What’s Better All Season or Snow Tires?
Posted: Nov 10, 2013
Canadian winters can be a scary thing to drive through. Many Canadian drivers want to prepare the best they can for anything that may come their way. This includes having jumper cables, first aid packages in their trunk and the best tires available. Many ask the same question every year, what is better all seasons or snow tires?
All-season tires continue to provide safe all-weather performance, but may not always be suitable for severe snow conditions. All-season tires do not have cold weather rubber compounds, channeling tread patterns, the large number of tread sipes (tiny slits in the tread blocks) for wet surface control, and the open tread block pattern for deep snow traction that winter tires feature. The lack of a formal "snow" designation on the tire has further fuelled the misconception that "all-season" tires also mean "winter" tires.
On a snowy road, a vehicle wearing winter tires has a 38 per cent less chance of being involved in a collision than a vehicle wearing all-season tires. The fact that the winter tire’s stopping distance is 38 per cent shorter than an all-season tire under the same conditions probably has a lot to do with it.
Temperature, ice and snow all have an enormous effect on a tire’s ability to function. An all-season tire in the middle of August may be the right one because it delivers plenty of grip on dry pavement and it offers wet-weather traction. Its ability to function begins to deteriorate at around 7C. In the middle of December, on a -5C day, it is next to useless because the rubber has become so hard it has about as much grip on a cold road as a hockey puck has on ice. The closed tread pattern also means the tire is easily clogged with snow, which exacerbates the problem.
The worst situation is to have winter tires on all year round. If you keep winter tires on 12 months a year, you’ll not only have to replace them sooner, but you could be risking your car’s ability to stop in the spring, summer and fall, experts say.
- What makes them grip so well in winter is their formulated trade compound which stays soft in the cold,” says Gene Petersen, tire program leader at Consumer Reports magazine. “Normally you should get 2-3 seasons out of winter tires – but if you use them all year long, winter tires generally don’t handle as well as all-season tires and wear out faster.”
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