All season tyres vs summer tyres

Summer and all-season tyres

Summer tyres are dedicated for weather conditions in the months from spring to fall.Summer tyre use is limited by temperatures:if it falls below 7 degrees, they lose their traction.

All-season tyres are universal tyres that combine the characteristics of summer and winter tyres.Combining these characteristics is always a huge challenge.Each tyre is a compromise of performance, which has to meet the users’ needs.But this compromise gets harder the more varied the conditions are.

All season tyres vs summer tyres - differences

Summer and all-season tyres differ in tread pattern, rubber compound and shape.

The tread on an all-season tyre has more sipes than the summer tyre.The sipes are meant to provide better snow performance.But in the summer, a tread with too many sipes loses its stiffness.This has a negative impact on grip:braking and traction on dry and wet surfaces get worse.

There are three possible tread types both in all-season and in summer tyres:symmetrical, asymmetrical and directional.


All season tyres vs summer tyres.Left: all-season tyre, right: summer tyre.

Directional patterns in all-season tyres have clearly defined functions of certain parts of the tread.The shoulder usually has less sipes – summer function, while the central parts has more sipes to provide grip in winter.

Asymmetrical tread patterns in all-season tyres allow for introducing elements for summer and winter driving.This usually means there is a summer and a winter side of the tread.Usually, the outside have the more summer-oriented characteristics.

Rubber compounds used in all-season tyres are meant to provide acceptable performance in both negative and positive temperatures.The summer tyre compound is uncompromising – it has to provide performance only in temperatures above 7 degrees.That is why, as temperature rises, all-season tyres cannot match the performance of specialised summer tyres.


All season tyres vs summer tyres.  An all-season tyre with clearly defined winter (outside) and summer (inside) parts.

The shape of the tyre means the outline of its cross-section.This contour is visible when you look at the tyre straight on.The outline of the tyre also determines the size of its contact patch, which makes it very important for grip.

The outline of a summer tyre is more rounded, which lowers the rolling resistance and provides improved grip in summer weather conditions.The outline of the all-season tyre is more massive and square, so it resembles the outline of a winter tyre.Huge shoulders provide good grip in the winter, but only increase tread wear and fuel consumption in the summer.

What are the markings on summer and all-season tyres?

Summer tyres don’t have special markings concerning the season for their use.

All-season tyres are marked M+S (mud and snow).This is a marking used on all-season tyres for American market.In Europe, all-season tyres are closer to the winter tyres and are marked with a tri-peak and a snowflake.An all-season tyre often has the words ALL SEASON written next to these symbols.Some manufacturers use their own, additional symbols to show that their tyre can be used all year round, in various weather conditions.


All season tyres vs summer tyres.  Symbols on all-season tyres.

All season tyres vs summer tyres tests

All-season tyres are more often compared in tests to winter tyres than to summer tyres.Tests (such as ADAC or AutoBild) have show, that all-season tyres rank lower than good seasonal tyres, while good all-season tyres are often better than the cheapest seasonal tyres (such as cheap Chinese products).

As a rule, all-season tyres rank lower than good summer tyres.This can be seen in dry performance tests, both in braking and handling categories (e.g. in the 2009 AutoBild tests of 205/55R16 tyres).Summer tyres win thanks to their rubber compounds and tread patterns.

Some all-season models, such as Vredestein Quatrac 3 or Dunlop SP 4 All Seasons, appear high in wet surface performance tests, especially in aquaplaning category.Even though they are still worse than good summer tyres, they may be superior to numerous lower-class products (especially the cheapest Chinese brands).

Advantages of using all-season tyres

All-season tyres should provide an acceptable level of performance throughout the whole year, especially with moderate usage.With all-season tyres, you will always be prepared for sudden winter or cold spells in spring.That's why their main advantage is their versatility.

All-season tyres also don't require changing, so you don't have to visit the tyre shop so often.This saves you time and money, but you have to remember about balancing your wheels once in a while.

A set of good, brand-name all-season tyres may be a better solution than a set of the cheapest seasonal ones.This solution makes sense if your mileage is low (less than 5-6 thousand kilometres per year) and you mainly drive around the city.

Why?Driving short distances around the city, you will not wear down your seasonal tyres to the point where they lose their properties.Such tyres will grow old before they are worn.You should also bear in mind, that urban conditions are rarely extreme.It is much better to replace a set of all-season tyres after 4-5 years and 40 thousand km than use the same two sets of summer and winter tyres for 10 years.

Advantages of using summer tyres

The biggest benefits of using summer tyres, as compared with all-season tyres, are their performance characteristics.This argument is irrefutable.Tyres have a paramount influence on your car’s safety.Each tyre is a compromise, but this compromise is much wider in all-season tyres:they have to combine properties required for both winter and summer driving.


All season tyres vs summer tyres.  A summer tyre’s tread

When comparing the best summer tyres with the best all-season tyres, the summer ones are unrivalled on both dry and wet roads.They will brake better, provide better handling and traction, higher comfort and lower noise, while being more fuel-efficient.
Summer tyres are also more durable than all-season tyres.Durability becomes especially important with bigger mileages. Moreover, all-season tyres are much more expensive than summer tyres in the same class or from the same manufacturer.

You should also remember, that having a middle- or high-class vehicle should oblige you to buy summer tyres.Only specialised summer tyres can cope with the performance and requirements of modern cars.

Which tyres should I choose?Summer or all-season?

Choose summer tyres if you:

  • drive more than 5-6 thousand kilometres a year
  • drive mostly outside of cities or in mixed conditions (cities – motorways)
  • need maximum safety
  • value comfortable and quiet driving
  • want your tyres to have the smallest influence on your fuel consumption
  • look for durable tyres
  • drive dynamically

Choose all-season tyres if you:

  • drive all year on summer or winter tyres
  • drive no more than 5-6 thousand kilometres a year
  • drive mostly in the city
  • drive calmly

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Thank you

Re: All season tyres vs summer tyres
Jaz 21/10/2012 Answer

Thanks a lot for helpful information.

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