For All Seasons and Reasons
"Why buy two sets of tires when I can get along with one?"
That's a reasonable question to ask as the weather starts to warm up. Deciding between all-season and dedicated summer or winter tires is more difficult in areas with milder temperatures and occasional snow.
A better question to ask is: "What level of performance do I need from my tires for safety and confidence on the road?"
Every tire is a compromise. The manufacturers design their product lines with specific road surface, weather, and performance characteristics in mind. That's why there are so many makes and models to choose from. Even so, the three main types offer advantages and disadvantages that change with the seasons:
Are designed to provide satisfactory year-round performance over a wide temperature range and in all weather conditions. All-season tires feature:
- Compromise rubber composition
- Compromise sidewall construction
- Good traction on cold pavement
- Good rain, snow, and ice performance
- Good heat & cold resistance
Treads on all-season tires, such as the Pirelli P4 Four Seasons,
are designed to provide satisfactory road handling and stopping on a variety of surfaces and
over a wide range of temperatures. They can handle occasional light snows. Some are even marked
"M+S" for mud and snow, but they don't offer the cold temperature traction of Mountain Snowflake
Are designed for optimum performance during cold weather. They feature:
- Soft rubber composition
- Flexible sidewall construction
- Best traction on cold pavement (below 45 degrees)
- Best snow and ice performance
- Best cold resistance
Winter tires hold the road in cold temperatures, not just in snow. The softer rubber retains its grip and
shortens stopping distances, even on bare pavement. Of course, the treads are designed to dig
into and then release snow. In warm weather, the soft rubber loses its grip and wears like a
Note: Tires branded with the abbreviation "M+S" and the Mountain Snowflake symbol
meet the Rubber Manufacturers Association definitions for severe snow conditions.
Are designed for optimum performance during warm weather. They feature:
- Hard rubber composition
- Stiff sidewall construction
- Best traction on hot pavement
- Best rain performance
- Best heat resistance
Summer tires corner well on sizzling pavement and sluice away rain. Surface temperatures
might rise above 100 degrees, but the stiffer tread and sidewalls ensure superior touring,
road handling, and braking. In cold weather, the rubber becomes as stiff as plastic and
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Four patches of rubber are all that keep your car on the road. To maintain control, you
need tires that provide the optimum amount of friction. That means matching tire composition
and tread pattern to the driving conditions—particularly temperature. 45 degrees is the
For advice on tires and all of your automotive needs, visit the experts at Ken Towery.
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