Tires keep you and your vehicle safe on the road. However, it is important to wisely choose the correct set for each season, based on the needs of your vehicle. This is because tires are designed to grip the road and give the driver directional control.
But, the question that is not easy to answer without generalizing things is: Should you get summer tires vs all season tires?
These tire types are completely different from winter tires. Therefore, they will offer their specific performance and usability in versatile weather and temperature conditions. Generally speaking, they are not interchangeable - hence why they are different categories.
Summer tires perform best in high-heat conditions, while all weather models offer year-round performance. These tire sets provide their own performing abilities. Let's take a closer look at what they are!
WHAT IS A SUMMER TIRE?
Summer tires are used in warm weather. They are also known as performance tires, due to the exceptional summer weather traction and handling provided.
They are manufactured with heat-resistant rubber compounds, which are usually molded into asymmetric or directional tread patterns. The footprints feature large tread blocks and continuous ribs which increase their road-to-rubber ratio. Still, summer tire sets come with shallower tread depths.
While the specific rubber compounds prevent pressure and heat accumulation, the tread pattern is responsible for the tire's handling. Better traction during the warmer months makes these tires perfect for high performance vehicles.
WHEN TO CHANGE TO SUMMER TIRES?
Summer tires should not be used in cold temperatures, as they will not provide the needed traction during the winter months. They are specifically designed for temperatures above 45 degrees.
Because of this, when temperatures are averaging around 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and the roads are clean drivers can start thinking of switching to summer tires.
WHEN TO CHANGE WINTER TIRES?
The reverse is also true. It is time to switch back to winter tires when temperatures start dropping. Summer tires are unable to offer the same traction in colder temperatures. As a result, they need to be changed before the weather reaches freezing conditions.
Take a look at our another blog post about summer tires if you wish to learn more.
What do Summer Tires Offer?
Summer tires are known for their exceptional traction and performance in warm seasons. They use tread designs and durable tread compounds to achieve this. Their combination ensures the tires' traction in wet and dry conditions, enabling their usability in warm climates.
Summer tires are often used on performance cars, as they also offer superb handling and braking capabilities. The tires' cornering performance is also exceptional! All of these improvements are the result of the tires' optimized footprint. Due to this, they are mostly used on sports cars.
Warmer weather during the summer months requires tires to securely handle the heat generated during their performance. To do this, they incorporate durable rubber compound blends, which effectively avoid heat build-up.
Apart from their specific rubber compound, summer tires also use their tread patterns to improve traction. The tread often features wide circumferential and lateral grooves that evacuate water from below the footprint. In other words, not only do summer tires offer good dry traction, but they also resist hydroplaning.
As a result, these models can securely maintain traction in wet conditions. Dry and wet roads do not cause issues for summer tires.
Handling, braking, and cornering safety are guaranteed with summer tires. The asymmetric tread design's footprint optimizes its straight-line stability, which upgrades the tire's steering responsiveness and driving stability. Most drivers will have better control over their sports cars when they are equipped with summer tires.
Additionally, during their use in warmer temperatures, summer tire sets ensure the vehicle's cornering and braking abilities. The footprint provides optimal performance in dry and wet conditions, thanks to the friction created during the drive.
In other words, summer tire sets promote cornering traction and shortened stopping distances.
Summer tires generally come with higher speed ratings. They are able to effectively handle the pressure build-up during their high speed performance. Hence, the term "summer performance tires" exists.
The best tires that offer high speed durability are marked with H, V, W, or Y speed rating letters. Buy summer tires for exceptional summer traction.
A high speed tire utilizes its compound, tread design, and stronger internal structure to achieve its exceptional performance. However, tire brands use different technologies to further improve their tire models.
ARE SUMMER TIRES GOOD IN THE RAIN?
Summer tires in rain perform exceptionally well. Most summer tires are designed with solid ribs and wide grooves that work to maintain surface contact at all times. This includes wet road surfaces. Therefore, summer tires in the rain are able to channel water through their footprints, preventing hydroplaning and providing set wet-weather traction.
HOW TO IDENTIFY SUMMER TIRES?
The easiest way to identify summer tires is the lack of the M+S designation. M+S stands for mud and snow, showing that the tire is able to handle such weather conditions.
