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Should You Change Your Car’s Tires with the Seasons?

mechanic changing tire
Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock

You’ve probably heard people talk about winter and summer tires. But tires are tires, right? Well, yes and no. Let’s take a look at why not all car tires are created equal.

Let’s start with the basics. Even though car tires may look the same from afar, they’re quite different from a structural and design point of view. So, let’s take a look at summer, winter, and all-season tires.

Summer Tires

Tires designed for summer use are made from a special rubber compound that offers the best grip when the road is dry or wet, but with a warmer temperature than we might expect in the winter.

With summer tires you are more likely to notice fewer grooves due to the reduced need to move water away from the contact surface. This means that more rubber can be in contact with the road at any given time, improving handling.

Of course, you can use summer tires in the winter, but they won’t offer the same level of grip as a tire that is specifically designed to be used during the colder months of the year.

Winter Tires

These tires are built to provide the best possible grip when there is snow or ice on the road. They are also particularly effective when the streets are wet—just like summer tires. However, winter tires use a different rubber compound that makes them more efficient and keeps them more flexible when the weather is cold.

Winter tires also have larger grooves to allow water to be pushed away from the contact surface, and there are larger chunks of rubber to aid traction.

Again, you can use winter tires in the summer, but they won’t last as long, and they won’t offer the same level of grip on dry roads as a summer tire.

So with all of that said, is there a tire that can be used all year round? Why yes, yes there is. You can probably guess its name.

All-Season Tires

The all-season tire is the best of both worlds, though it is, unfortunately, the master of none. They do their best to work equally well in cold and warm conditions, but as with all things that try compromise, that’s precisely what they are—a compromise.

If you live somewhere where the range in temperature isn’t a huge one all year round, then these tires should be fine. But if your weather and temperatures are a little more extreme, then getting tires designed for each season is absolutely the way to go.

Oliver Haslam Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam is a professional freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience. His work has been published on Macworld, PCMag, 1Password's blog, and other websites. He writes about all things Apple. Read Full Bio »
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