If you’ve ever shopped for new tires, you’ve probably seen a display ranging from winter to summer options, with all-seasons in between. But do you know what the difference is between the two and why it’s often worth buying a set for each season?
To help explain this, our favorite car nerd, Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained, breaks down the difference between summer and winter tires. His explanation goes pretty in-depth, but the most important takeaway is that winter tires are engineered to stay grippy when it gets cold. The rubber in summer tires offers more grip when it’s warm, but below an ambient temperature of 45 degrees or so, they get too hard to provide effective grip.
All-seasons, on the other hand, try to marry the best attributes of both summer and winter tires. Ultimately, that means compromising on performance. It’s definitely better to use all-seasons instead of summer tires in the winter, but you’re never going to beat dedicated winter tires for cold-weather performance. Even if you’re not going to be driving up any snow-covered ski slopes this season.