Winter Tires vs All-season Tires. Get Those Snow Tires On!

The snow is flying out there, which means it's time… Winter tire time! We're into December, and if you haven't done it yet, it's time to put those winter tires on your car. Here's the deal: I just got back from my appointment, and while I was there, I did a little research on the structural and performance differences between winter tires and your standard all-season tires. When I did a little digging, I found that the performance differences between them are actually are pretty staggering.

We'll get into those differences, but do yourself a quick favor and hop on your phone and make a call to your local tire shop to schedule your appointment. They are likely swamped right now, so you'll still have time to finish this article while you wait to get scheduled for an appointment. Two birds one stone! 😊   

On to the details! Let's talk about some of the differences between winter tires and all-season tires. We'll dive into the performance differences and design differences of the tire. Let's start with some of the performance differences.

I saw an interesting study where they took the same vehicle, and they drove 60 miles an hour in snowy conditions. They measured how long it would take to come to a complete stop for that vehicle going from 60mph all the way to zero on a snowy road. They ran this test multiple times with both Winter tires and your standard All-season tires. Here are the results:

  • When the vehicle had the all-season tires, it took 668 feet to come to a complete stop in the snow. 
  • When the car had the winter tires, it took 310 feet to stop. 

For simple comparison sake, we're talking two football fields to one! An entire football field is a significant difference in stopping time. It can make the difference between traveling home safely and making that phone call to your auto insurance company to report a claim.
On top of the stopping distance, the winter tires performed better in cornering and climbing in snowy conditions. It really wasn't close! 

Now let's talk about some of the design differences of a winter tire versus an all-season. Winter tires have a different style of tread on the tire. It's deeper with more groves and grippier edges designed to help with traction on all four tires. The groves are also designed to help push the snow and slush away from the tire to help grip the road better. 

Another underrated feature of a winter tire is that it is made from a different rubber compound that helps the tire stay a little softer in colder weather. So, when the temperature drops below freezing, those tires will continue to grip the road. 

What can happen with all-season tires is that as the temperatures get colder, the tire actually gets a little bit firmer and it makes it harder for it to grip the road. So you lose a little bit of traction, particularly in snowy or icy conditions. Comparatively, the winter tire, made from a softer rubber compound (which is why I can't drive it in the summertime), will continue to grip the road.

Pretty cool! Hopefully, given the performance difference and structural differences we just talked about, you've decided to swap those tires. Remember we're talking about a football field of difference between stopping distances! It's a significant amount!
So if you haven't done it yet, take some time, get those winter tires on your vehicle. Trust us! Your insurance agent will thank you, and more importantly, you'll be thanking yourself when you are caught on the road in the middle of an unexpected snowstorm. 

Get those winter tires on, and let's all pray for snow