However, exceptions prove the rule... There are a few summer tires that sport the M+S rating but are still considered to be summer tires. One example is the Radar Dimax eSport 2, which is a performance, summer tire designed for electric vehicles.
ARE SUMMER TIRES WORTH IT?
This is not easy to answer, as the reply greatly depends on where each driver is located.
Of course, in Southern states, where warm weather rules almost throughout the entire year, investing in a good set of summer tires is crucial. It will keep the vehicle running smoothly and maximize the driver's control over the car for the majority of the year.
However, in areas where summer weather lasts only a couple of months, all season tires are a better choice. Using summer tires for such short periods will not worth be the mounting and balancing costs each season.
Another factor we should consider is storage. Tire storage requires space, energy, and additional equipment. If you do not have a garage or a readily available storage space, seasonal tire changes are not ideal for you.
WINTER TIRES VS SUMMER TIRES
The difference between winter and summer tires is evident. Winter tires are for freezing temperatures and slippery roads, while summer tires handle warm conditions better. Still, the summer vs. winter tires debate is not easy to answer.
The truth is, that whether you equip your vehicle with summer tires vs. winter tires depends on where you live and drive. Someone living near the Canadian border will have no use for summer tires, as the weather can suddenly change for the worse (all season tires would be a better alternative). On the other hand, the Southern part of our vast country has no need for winter tires.
Still, both winter and summer tires have their specific applications and uses. So, when necessary, it is advisable to mount them.
CAN YOU DRIVE SUMMER TIRES IN WINTER?
Summer-only tires should never be used in winter conditions unless you live in an area where temperatures stay above 45 degrees throughout the year and "winter" is in name only.
Summer performance tires are not able to provide the necessary traction on slippery roads. Additionally, their compounds cannot offer the same flexibility in colder temperatures as winter compound blends. As mentioned before, the summer tire temperature range is anything above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and they should only be used in warm conditions, on dry or wet roads.
What are All Season Tires?
All season tires, as their name suggests, are known for their year-round traction. Their tread design and stronger compounds are able to handle both cold and warm months.
These tires have become the most well-known category on the tire market, with reason. Car owners can enjoy a year-round performance, fuel economy, a lengthened tread life, and even better driving comfort levels.
All Season tires are designed with symmetric tread patterns, along with deeper treads and more details across the footprint. This combination ensures secure performance in versatile driving conditions.
WHAT ARE ALL SEASON TIRES GOOD FOR?
Vehicles equipped with all season tires offer a wider performance range than summer tires. They are regarded as tires for winter and summer conditions alike. These tire types feature more rubber on their footprint, which contributes to their better tread depth. Therefore, the tires are able to enhance their safer year-round driving experience.
While these tire sets sacrifice a bit from their controllability, they make up for it with their usability, fuel efficiency, and reduced road noise. These improvements are usually achieved with their tread patterns and durable compounds. An average driver will find that all weather models are the right tires for their vehicle.
All season tires will not provide the same levels of wet pavement traction as summer tires. Yet, they offer a wider performing range. Cold and often freezing temperatures do not cause issues for such tires, and they can securely perform on light snow as well.
The all season tire tread design, with its detailed sipe placement, and flexible compound are able to provide the needed dry, light winter, and wet traction. Therefore, all season tires perform safely throughout the year, but not in severe winter conditions.
Longer Tread Life
The deeper tread, stronger compound, and stable symmetric tread design offer a lengthened usability of all season tires. These are the manufacturing elements that work together in order to optimize the tread wear rate and manner of an all season tire.
Usually, all season tires can be used for up to 80,000 miles - however, this depends on the quality of the brand and model purchased. Some tire models also feature visual alignment and tread life indicators across their footprints.
Better year-long traction helps the tire ease the driving pressure off its footprint. These tire sets offer low rolling resistance all year long. Therefore, all season tires guarantee better fuel efficiency.
The decreased rolling resistance manages to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This makes all season tire sets more desirable for everyday driving, as it offers both fuel efficiency and an environmentally friendly driving experience.
