All Season Tires Really For All Seasons?

Dear Tracy,

I am from southern California and college freshman now living in Michigan. This will be my first winter driving in an area that gets ice and snow. While I don’t do a lot of driving, I do have to drive across town several days a week to get to a part time job. Do you think it would be worth it for me to invest in a set of snow tires for the coming months? Is there really much difference between the performance of snow tires and all season tires?

James B.

Dear James,

Michigan winter driving  will definitely be a very different experience than what you are used to. Navigating ice or snow covered roads is very challenging, and nothing really prepares you for it other than experience and a properly equipped car with the right tires. Snow tires are without a doubt worth the investment.

Contrary to what the name suggests, all season tires are really not the best tire choice for driving all seasons and weather conditions. All season tires are designed to provide the best ride and driving performance in a variety of temperatures. Snow or winter tires are made to perform optimally in cold temperatures, and driving on snow or ice.

The reason snow tires are better for winter driving lies in the design and the type of rubber used. The rubber in snow tires is developed to grip better in low temperatures. Additionally, snow tires feature small tread blocks and siping, which means that the treads are cut for better traction and to prevent hydroplaning. Since the rubber used in winter tires is softer, it wears faster than all season tires. Winter tires may need to be replaced every three or four seasons, and it will be important to switch back to those all season tires as soon as winter is over.