Dec 22, 2022
All tires are purpose-built. Walk along the aisles of our Tire Capital showroom and you’ll see just how different they are, from the tread design to the sidewall. Even the type of tread compound makes a big difference. Before you face the winter in a set of all-season tires, it’s important to understand the difference between all-season and winter tires, and what kind you need to safely navigate the rain, snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.
All-season tires are designed for a smooth, quiet ride in most conditions. Many all-season tires do great in the rain and bare pavement year-round. While a set of all-season tires can offer some traction in light snow, they’re not designed for deep snow, ice, and cold weather.
The M+S marking was introduced in the 1970’s to distinguish tires with extra mud and snow traction from tires with ribbed treads, common in that era.
For a tire to have the “M+S” grading and stamp on the sidewall, it had to have a particular style of block tread pattern and more traction capabilities. By today’s tire performance standards, the standards for this classification is actually quite low, particularly for typical winter driving conditions like packed snow and ice, however the “M+S” certification system has become the benchmark to help the average tire buyer, and law enforcement determine if a tire even a basic level of snow traction.
A year-round alternative has emerged in the past two decades: the all-weather tire. Certified with the three-peak mountain snowflake but designed for year-round use, all-weather tires provide better snow grip and handling than all-season (M+S) tires, while maintaining similar spring and summer performance levels of all-season tires, such as good wet grip and wear properties.
All-weather products aren’t an adequate substitute for dedicated winter tires in extreme winter conditions, but they’re a better answer for drivers who prefer not to change over from season to season.
Premium all-weather tires achieve superior winter performance by having modified compounds and specialized tread patterns. Their ability to navigate winter roads isn’t just another feature; it’s a defining characteristic that sets all-weather products apart from all-season.
All-weather tires also rely on a compounding dual-performance rubber mixture flexible enough to handle temperatures much colder than an all-season tire, but durable enough to provide better tread life in warm weather.
Newer models of winter/snow tires are manufactured using specialized rubber compounds that remain flexible in lower temperatures. They typically contain substances like silica to offer better grip. This enhanced traction and flexibility helps the tire to stick the road in inclement conditions.
Their treads are designed to cut through the thin layer of water on the road caused by heat melting the ice. The tiny grooves in the tires are known as ‘sipes’. They move the water away from the front of the tire keeping the tire’s contact with the road consistent. This action is what prevents vehicles from hydroplaning.
Siping can be confusing and when you look at a variety of tires . Sipes are the little cuts that go across the tread of the design. Sipes are extremely important when looking at tires. You will notice in premium products you can actually see the sipes go the full depth of the tire tread.