Why are there ☀️ and ❄️ tires?


So why is it that we change our car tires for winter and summer? Someone told me the winter tires have a sturdier profile so you don’t slide as easy in snow but why can’t we just leave them on during summer as well? Why different tires for different seasons?

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most people don’t need to change tires for summer and winter. there are “all-season” tires that are average for both summer and winter. unless you live in an area that has a ton of snowfall and you can’t reliability count on roads being plowed all the time, then all season tires are fine for both summer and winter.

the summer tire is a tire design that maximizes grip in dry conditions (and sucks in wet or snow).

the winter tire is a tire design that maximizes grip in wet/snow conditions (but wears out much faster in dry conditions).

the all season tire is a tire that sort of balances attributes in both. it gives better traction in wet/snow compared to summer tires and isn’t as good as winter tires in wet/snow. it has a longer tread life in dry conditions vs winter tires, but doesn’t give as much traction compared to summer tires.

Rubber gets harder when its colder. Harder they are, the less traction they provide. To a point, you don’t want them too squishy either. Summers are made of a firmer rubber to stay firm enough in the 30 C summer, but they get too hard below 5 C, so we put winters on which are softer compared to summers but in 5C or less, stay soft enough.

One difference is how soft the rubber is – winter tires are slightly softer, allowing them to grip a bit better when cold. You could use them in the heat of the summer, but you’d wear them out much more quickly.

Winter tires often make more road noise as well, and it’s a bit of a pain to listen to if you don’t need them.

Winter tires have better traction in cold temperatures, as well as wet/snowy/icy conditions.

Summer tires have better traction in warmer weather, tend to be a smoother ride which also translates to (marginally) better mileage/

All-season tires are a balance between the two.

Can you leave winter tires on all year? Yes, but they’ll be a less comfortable+efficient ride and have worse traction.

Two main reasons.

1) The rubber get softer when it’s hot and harder when it’s cold, if it’s too hard or too soft the grip of the tire won’t be right and this would also lead to damaging your tire more quickly, having to buy new tires more often. Winter tire have a softer rubber so that it’s optimal at lower temperature, while summer tire are harder so they don’t become too soft during hot temperature.

2) The design is also different. Winter tire have deeper grooves and sharp edges for better grip on snow, slush and ice. Summer tire have a mix of shallow and deep grooves for good traction on different type of road, and able to evacuate water from under it.

Summer and all-seasons tires are closer in design, it’s mostly the rubber than is different since all-seasons need to be have a decent balance of softness/hardness at different temperature. If the difference in temperature between summer and winter isn’t too big and snow/ice isn’t too much of a problem, then all-seasons tire will do the job. But otherwise you need winter tires otherwise you just won’t have enough traction to stay on the road in some situation.