Winter Tires vs. Regular Tires

Fall is upon us; have you been thinking about winter tires? It can get confusing in a hurry, why do they call regular tires “all-season or “all-weather” if they are not good for winter conditions? Are winter tires that different from regular tires after all? What makes a winter tire so great in the rain and snow anyway? 

Here is the skinny: 
All-season tires do handle the best in dry weather; they offer a shorter stopping distance and often ride and handle better. They are a good year-round tire in a temperate climate with weather averaging above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. An all-season tire can be identified by its rounded grooves and symmetrical tread pattern. These tires offer a very comfortable ride, they handle well on the highway and also offer good all-around traction, plus you can use your existing wheels, which is VERY convenient.

All-weather tires handle well on the road and in wet conditions, and they perform better throughout mid-season transitions. They have a deep crisscross & zigzag tread pattern, also combined with a deep channel that helps divert water and slush, which is great for wet weather and helps prevent hydroplaning. These tires can extend your typical tire season before needing to put on chains or swap out for your winter tires. An added benefit of these tires is that you can use your existing wheels. All-weather tires can be a great year-round option in a temperate climate. 

Winter tires use specialized tread designs engineered for maximizing traction on icy roadways and in freezing temperatures. They are also made with a specialized rubber compound, which is softer. This composite increases grip and traction in wet conditions. Winter tires also have grooved edges and channels often called siping in the tire world; this is designed to help dig into the snow and slush for added traction as well as push water away out of your path of travel increasing road to rubber ratio. Winter tires do require steel wheels that take up space in your garage for the rest of the year; they also do not fit on your average wheel.

Here is a good rule of thumb; normal tires, aka “all-season” and “all-weather” are better for driving in weather above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They last longer and offer a smoother ride; however, these tires perform about 50% less well than winter tires in cold conditions. This is a HUGE difference in handling and stopping power if you get caught in cold driving conditions.

Still curious about which tire is best for you? Set up an appointment online with American Five Star Auto Repair and Transmission today! You can find us at 2070 E Apache Blvd Ste. 101, Tempe, AZ 85281 Mon - Fri: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM | Sat: 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM. We look forward to talking traction with you!


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