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To the naked eye, most tires appear to be the same- various styles and sizes of metal wheels engulfed by numerous patterns of thick tire tread. But the truth is, each tread pattern and tire structure is designed to serve a specific purpose. A lot of tire buyers will be sold on the idea of all-season tires, which have the best combination of features and functionality to serve your car for all twelve months of the year. However, the all-season tag can be a bit misleading, as there is one season that these tires are not particularly strong in—winter.
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When it comes to winter, depending on where you live, they All-Season tires aren't always the best option. However, to be fair, there are a lot of advantages to all-season tires.
  • Designed to offer a combination of benefits from summer and winter tires.
  • Made with a longer tread life in mind.
  • Overall, it is a smoother ride than snow tires.
  • Built with performance in mind.
  • Cost effective for drivers who don't experience extreme temperatures.

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The first is that the term "all-season" is a bit of a misnomer; what this really means is that this category of tire is very efficient in three seasons
—spring, summer and fall.
  • Not strong in the winter months.
  • As soon as temperatures drop and roads get hit with dangerous mixes of freezing rain, sleet and snow, these tires start to lose pressure and grip quickly.
  • While they are built to be more durable and more dynamic than other seasonal tires, they are not gaining as much in the traction department as you might think.

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While all-season tires earn their value in being a jack-of-all-trades, winter tires are known as a specialty tire.
  • Winter tires are built to handle slippery and perilous roads that have been affected by snow and ice.
  • Softer and grippier rubber, very deep tread gaps, bulkier sidewalls, and sometimes hard studs combine to give snow tires the most road traction possible.
  • Manufactured to be better at braking to provide better control during snowy weather, which is crucial on icy roads.
  • Some winter tires are even equipped with built-in metal studs that pierce through the ice and provide a much sturdier grip on the roads.

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Of course, winter tires are surely not without their pitfalls.
  • Intended to be driven cautiously in problematic road conditions, snow tires are designed for slower speeds, which means a sacrifice in acceleration and handling on unaffected roads.
  • Their softer rubber content, combined with exposure to rougher road conditions, tends to be more prone to tread wear, making their life expectancy moderately shorter than that of all-season tires.
  • With studded snow tires, they tend to have adverse effects on the roads themselves, causing long-term damage to roadways with consistent use.
  • Some states have legislation dictating a window of time that winter tires are permissible to be on vehicles.

If you live in an area where winter weather is a huge factor, you should absolutely consider purchasing winter tires. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a choice between all-season and winter tires, as you can simply install and uninstall each set as needed. Snow tires are capable of enduring multiple winters, so do not consider them a sunk cost after one season. If you have any additional questions, be sure to consult with the mechanics at your local Pep Boys, who can break down the pros and cons of tire types even further!