Your ultimate guide to all season tyres
All the way back in 1977, Goodyear unveiled a tyre called the Tiempo. This was the first tyre to be referred to as 'all season’.
The concept was a very simple one: drivers no longer needed to switch from summer tyres to winter tyres as the seasons came and went, as they would be able to drive with just one set of tyres at all times of the year.
It was hailed as the tyre that "does it all". Providing traction for all weather and road conditions, the Tiempo's special rubber compound ensured an excellent grip on wet and rainy surfaces, and unlike any tyre that was on the market at that time, it could be used year-round. This saved on the costs of seasonal change-overs and provided reassurance to drivers living in areas that suffered from temperamental weather conditions.
Sales went through the roof and many other manufacturers quickly followed Goodyear’s lead by releasing their own all season tyres. Today, all season tyres account for the vast majority of tyres sold around the world and continue to provide a helpful compromise between winter and summer tyres.
‘All season’ and other tyre types
When it comes to the season, there are three tyre types to choose from; summer, winter and all season. Summer tyres are the standard tyre product that is fitted to a car during the summer and they are suitable for the warm temperatures between the months of March and October. Made from a softer compound than other types of tyres, summer tyres are able to grip warm dry roads perfectly, offering the driver excellent handling and steering characteristics.
Then we come to winter tyres, which are best suited to the winter months when the temperatures plunge below 7 degrees Celsius. Often referred to as ‘snow tyres’, they are made of a separate rubber compound which allows them to grip the road in snowy or icy conditions. Tiny grooves known as sipes cut across the tread pattern of the tyres and give them a better grip on snow and ice.
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The final type is known as the all season tyre. This is essentially an all-rounder which is able to grip the warm dry roads of summer in addition to working well on colder winter days. All-season tyres are a compromise between the previous two types of tyres and work well in all seasons and weather conditions. The rubber mix used in the manufacture of these tyres was designed to function well in temperatures both below and above zero degrees Celsius.
In countries with milder climates such as the UK, where the summers are rarely burning hot and the winters rarely see heavy prolonged snowfall, all season tyres are a good compromise. They also work very well in the wet.
UK winters do get below 7 degrees Celsius which is where the grip on summer tyres begins to deteriorate. As such, all season might be your best bet if you don't want to change tyres. It’s worth noting that all season tyres are best used in urban environments with little snow retention. All season tyres can work well on roads with a small dusting of snow, but anything heavier can end up being problematic.
All season tyres bear special marks. The most common is the symbol M+S (mud and snow) while you'll find other all season tyres with snowflake symbol. Some simply have the inscription ALL SEASON marked onto the side.
The advantages of all season tyres
All season tyres will provide the moderate driver with a more than acceptable level of performance throughout the year. The all season user will also be prepared for sudden cold spells as the rubber compound can survive below temperatures of 7 degrees. This versatility is one of the main attractions of the all season design. Other advantages include:
- Longer Tread-wear: All season tyres are designed to wear across the entire tyre at an even rate with the result that they last longer than many other tyres. And because you’ll be driving short distances in an urban environment, such tyres may actually grow old before they are worn down. Are you unsure what your tread depth is? Check out this article here.
- Cheaper Than Other Types: That’s right, these tyres are durable and more affordable. Due to the fact that these tyres are more popular than other types, the supply and demand mechanics work in favour of the purchaser. There are many excellent manufacturers from Pirelli and Falken to Bridgestone and Michelin trying to sell you their best all season offerings and that brings the prices down.
- Warranties: These tyres are meant to last and the manufacturers want you to know this. This the reason that they place up to 90,000 mile warranties on their tyres.
- Use the same set of tyres all year round: This prevents the driver having the hassle and cost of swapping and storing summer and winter tyres throughout the year.
- Better level of performance throughout winter than a standard summer tyre: due to the unique tread and groove pattern combined with the intermediate rubber compound.
- Better level of performance throughout summer than a specific winter tyre due to the tread providing improved handling on warm and dry roads.
- Ideal for the UK weather climate: due to the milder but inevitably wet weather.
Are they suitable for all cars?
All season tyres are suitable for the majority of what most of us would call ‘regular’ cars in the UK, including people carriers, hatchbacks, family cars, SUVs and most vans. However, you’ll find that compared to summer and winter tyres, all season tyres come in a more limited range of sizes.
People with high performance cars may find it harder to come by all season tyres in the sizes they need or the speed ratings that they require. If this is the case, then it is best to alternate between summer and winter tyres throughout the year.
It is worth remembering that like winter tyres, all season tyres must be fitted to all four wheels and not just the rear or front wheels. Unpredictable handling can result from cars that are fitted with different types of tyres on the front and back.
