If you're like most American drivers today, you think of all-season tires as "normal" tires. But the truth is that a tire that can be used in all seasons is a relatively recent concept. Up until the 1970, summer tires were your normal tire.
All-season tires never caught on in Europe like they did in the United States. European drivers switch between summer and winter tires as seasons change, enjoying the best possible safety and performance in each season.
Some well-informed American drivers do the same. But why should you consider summer tires, also known as 3 season tires, over the all-season tires you're used to? It all comes down to the weather you encounter.
How Summer Tires Work
Summer Tires in Sunny Weather
On dry roads, summer tires are king-latching onto pavement and hugging corners like no other. All thanks to soft, sticky rubbers specially chosen for maximum performance in warm weather.
What does this mean for you? Enhanced stopping power, crisp handling, and responsive steering that makes you feel more in control.
Summer Tires in Rain
It's a common misconception that all-season tires handle rain better than summer tires. But that's all it is - a misconception. After all, "rain" isn't a season, right? In fact, summer tires give rain the one-two punch with a combo of tread compounds and tread pattern.
On slightly wet roads, the same sticky rubber that maximizes dry grip works just the same works just the same on damp pavement.
And in deeper water, a summer tire's rain grooves fling rain out from under the tire to keep more of the tire's rubber in contact with the road.
Summer Tires in Winter
Have you ever been driving down a snowy road and felt your car start to slide? Or hit the brakes only to have your car keep lumbering forward against your will? It's an awful feeling of panic, and it can even happen when you're using all-season tires.
It's even worse with summer tires. They harden in cold weather and lose grip, and the tread patterns aren't designed for snow or ice, so even a little bit can send you sliding. It's a simple fact - summer tire's aren't safe in winter weather.
Choosing Summer or All-Season Tires
You know the phrase "never say never"? Well we're about to say it-twice.
If it never snows where you live (and temps rarely dip below 45 degrees), you don't need all-season tires. It's that simple. They certainly won't hurt, but what's the good of a tire that makes compromises to achieve light snow grip, when you don't use it in the snow?
But never use summer tires in winter weather. When there's snow or ice, summer tires can be downright dangerous. Winter is pretty much the only time when an all-season tire would outperform an otherwise similar summer tire (but it still won't match a true winter tire.)