As deceptively simple circles of rubber, tires would seem to be the least complicated part of a car. Even so, when you first walk into an auto-supply store and see the sheer variety of choices for what you can put on your wheels, it may make your head spin (pun intended).
For those of us who live in areas of the country that experience four distinct seasons, some of the biggest tire questions revolve (I did it again!) around all-season tires and winter tires. What's the difference between these two categories? Why choose one over the other? Do you really need two complete sets of tires for one car, and can you justify that economically? Well don't worry, we're here along with Goodyear to answer those questions and more!
What Are The Main Differences Between All-Season Tires & Winter Tires?
The first of what would come to be known as all-season tires
was the Tiempo, manufactured by Goodyear in 1977. These days, most cars come equipped with some variation of the Tiempo's decedents, since this category is valued for its versatility. All-season tires are made with a hard rubber blend that can withstand hot weather, but are designed with traction and grip that can help in a variety of weather conditions, including rain, sleet, and even light snow.
sacrifice versatility for specialized features that help them perform well in the three hallmarks of winter: cold, snow, and ice. For the cold, their rubber composition is more pliable than the all-season blend, which allows for more secure grip in frigid temperatures. To handle the snow, increased tread depth fights snow accumulation that would otherwise cause your car to lose traction, while the tread patterns are designed to safely channel slush and water. As for ice, winter tires are covered in fine slits–known as sipes–
that give the tread a biting edge to fight the dreaded fishtailing.
When Should I Use All-Season Tires & When Should I Use Winter Tires?
To answer this question, Goodyear made an easy cheat sheet:
Basically, winter tires are a must in areas that regularly see temperatures of 45-degrees or below in the colder months. For motorists who experience winter as more of a "sweater weather" thing, all-season tires should do the trick–even if you do occasionally drive through a flurry or two.
What Are The Disadvantages of Using All-Season Tires In Colder Climates?
As mentioned, all-season tires are made from a harder rubber than winter tires, and this rubber tends to get even more rigid in the cold. Tires quickly lose their gripping power the harder they get, so loss of control can become a real issue. In addition to problems with handling, cold all-season tires can decrease braking ability.
Can I Use Winter Tires All Year Long?
Unfortunately the softer rubber of winter tires will quickly wear down in temperatures warmer that 45-degrees, prematurely aging them. The excessive softness of this kind of tire in warm weather can also increase braking distance, which can become doubly dangerous during summer showers. You’ll also really start to see the folly of keeping winter tires on all year long when it comes to filling up at the pump–their increased friction with the road reduces fuel efficiency.
When Should I Change Out My Tires?
Don't worry, there's no need to constantly be checking the thermometer and the weather report to figure out when to make the swap. Experts suggest setting a reminder to put on winter tires around Thanksgiving, and another to go back to all-season around April 1. Just make sure to store your extra set in a cool, dry place that is out of the sun.
How Can I Afford Two Sets of Tires?
Switching between two sets of tires can actually make a lot of economic sense. Beyond the fact that using the proper tire for the weather condition can keep you from having expensive accidents, they additionally will help you save money with improved fuel economy. Also remember, using two sets of tires means halving the wear, so you'll be going twice as long before needing to buy new ones.
Goodyear is making that second set even more affordable during their Spring Tire Sale
–right now, get $75 instant savings on a set of four Goodyear or Dunlap tires.
This post was sponsored by Goodyear, but the opinions are my own.