A Tire for All Seasons or an All Season Tire

Dear Tracy,
I have recently heard that summer tires are the best choice for driving performance in warmer climates and during the summer months. Because I live in the Midwest, and have to drive in a variety of conditions throughout the year, I have always used a set of snow tires on my vehicle during the winter months, and switched to a set of all-season tires for the spring, summer, and fall months. Should I have a set of tires specifically for summer driving? Are the all-season tires best for spring and fall only?

-Troy D.

Dear Troy,
With all of the different varieties of tires available, including summer tires, all-season tires, and winter tires, choosing the right tire type can be a little confusing. While winter or snow tires are pretty straightforward, the name “all-season” may be a little less clear, because for some areas, an all-season tire may not work for all the seasons. Depending on whether or not you deal with harsh winter driving conditions, which as a mid-westerner, you likely do, an all-season tire may not meet your needs. A winter tire designed for snow and ice may be a better choice.

Summer tires are not exclusively the best choice for summer driving. The name “summer” is actually more indicative of the fact that these tires are ONLY appropriate for warm seasons and climates. Summer tires do offer excellent driving performance because they are made of a softer rubber that enhances handing, acceleration, and braking. Despite the great performance, they are probably not the most practical choice for the typical driver. The reason is that these tires wear much more quickly than other types of tires, due to the soft rubber used. This makes summer tires a relatively more expensive option than all-season tires.

An all-season tire is a great choice for all driving seasons other than winter, if you live in an area with harsh winters, during which you will want to use your winter tires. It sounds to me like your approach is the right one, so stick with it!