All season tyres in snow
These types of tyres can be described as a very precise and focused product. They are both versatile and durable, working perfectly to balance the needs of safety and performance. For the everyday driver out there they are a fantastic compromise, assuring safety in a wide range of weather conditions.
While their performance is never in doubt under wet and windy winter conditions, when the snow starts to fall heavily then it’s best to stay put. There is some misconception that all season tyres are suitable for snow. They are not. Let’s look at all season tyres vs winter tyres and see how they differ.
Winter tyres are best used on icy roads, in snowfall and in extreme wintry conditions. Snow tyres are great for people located in areas where snowfall is heavy. If you live away from a main road and don’t want to shovel your entire driveway you will require winter tyres to enable you to get out. They make driving safer on icy roads that have yet to be ploughed.
- Using winter tyres provides better braking performance in icy and snowy conditions.
- Winter tyres perform well in all kinds of wintry conditions including ice, snow, slush, sleet, wet and cold dry roads.
- They contain tread patterns which are designed specifically for snow and ice as well as other extreme wintry conditions.
- They are made of a rubber compound that remains flexible at low temperatures, enabling better vehicle control.
- The aggressive tread reduces the build-up of snow and the biting edges give greater traction on wet and icy roads.
All season tyres, in contrast, are great on wet and slippery roads, or if you want to head out on a summer getaway without having to worry about a sudden downpour. This also means they’re going to do fine on roads with a light covering of snow or slush. Don’t push things too far, however. A light dusting of snow is one thing, but if there is a heavy fall of snow and the roads haven’t been ploughed or gritted, then your all season tyres are going to struggle.
- Using all season tyres means you’re using tyres that are designed to perform well and provide traction in wet and snowy conditions.
- They are designed to provide even treadwear and stable handling in both dry and wet conditions.
- While all season tyres provide good traction in a range of weather conditions, winter tyres are better if you’re after traction in snow and ice.
- The tread life is normally longer for all season tyres than both summer and winter tyres.
- All season tyres are often quieter and more comfortable to drive with than both summer and winter tyres.
So as can be seen from the summary above, when you compare all season vs winter tyres there are a number of significant differences between them.
Are all season tyres for me?
There are a few factors you must take into consideration before you decide whether all season tyres are for you:
- Your Location: The laws in different countries vary with regard to winter tyres. In certain regions, such as Germany and Finland, it is mandatory to use winter tyres on snow or ice covered roads. For those in milder temperatures such as the UK, they are very rarely necessary. The first thing to do is to see if you are legally required to use winter tyres on snow covered roads in the country in which you live. If the answer is yes, then you have no option but to purchase winter tyres and use them every six months or thereabouts.
- Your Weather: If the regulations in your country don’t require you by law to use winter tyres but merely recommend you use them, then you will need to determine whether you need them or not. This will depend on the severity of the weather conditions in which you regularly drive. If winter conditions are harsh and result in frequent heavy snow, then it is probably wiser to opt for winter tyres during the winter months.
- Average mileage: If you live in a region where the temperatures in winter are not too low and you don’t drive huge distances too often then it is probably better value to continue using all season tyres. This means you avoid the inconvenience and added cost of swapping summer for winter tyres every six months.
Weighing up the pros and cons
- All season tyres can be used throughout the year, unlike winter tyres.
- All season tyres are better in wintry conditions than summer tyres, but not as effective as winter tyres on snow and ice.
- All season tyres don’t need to be changed every six months or so as the seasons change between winter and summer, resulting in lower costs.
- All season tyres are a compromise. They will never match the performance of winter tyres in wintry conditions and they won’t hold up to summer tyres in summery conditions.
Are All Season Tyres Legal in Germany?
It is important that you check your regional laws as to whether you should remove your all season tyres during the winter months. This varies from country to country in Europe. In milder western European countries such as France, Spain and the UK winter tyres are not mandatory, so there is no need to change your tyres come the winter months.
The further east you go, the more likely you are to enter countries where laws require you to change your tyres, either at a specific time of the year as in Sweden and Finland where tyres have to be changed automatically on the 1st of December or only during wintery conditions as in Germany. All season tyres in Germany are not legal if you are driving in very wintery conditions where a lot of snow has fallen. Failure to comply can lead to hefty fines for the driver if caught.
The Importance of Fitting the Correct All Season Tyre
Tyres are a critical safety component of your vehicle. Year round and in all weather conditions the correct tyres vastly improve your safety during acceleration, braking, steering and cornering. Despite this, they are one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of vehicle maintenance. When the air temperature drops to 7°C and below, typically between October and March, a standard summer tyre performs poorly with stopping distances significantly increasing. Overall, there are roughly six thousand more car accidents on UK roads in winter than there are in the summer.
