All-season tyres are designed to offer good performance throughout the year on a wide variety of surfaces and in all weather conditions.
They are targeted at motorists in countries that experience moderate climates, which makes them an attractive choice for UK vehicle owners.
A big advantage of all-season tyres, also known as all-weather and cross climate tyres, is that they will help to keep you safe on roads in all weathers, without the hassle of switching between winter and summer tyres.
How all-season tyres work
All-season tyres have been created from a new mix of compounds and innovations, with tyre manufacturers integrating the characteristics of both summer and winter tyres to deliver performance all year round.
Their intermediate compound means they can be used in both cold and mild temperatures. While they can cope with a few days of snow, they work well in cold and wet conditions and are less of a compromise than winter tyres in the summer months.
They also feature a complex tread pattern, which is more heavily siped than a summer pattern, but not as heavily siped as a winter tyre. This high-density siping is effective at helping the tread bite the surface of the road to give grip in freezing conditions for confident handling and braking on cold, frozen and snowy roads.
The benefits of all season tyres
- All-round performance - offering safety in winter and precision in the summer, so the weather never catches you by surprise
- Safety – lower risk of aquaplaning due to unique tread pattern; special tread blocks enhance dry braking performance for warmer conditions and sipes that provide interlocking grip in icy conditions
- Adaptability – reactive to fast-changing weather conditions
- Convenience – no need to switch back and forth between two sets of tyres. This is also particularly helpful if you don’t have anywhere to store your spare set
- Economical – cheaper option to buying a set of winter and a set of summer tyres
- Winter tyre law – many all-season tyres bear the same ‘M+S‘ and ‘Snowflake’ designations as winter tyres which means you can use them in countries where winter tyres are mandatory
The popularity of all-season tyres has grown steadily in recent years, with Goodyear, Michelin and Pirelli among the premium brand tyre manufacturers who have developed ranges.
Demand is expected to continue to rise, as there is a growing awareness and understanding of the importance of having tyres which can handle unpredictable changes between wet and dry conditions, sudden temperature changes and can even cope with snow.
However, there is no getting away from the fact that what you gain in convenience and versatility with an all-season tyre, you lose in all-round optimal performance when compared to a specialist winter or summer tyre.
Some experts consider them a “Jack of all trades, master of none”; while they are better in cold temperatures than a summer tyre, and vice versa, they are not as good as keeping two specialist tyres and switching between them from season to season. But this is too black and white, for while an all-season tyre will never be better than a good specialist winter or summer tyre, it still provides an impressive mix of strengths.
Are all-season tyres right for you?
The question of whether we need to use winter tyres in the UK is very hotly-debated. It really focuses around how much of the season you think you’ll spend below 7oC. If you find yourself below that temperature for most of the winter, then buying a separate set of winter tyres and changing them over every October and March is the optimum solution.
However, if you only ever get light or infrequent snowfall and the temperature rarely drops below freezing in winter, all-season tyres are definitely worth considering. Also, in particularly low temperatures and regularly snowy conditions, an all-season tyre is likely to wear quicker, ride less comfortably and be a lot noisier than a winter tyre.
At the end of the day, the all-season tyres are unlikely to be as good as the best summer tyre between the months of April to September or the best winter tyre from October to March, but they still provide a good mix of strengths in mild temperatures.
There is going to be a trade off in performance with regard to tyre handling, braking and traction in dry, wet and snow conditions. But there is no escaping the fact that the all-weather tyre can be expected to work better on wintry roads than a summer tyre and better on a summer road than a winter tyre.
Finally, if staying mobile is important to you, no matter what the weather has in store, all season tyres will be invaluable, particularly during the winter months. With the UK weather being so unpredictable, all-season tyres offer you the peace of mind of knowing your tyres can handle whatever conditions they face.
Think of it like this: you might choose to wear wellies in winter and sandals in the summer, but you can you can’t go wrong with shoes in any season!