What are all-season tyres?
Updated 10 Oct 2019
Ever heard the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’? Well, that basically sums up the all-season tyre.
Also referred to as all-weather tyres, all-season tyres combine properties of the more specialised summer and winter tyres and use a rubber compound and tread design that is designed to deliver good all-round performance in dry, wet, cold or hot conditions.
Each category or class of tyre is made to a certain specification in order to perform correctly in certain conditions and it’s not possible to get perfect performance in all weather conditions out of one tyre. There will always have to be some compromises. Enter the all-season tyre.
Because they are designed to deliver solid performance across a range of conditions, all-season tyres don’t offer the absolute best performance in any one class and are most appropriate in areas where the weather does not go from one extreme to the other.
For example, if you live in an area that has mild summers but very cold and snowy winters, then you most likely need to change to winter or even snow tyres when winter hits.
We can look at motor racing for an extreme example of where different tyres are used for different conditions.
When conditions are dry, race cars will go out on a full slick tyre. These tyres have no grooves or tread patterns on them as the aim is to achieve maximum contact with the surface of the track to achieve maximum grip.
For dry conditions, these tyres provide the absolute best performance. However, if it starts to rain heavily, you’ll see racing teams fit a different kind of tyre, known as the wet tyre. These tyres resemble the kind that you find on road-going passenger cars and have large grooves in them that enable the tyre to disperse water. Once again, they’re looking for maximum grip and to do that they need to move the water that's sitting on the track away from the tyre. For wet conditions, these tyres provide the best performance.
In Formula One racing, teams also use a tyre called the Intermediate. This tyre is as close as they get to an ‘all-season’ tyre. It still retains large, grippy contact patches like a dry tyre but also utilises smaller, angled grooves like a full wet tyre to disperse very light amounts of water that may be on the track. This tyre is not grippy or fast enough for dry weather conditions and it’s not effective enough at dispersing large amounts of waters in full wet conditions. It is, however, the perfect in-between tyre.
If we translate that into everyday road use, all-season tyres are our intermediates, offering decent performance in a variety of conditions while not offering the absolute best in anything too extreme.
Pros and cons of all-season tyres
- Versatile and offer good performance in a range of conditions
- No need to change tyres between seasons
- Decent tread life
- Don’t offer the same levels of performance of specialised tyres in areas of extreme heat or cold
The right tyre for you depends on where you live (city or country, for example), the climate, what performance you expect or want and, of course, your budget. Take these factors into consideration but also take the time to consult with a tyre expert at your local tyre fitment shop and/or retailer.
Part of what they do is to help car owners understand what tyre is suitable for their car and their style of driving. That’s a resource you shouldn’t ignore.
On weekdays Rowan can be found in the AutoGuru office, driving content and growth with the rest of the marketing team.
On weekends you’ll probably find him in the garage with his father restoring a 1958 Ford Star Model Customline or enjoying a cruise through the Gold Coast hinterland on his Suzuki GSX-R600.
Despite his passion for being behind the wheel (or handlebars), he looks forward to the day when he can commute to work in his own driverless car.