All-season tyres - are they better value than winter tyres?
Most people know about winter tyres, although they rarely give them much thought until they’re stuck in ice or snow.
That’s the time drivers might start thinking ‘should have put winter tyres on this year’.
People who drive buses, lorries, cans and even taxis for a living, of course, are much more likely to take proper winter precautions.
That’s because winter tyres give better traction on the road surface, expel ice and snow from the tyre and can cope better with the rapid expulsion of water caused by rain or puddles, all of which reduced braking distance.
They really can be a life-saver in bad weather.
However, they can be a bit of a pain because you have to change tyres, store them somewhere, and then change back again in the spring.
There is another solution, and that’s all-season tyres.
A survey for Falken tyres suggested cost and perceived milder climate puts many drivers off buying winter tyres:
- 25% thought the cost is too high
- 20% believed the weather is too mild in the UK to need them
- 19% said it is too much hassle to change.
“The results surprised us, particularly the belief that the UK climate was sufficiently mild enough not to need cold weather tyres,” said Falken’s Matt Smith. The company introduced an all-weather tyre called the Falken Euroall AS200.
As with everything in life, no solution is perfect and there are pros and cons. Here, we look at those.
What are all-season tyres?
Also known as all-weather, or four-season, tyres, these are tyres specially designed for use in countries with moderate weather conditions all year round. Just like Britain and Ireland, in fact.
Countries characterised by mild summers and less severe winters (cold and wet, with occasional snow) are perfect for all-season tyres.
How do all season tyres work?
Simply put, they combine properties of both summer and winter tyres.
The aim of this is to create a balanced approach that gives good year-round performance in a variety of conditions.
They might have to cope with a difference in temperature that might be up to 30 degrees Centigrade in summer to -15 degrees Centigrade in winter.
That’s a spread of 45 degrees, so there has been lots and lots of research to get the mix right.
The rubber in the tyre compound is described as ‘intermediate’ – i.e. it is sufficient to provide traction on warm, dry summer roads but is less susceptible to the hardening effect freezing conditions have on summer tyres (this generally happens under 7 degrees Centigrade, actually).
Additionally, all-season tyres have different tread patterns to their summer and winter cousins, with grooves to help combat aquaplaning and higher-density ‘sipes’ (thin slits that provide interlocking grip in ice and snow).
Do they perform as well as, say, winter tyres?
No, winter tyres are specialised; all-seasons will perform better in winter than a summer tyre, and better in summer than a winter tyre. But they aren’t as good as summer tyres in summer and winter tyres in winter.
What are the benefits of all-season tyres?
- Upfront cost: winter tyres generally don’t cost much more than normal tyres, but you do have to fork out upfront for an extra set of tyres initially (your summer tyres will last longer though)
- Fitting cost: Some outlets will fit for ‘free’ if you buy the tyres from them, others will charge
- Storage cost: If you buy from some retailers, they will store your tyres for free. Others, however, might charge around £7 per tyre
- Space saving: storing winter/summer tyres eats up space. Remember to never stack more than four tyres, and if you’ve got small kids, I would stack less in case they topple.
- Less hassle: No need to change tyres for different seasons.
Can all-season tyres save you money?
Yes and no. Yes, as mentioned above, if you do opt for winter/summer tyres and end up paying for storage and fitting. However, they tend to be a little bit more expensive than normal summer tyres.
When should you fit all season tyres?
They can be fitted at any time of the year; but if winter is approaching and your tyres are needing changed, then would be the logical time.
Your local garage or tyre depot will fit them. They are also available from big chains like Halfords and Kwik Fit.
Well-known brands include Michelin, Continental, Pirelli, Goodyear, Falken and many more.
Belfast Telegraph Digital