Are All Season Tires Really All Season?

Dear Tracy,Winter Driving
I recently moved from Florida to Kentucky. This will be the first winter that I will be experiencing driving in ice and snow. I am wondering if I need to get a set of snow or winter tires for the coming months. My car currently has a new set of all season tires installed – doesn’t that mean these tires are appropriate for driving in all seasons?
Sophia L.

Dear Sophia,
In moving from the sunshine state to bluegrass-country, you are undoubtedly in for a very different driving experience this winter! The mild weather you experienced in Florida probably never gave you the opportunity to navigate ice or snow covered roadways. Kentucky will most likely give you that chance on many occasions this winter.

Even though it would seem that all season tires should be suitable for driving in all seasons, they are not appropriate for driving in all types of weather conditions. While all season tires are designed to provide the best ride and comfort in a variety of temperatures, winter tires have specific features, developed for cold, snow, and ice. One basic difference in winter tires is that the rubber used in these tires is developed to grip better in low temperatures. Winter tires also feature small tread blocks and siping, which means that the treads are cut specifically for better traction and to prevent hydroplaning. Since the rubber used in winter tires is softer, it does wear more quickly, so winter tires may need to be every three or four seasons. It will be important to switch back to your all season tires as soon as spring returns.

It is definitely a good idea to invest in a good set of winter tires, especially if you are in a rural part of Kentucky that may not get roads treated as quickly as more populated areas. It is also important for safe winter driving to keep your tire pressure at the recommended levels.