Avoid being part of this statistic and reduce your chances of being in an accident with the all season tyres that best fit your vehicle.
Best All Season Car Tyres
Now that we've outlined everything you need to know about all them, which all season tyres should you choose? Let's take a look at some of the top performers.
Pirelli Scorpion Verde
Pirelli’s eco-friendly all season tyre was created for the drivers of SUVs, crossovers and high-performance pickups. Designed to give better fuel economy than its predecessor, the Scorpion Verde mixes reduced rolling resistance with longer treadwear, while maintaining all round traction in wintry, wet and dry conditions.
The tyre comes branded with the Eco-impact icon on its sidewall as cars with these tyres emit less carbon dioxide thanks to reduced rolling resistance. The unique tread design keeps drivers stable and provides for a good ride in rain and even off-road.
Michelin Cross Climate Plus
The Michelin Cross Climate Plus provides excellent grip on dry and wet roads and this is also approved for use in the snow. The grip-maximising compound provides flexibility to enable indentation in the ground, whatever the temperature may be. Rigid and bevel-edged tread block design improves dry braking performance. The full-depth 3D sipes offer long-lasting mobility on snow and self-lock for effective dry grip. As the tyre wears, emerging grooves open to providing long-lasting traction on snowy roads.
Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons Gen-2
Goodyear's Weather Reactive Technology helps the Vector 4Seasons adapt to seasonal changes. The unique SmartTRED design features specific tread zones that adjust to road conditions. A combination of the all-weather compound and flatter contour help to spread the pressure evenly, providing drivers with more mileage. High-density 3D waffle blades mean the Vector 4Seasons can offer excellent ice and snow traction. The Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons Gen-2 tyre is certified with the snowflake symbol as it meets the official standards of dedicated winter tyres.
Falken EUROALL SEASON AS200
The Falken EUROALL SEASON AS200, often referred to as ‘The absolute all-rounder’, provides good traction all year and short braking distances on snow. The EUROALL SEASON AS200 delivers a comfortable steering feel combined with convincing performance, stable directional control on wet roads, low tyre noise levels and its great comfort.
An Auto Build 2013 test winner, the Falken EUROALL SEASON AS200 also offers; optimised distribution of ground pressure, large contact area with the road, improved traction, reduced braking distance, excellent traction on ice and snow (M+S and snowflake symbols) and low rolling noise.
This tyre not only comes highly rated by Protyre, customers can also enjoy £10 off when they purchase two. Customer just simply need to enter the promo code FALKEN10 during the checkout process to take advantage of this offer.
Bridgestone Weather Control A001
The A001 has been developed for countries who experience moderate climates and wet winters such as; the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France, western Germany and Denmark. The new Bridgestone A001 offers drivers in these regions a confident, safe driving experience all year round.
Excellent front-rear balance, stable cornering and strong traction in both wet and dry ensures the tyre is dynamic and easy to drive. In the wet, specially designed lens-shaped blocks ensure smooth water evacuation with low water turbulence, reducing aquaplaning risk. With the A001 drivers don’t When winter does strike, the A001’s high-density siping has plenty of edge effect, providing excellent handling and braking on frozen and snowy roads. Bridgestone has also tuned the tread pattern for low noise and optimum road contact in all surface conditions.
Pirelli Zero Nero
The Zero Nero features a silica-enhanced tread compound, which is blended to provide traction in high temperatures in dry climates and low temperatures in the wet or light snow. The compound is shaped into an uneven tread pattern made up of outside shoulder blocks with siped, intermediate and centre ribs that improve footprint rigidity to increase dry grip throughout acceleration and braking. Shoulder grooves and channels let water slip through the tread pattern which improves wet traction. These tyres are great in off-road areas, but don’t perform so well on roads with a light layer of snow.
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S PLUS
Like the Pilot Sport model mentioned above, the Pilot Sport A/S PLUS is designed to deliver improved fuel economy, while guaranteeing heightened durability thanks to the C3M production process that is specific to the Michelin brand. High tensile steel cord belts intertwine throughout the tyres adding to the tough Michelin quality.
The A/S PLUS features advanced durability that focuses in on pressure points that become weakened when the air pressure decreases within the tyres. Even if you happen to drive your car for a number of weeks with decreased pressure, the sidewalls will retain their structural integrity thanks to this element.
Other Frequently Asked Questions Answered:
- Do my car tyres need balancing?
- How do I check my tyre pressure?
- The importance of Winter Tyres
- The Sidewall symbol mystery explained
Dean is a Regional Director for Protyre who is also responsible for the running of our Protech Academy. The ...