at real-world tests and research on the various tire and tread types to find out how each type holds up in the wet and slushy conditions characteristic of most snowstorms, as well as dry, hard-packed snow.
I determined that good all-weather radials can hold their own in snowy conditions. Better still are dedicated winter or snow tires that have a special design intended for low-traction surfaces. And the best option of all is a set of studded tires—provided you live where studs are legal, of course.
Conclusion on using all-season Tires in Winter
As you would expect the answer was more complicated than a simple yes or no. All season tires are great to a certain extent and always recommend them, however, I would recommend that you also get winter tires which you will use when the time comes.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.