Whether or not you can use all-season tires year-round isn’t incredibly clear-cut. The subtle differences between winter, all-season, and all-weather tires can make tire shopping a bit confusing.
Most of the time, all-season tires are the “default” tire. However, that doesn’t mean that they perform wonderfully throughout the winter. Keep reading to find out if you can safely use the same pair of all-season tires year-round!
Are All-Season Tires Good for Winter?
All-season tires can handle minor wintery conditions. For the most part, they are designed to drive best when the road is dry. However, they can handle about an inch or so of snow without losing grip. If your area sees more extreme conditions, you likely need to invest in a pair of winter tires.
However, it isn’t always super straightforward. Below, we’ll discuss exactly when all-season tires cannot be safely used through the winter, as well as your other winter tire options!
Is It Safe to Drive with All-Season Tires in Winter?
In most cases, it will depend on your exact area. If you live somewhere extremely cold, all-season tires may not cut it. However, if your area doesn’t get particularly cold, then all-season tires may work out just fine.
Usually, all-season tires are suitable for mild winters. An inch or so of snow is likely fine, though it can depend on the quality of the tire.
Specifically, all-season tires are designed for handling dry and wet conditions. When it comes to cold, wet roads, they do just fine.
With that said, they typically aren’t great for more than a few inches of snow.
Generally, I recommend all-season tires if icy, snowy roads are only around a few days out of the year. In these cases, there are few reasons to invest in winter tires.
However, if you’re driving on icy roads for the majority of the winter, winter tires are probably a solid option.
Are All-Season Tires Good in the Snow?
Usually, all-season tires aren’t particularly good in the snow. However, they are designed to work in moderate winter conditions.
In other words, they cannot climb a mountain in feet of snow. That just isn’t their purpose. However, they can likely get you to work when an inch or two of snow is on the ground.
Generally, they’re great for minor wintery conditions. For more extreme cases, you should probably invest in winter tires.
If your area commonly requires the use of snow chains, then winter tires are probably something you should invest in.
In other words, all-season tires can drive through snow, especially if it is only a small amount. However, if there is a substantial amount of snow, then winter tires are the better option.
Is it Better to Get All-Season Tires or Winter Tires?
Winter tires will always outperform all-season tires in snowy, icy conditions – as long as you purchase quality winter tires, of course.
Therefore, it is generally considered better to purchase winter tires in areas that commonly experience snowy conditions. With winter tires, you’ll get better stopping power and more stability.
If you live in a particularly snowy area, these tires can go a long way to preventing accidents.
However, that doesn’t mean that everyone needs winter tires. If your area doesn’t get many wintery-driving days, then you probably don’t need to make this investment.
In other words, unless you’re continuously driving through wintery conditions, you probably don’t need winter tires. But, if you have the extra capital floating around, they can’t hurt.
What Temperatures Are All-Season Tires For?
On top of the amount of snow on the ground, the temperature also matters when it comes to the tires you use.
Generally, all-season tires are great until the temperature begins to drop below freezing regularly. When the temperature drops below 42 degrees Fahrenheit, the rubber on all-season tires can begin to harden.
Obviously, this leads to them performing less-than-stellar. At this point, you want to switch to winter tires if you have them.
With that said, all-season tires will continue to work okay under these conditions. However, they won’t perform as well as winter tires would.
Should I Get All-Season or All-Weather Tires?
While it may sound confusing, all-season and all-weather tires are not the same thing.
On one hand, all-season tires generally perform best on dry roads. Plus, they also ride and handle better in most cases. Generally, their overall ride comfort is just higher than most other tire types.
On the other hand, all-weather tires are better for wet roads. Usually, they also handle better in snow and ice, though not as good as winter tires. However, they don’t provide the same level of handling and comfort that all-season tires offer.
When it comes to function, all-weather tires are a step between winter tires and all-season tires.
As you might expect, which tires you purchase largely depends on the weather. If your climate is extremely wet, then all-weather tires may be a better choice than all-season tires. Typically, all-weather tires will also perform better in wintery conditions than all-season tires.
Therefore, you may not have to switch them out in the winter months.
Can I Leave Winter Tires On All Year?
Technically, you could. However, this is not recommended. Winter tires wear out quite quickly in the hotter, drier conditions of summer. Therefore, you won’t get as much use out of your tires.
Unless you live somewhere that is constantly snowy and wet, winter tires won’t be suitable for year-round usage.
Usually, winter tires are advertised as being good for two to three seasons. If you use them through the summer, this won’t be the case, though. In some cases, you may find yourself needing to buy new tires every year.
On the other hand, all-season tires take much longer to wear down. When taken care of, they can last a much longer time than winter tires.
Plus, all-season tires generally handle better and provide a smoother ride.
To find out more about tires, you can also see our related posts on how long do all-season tires last, how long do winter tires last, and what are tire socks.
All-season tires are often fine for areas that have moderate winters. If you only see a snowy day or two out of the year, all-season tires can function perfectly fine.
On the other hand, all-season tires do not perform as well in ice and snow as winter tires. For areas with regular icy and snowy roads, winter tires may be a good investment.
For the most part, it simply depends on what exactly your area sees in the winter.