Most new cars that are sold today are equipped with All-Season tires. In fact All-Season tires are a more popular choice than winter tires and summer tires in aftermarket purchases as well. In large part this is a good solution for drivers because many parts of the country do not see harsh winter weather conditions and even those areas of the country that do experience significant snow and ice still have the majority of the year without those conditions. Winter tires are neither necessary nor appropriate in late spring, summer and early fall even in colder regions. The implication of an “All Season” tire is that it is designed for all seasons. This is probably true for most people who live in the lower half of the U.S. but it could be misleading for our friends in the north and mountainous regions that get significant snow and ice.
Winter tires are specifically designed to grab snow and ice. Unlike an all season or summer tire, a snow tire is manufactured with a softer, more flexible rubber formula more suitable to cold weather. Using this compound, a winter tire retains its traction capabilities to hold the road better and to grip snow and ice. A summer or all season tire will tend to become more brittle and inflexible in cold temperatures and therefore it will slide much quicker. The ability to bite into snow and ice and to conform to the road is critical in the winter to avoid getting stuck, to steer and corner effectively and to stop. A tire not made specifically for cold weather cannot function effectively in winter stopping and cornering. Many newer cars are equipped with features like antilock brakes; stability control and even all wheel drive to help with effective maneuvering however, these systems are only as effective as the tires upon which all the systems are dependent. Picture an emergency room equipped with all the latest and best equipment ready to take care of any emergency thrust upon it. However, this ER is staffed by only first year med students. All the best technology in the world will not save lives without the critical knowledge of the doctor. In the same way, all the best traction systems on a car are useless without proper tires.