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All-season or winter tyres

When you should make the switch

Whenever you need to buy a new set of tyres, it’s the same question: When does it make sense to switch from all-season to seasonal tyres and vice versa? In this short overview, we want to provide you with the key facts.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an allseason tyre compared to a winter tyre

Comparing tyre characteristics: winter vs all-season tyres

Let’s state the facts: all-season tyres (also called all-year tyres) have a harder compound than winter tyres. And that’s what makes them more durable and less prone to wear than winter tyres. The hard compound also reduces the rolling noise. But they’re softer than summer tyres to better endure colder conditions. In turn they also sacrifice the durability of winter tyres for a better grip in summer. At low temperatures the compound actually hardens faster than that of winter tyres. So, driving with all-season tyres always means sacrificing braking and handling in extreme driving conditions. But they work well in average temperatures and light snow.

Unlike all-weather car tyres, winter car tyres endure temperatures below 7.0 °C. They remain supple, even in colder temperatures. On the other hand, they become even softer in temperatures above 7.0 °C. So, they cannot and should not be used in warm conditions. That's when they lose the driving characteristics that provide safety. Due to the soft density of the compound, winter tyres can grip better on snow and ice. This makes them seem louder than all-season or summer tyres. And they are quicker to wear, especially if used incorrectly. But drivers in mountainous or rural areas with a lot of snow and ice know they can rely on winter tyres.

Our Expert's Advice:

Barum Expert with finger-up gesture

We often hear the question when to switch to winter tyres. We advise to switch seasonal tyres when temperatures fall below 7.0 °C.

Comparing tyre performance: all-season vs winter tyres

As all-season tyres work all year-round, they combine the best of both, summer and winter tyres. That’s why all-season tyres have a longer braking distance than summer tyres on dry and wet ground. Still, the braking distance is shorter than that of a winter tyre. It’s the other way around for snow: While all-season tyres brake well on snow, they are not on par with winter tyres.

So, we know that winter tyres perform well on snow when braking and handling. But can you still use winter tyres all year?

Our Expert's Advice:

Barum Expert carrying a Tyre and winking

No, you shouldn’t use winter tyres all year. Unless you live in a region where it’s always cold with snow and ice. When using winter tyres in warmer months, you lose all the benefits of winter tyres. They are too soft to respond well to quick manoeuvres on dry or wet ground.

Where and in what temperatures are you?

Some countries have winter tyre laws in place. These regulate when to use winter tyres throughout a certain time of the year. Before deciding between all-season or winter tyres, check if there are local laws.

When your local laws permit either-or, you can continue to take a look at where you’re driving. Is it a more rural area? Or urban? The difference between the two is in the weather: Urban areas are prone to be warmer, so snow and ice are less likely. Also, cities are more likely to plough and sand their roads, and you’ll see less snow covering your routes.

While we’re at it, the weather makes a difference as well. Do you live and travel in a more mountainous area or somewhere mild? When you’re faced with extreme weather conditions, you should choose winter tyres. If the temperatures don’t drop below zero and you’re only driving across light snow, you can consider all-season tyres.

All-season vs winter tyres: Smart drivers save money

When all other points above are clear, it comes down to how much you’re willing to spend. With all-season tyres you’ll be saving storage and tyre changing costs – if you don’t happen to do these things yourself. Also, you won’t need to buy two sets of tyres, only one. All-season tyres are more expensive than a single set of seasonal tyres, but you only need one set instead of two. But keep in mind that you’ll have to replace them more often.

Our Expert's Advice:

Friendly Barum Expert with Clipboard in his Hand

The advantages of having two sets of seasonal tyres? It's their excellent performance and handling. It’s up to you what weighs more in your final decision for all-season or winter tyres.

All-season or winter tyres: The deciding factors at a glance

  • Grip: All-year tyres have less grip on snow and ice than winter car tyres.
  • Durability: Due to a harder compound, all-season tyres last longer vs winter tyres, though since they are driven year-round, they need to be replaced more often.
  • Rolling noise: Also due to the harder compound, all-season tyres are not as loud as winter tyres.
  • Temperatures: At low temperatures all-season tyres harden faster than winter tyres, winter tyres soften at 7.0 °C and above.
  • Weather conditions: Winter tyres are better suited for deep snow and icy conditions, while all-season tyres can handle light snow along with summer conditions.
  • Braking performance: On snow and ice, all-weather car tyres have a longer braking distance than winter tyres. However, in summer conditions, they are clearly superior to winter tyres – which should not be used all year round.
  • Laws: Some countries have defined winter tyres as mandatory; others have made them obligatory.
  • Costs: By only having one set of tyres, you save storage costs and the costs for a tyre change. On the other hand, due to using them year-round, you’ll need to replace them more often.
  • Time: With all-season tyres, you save the time of a tyre change.

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