Ride comfort is not exclusive to all season tires, however, they are the tire sets that offer the lowest road noise levels. These tire sets use their optimized tread pattern and stronger compound in order to ensure the passengers' driving enjoyment.
Their optimized footprints also manage to minimize road vibrations. These tire sets usually use their tread design or internal structure to absorb the shock of driving. As a result, vibrations cannot reach the vehicle's cabin.
All season tires are mostly manufactured as touring tires. Yet, in recent decades, tire brands have started designing these models as performance and high performance tires as well. The secret is that most of these tire sets offer good driving comfort levels, but not all of them.
HOW TO TELL IF TIRES ARE ALL SEASON?
How to tell if your tires are all season? Check their sidewall.
Most all season tires will have a M+S rating. As mentioned above, M+S tires are designed for mud and snow conditions and are regarded as tires that provide traction throughout the year. While there are exceptions to the rule, 99% of M+S rated tires are all season models.
Additionally, a lot of all season tires will have "All Season" or "A/S" stamped on their sidewall. So, what does A/S mean on a tire? It stands for all season, and it shows that the tire is for year-round use.
ARE ALL SEASON TIRES WORTH IT?
Again, it depends on your location. Often, all season tires are the better alternative to summer or winter tires. In certain states and areas, it makes more sense to purchase a set of all season tires to substitute winter or summer tire sets.
Still, all season tires will NOT stand in as perfectly safe alternatives for winter tires. For severe winter conditions, 3PMS-rated tires are necessary. The same goes for summer tires in areas where summer heat is extreme. In those cases, purchasing actual summer or winter tire sets will be more beneficial.
Are Summer Tires the Same as All Season Tires?
No, summer and all season tires are not the same!
A general rule of thumb is that summer models should not be used when temperatures reach 44 Fahrenheit or lower. On the other hand, all season tires are able to handle lower temperatures as well.
While both tire types offer good wet and dry traction, summer tires are better in such conditions. Yet, they do not offer safe winter driving. All season tires are a bit like snow tires, as they provide traction in light winter conditions.
In other words, summer tires should never be used as winter tires, while all season models can offer good winter traction on snow and ice-covered surfaces.
DO SUMMER TIRES WEAR FASTER?
Sadly, summer tires wear faster compared to all season models. While summer models are the best tires for hot climates, it also means that their compound blends are softer.
The optimal tread designs and stronger compound blends ensure an average of 65,000 miles for all season tires, meaning that summer tires are way behind in that regard. When it comes to performance summer tires, their average mileage warranty is around 35,000 miles. While this number is steadily rising with the passing years, mainly thanks to new technologies, summer tires are still not as good as al season tires when it comes to their tread life.
HOW LONG DO SUMMER TIRES LAST?
But, why is this? The answer lies in the summer tires' temperature range.
To handle hot weather, their compounds are softer. Additionally, summer tires feature a shallow tread depths. This combination results in these tires having significantly shorter life spans. Typically, the best tires for hot weather will offer around 20,000-40,000 miles of tread life before they wear out.
Is it Better to Get Summer Tires or All Season Tires?
Which is the best tire?
When it comes to the summer tires vs. all season tire debate, the answer greatly depends on the driving conditions the tire set will be used.
Summer and all season models can be used in similar conditions. However, if you are looking for tire sets able to handle light winter conditions, year-round tire sets might be a better choice. However, high performance durability in hot weather needs summer tires.
Therefore, what set you get at the tire shop and mount on your car is your choice. You will just need to keep in mind the pros and cons of each tire set.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can You Use Summer Tires All Year?
No, summer tires cannot be used all year. While they offer good traction on hot pavement, they lack the traction necessary for colder temperatures. Therefore, these tire sets are not safe to use on slippery roads and during the winter months.
Are Summer Tires OK in Winter?
No, summer tires should not be used in winter weather conditions. These tires do not offer the needed traction to safely perform on ice and snow-covered surfaces. Cars need to be equipped with winter tires in order to conquer harsh winter weather.
WHAT DOES A/S MEAN ON TIRES?
The A/S tires meaning is simple. A/S stands for all season. All season tires are a hybrid between winter and summer tires as they are able to provide traction in various temperatures. Also known as four seasons tire models, these tires can be used in warm and cold temperatures alike.