Why do we need different tires?

Summer, snow, all-season... why?


As human beings, most people have multiple pairs of shoes. Some pairs of shoes are manufactured for a specific task: running, construction, hiking, skateboarding. So we can see that these shoes we wear on our feet help us with everyday situations. What about our cars? This article will help you to understand what to take into consideration the next time you are planning on buying a car or the next time you stop into the service department.

Just like shoes, we wouldn’t want to wear flat bottom skateboarding shoes while hiking or vice versa hiking shoes to go skateboarding. You might be able to get some accomplishments done but those shoes are geared towards their own specific task. Just like tires, tread patterns and materials are what help them perform.


To help you understand what is going to work best for you, let’s take a look at what makes these tires different.


Summer

Summer tires are ideal for high-performance vehicles and are built for speed and agility. They offer increased responsiveness, cornering, and braking capabilities. This is typically attributed to specialized tread patterns and rubber compounds that allow for improved precision on the road. The tread patterns of summer tires have less grooving and put more rubber in contact with the road. The tread compounds of summer tires are designed to remain more flexible, allowing for better traction and grip. Summer tires may have shallower tread depths that allow for more stability when pushed closer to their limits.



Winter


When it comes to driving in winter weather, having the right tire matters. From heavy snowfall to black ice, winter roads are extremely unpredictable. These conditions challenge tires to provide traction like no other season of the year. The combination of cold temperatures, ice, and snow can be best met by winter tires, which are specially designed to perform in winter conditions. There are specific features of winter tires that make them unique: tread rubber, tread depth and patterns, and biting edges.

In extremely cold temperatures, the tread rubber of an all-season or summer tire stiffens and becomes less able to provide sufficient traction. Because winter tires are made from softer compounds, they are able to maintain good traction. This also means that the rubber will wear down much faster in warmer weather. Their traction and braking performance are also reduced in warmer weather, so you should avoid driving on them year-round unless you live in Antarctica.



All Season

All-season tires are capable of providing traction in winter but are not the best tire to use in extreme winter driving conditions. Drivers who encounter extreme winter weather may want to consider switching to snow tires in the winter.

Because all-season tires offer a blend of summer and winter performance, they are often a good option for drivers in moderate climates and driving conditions or for those who can’t afford two sets of tires and want something that will get them by in a variety of conditions.




The Myths:


1. All-season tires grip wet roads better than summer tires.

Designing tires is an exercise in compromises: Improving one performance factor almost always means diminishing one or more others. Engineers responsible for all-season tires sacrifice traction on wet roads for better steering in snow and in sub-freezing temperatures. They accomplish this trade-off by opting for materials that stay flexible at low temperatures but loosen their grip on the road when it’s wet.


2. Winter tires are only for snow.

The rubber compounds and other components that go into winter tires keep them flexible in temperatures below 45°F (7°C). This flexibility lets tires provide better vehicle handling and stopping, even when there is no snow but temperatures are relatively low.


3. All-season tires work fine in the winter.

All-season tires are great for mild weather changes, but anyone who experiences colder winters and snow can get better performance with winter tires. Their supple rubber lets them perform in freezing temperatures without becoming brittle and cracking. Plus, their deep tread makes driving in the snow and slush safer. In addition to having flexible compounds and specialized tread designs, winter tires also allow all-season tires to last longer by replacing them for a quarter to half of the year. Drivers who alternate between the two sets extend the life of both and end up spending less in the long run.


4. Winter tires are more expensive.

Winter tires are cost-competitive with any other kind of tire.


5. If you have four-wheel drive, you don’t need winter tires.

In the winter, four-wheel drive can help get a car or SUV going but it won’t help when trying to stop. Four-wheel drive helps control the tires, but that doesn’t mean much if the tires don’t have enough friction with the road.


Just like shoes, there are many materials and different features that make them unique for their own task. With proper research on your tires, you can find the best option for yourself whether it’s running two different sets one for summer one for winter, or going with an all-season. There are tools that can help. To start with, here’s one link that’s very informative: https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/tires. The NHTSA site has great information on being tire wise. Topics from buying, maintenance, and aging, to how to read your tire label and much more. Hopefully, this post will help you to make an educated decision the next time you are trying to decide on what shoes to buy for your car.


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