Snow tires are comprised of rubber compounds that are softer then an average tire, allowing the tire to conform to the roads surface while retaining its flexibility in the cold. The rubber compounds found in the average tire often become hard and brittle in cold temperatures requiring tire repairs by the end of the season. The tread on winter tires are designed specifically to grip into the snow and ice. Grip is critical in order to ensure your car can steer and be able to stop without getting stuck.
All-season tires are designed to handle all kinds of road conditions and are made of a harder rubber compound for added durability but are not suitable for winter conditions. The rubber compounds used in all-season tires do not retain their flexibility in cold weather and their tread is not designed to grip in the snow. All season tires are designed to give a base performance throughout the year, neither being an excellent winter tire nor being an excellent summer tire. It is possible to use all-season tires throughout the winter but it is generally a better idea and much safer to have a designated set of winter tires.
Using winter tires throughout the year would not be such a great idea. Due to the softer rubber compounds of the tires, the rubber would end up wearing out much quicker then your average tire. It’s best to use the products as they are intended to gain optimal performance. According to recent studies between all-season tires and winter tires, collision avoidance can be improved by approximately 38% when using winter tires and braking improvement up to 25% over all-season tires.
When putting on snow tires it’s best to use all four tires rather then just a set of two. Putting the winter tires on just the front wheels of a front-wheel-drive vehicle could make the car spin out while cornering or braking. As for a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, putting a set of tires in the rear could cause issues with the front tires not gripping, resulting in unresponsive steering. In order to minimize possible road hazards, it would be best to use a set of all four winter tires.
Mounting and unmounting winter tires before the winter season and after the winter season may seem like a hassle right now but a short time of preparation can save you hours of worry, and possibly save you a trip to the salvage yard.