All-season tire more popular, but winter tire not dead yet
As November approaches, many car users think of changing their tires from summer to winter tires. In contrast to the US, where all-season tires are top-rated, the European customer was no fan yet. This seems to be changing due to the warm winters and the increasing quality of the newest all-season propositions.
“Many people choose comfort and ease of use these days,” says Jan Vanhaver, Sales Manager at Goodyear Belux. “They choose all-season tires, so they don’t have to change them twice a year and have no storage problems.”
“They also have the impression that choosing all-season tires is much cheaper. But that’s not always true. Real winter tires are still more comfortable and safer in winter conditions, which doesn’t necessarily implicate snow.”
A winter tire delivers better driving qualities and more safety than summer or all-season tires if the outside temperature is below 7°C. That is, of course, the case with snowfall, ice, or hail, but also when it rains, there’s a difference.
“People tend to think that winter tires are only useful when there’s snow on the road or when you go skiing, but this is a big miscomprehension. Lower temperatures and changing weather conditions make you feel much better with a decent winter tire,” Vanhaver adds.
The difference lies in the rubber composition and the special tire profile of the winter tire. Such a profile is made to evacuate much more water, counter possible aquaplaning, and reduce braking distances by as much as 30% compared to a summer tire. Of course, the traction in snowy or icy conditions is much better too.
The all-season tire is a compromise that made real progress lately. That’s why specialists advise its use when people do not drive a lot, be it in winter or summer.
“When you choose an all-season tire, it’s important that it has the ‘Three Peak Mountain Snowflake’ symbol,” warns Vanhaver. In countries where winter tires are mandatory or duly recommended in the winter season, these are also accepted as such.”
Not always cheaper
The golden rule seems to be that if one exceeds the limit of 10 000 to 15 000 km a year, it’s not only more comfortable and safer to change from summer to winter tires and vice versa, it will also be cheaper.
Using an all-season tire intensively during hot summer days will wear it out much more quickly. Because the rubber mix is softer, like with a good winter tire. Of course, the latter will wear down even more when used in the summer, and its profile is totally inadequate for dry, grippy summer roads.
As a compromise, the all-season tire has characteristics of the two ‘normal’ types of tire, but the latest progress has made it suitable for everyday use the whole year, as long as you’re not driving too long distances. But where it was often a (bad) combination of each of the usual tire types’ flaws. Today, quality has improved. It all depends on how often you use the car throughout the whole year to make it a sound or the wrong choice.