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Ask a Master Mechanic: Summer Tires vs. All-Season Tires

At Master Mechanic, when the temperature starts to rise, we often get a lot of inquiries about tires. One common misconception is that many people still believe summer tires and all-season tires are one in the same. There’s actually a pretty significant difference between the two!

Depending on your driving habits, what kind of car you drive, and the weather, there’s usually a clear-cut choice for you. We asked a Master Mechanic to explain the differences between all-season and summer tires so you can choose the best option.

All-Season Tires

All-season tires are designed to offer a balance of features that help with driving traction and performance in both wet and dry conditions. The name is a little misleading, however. While the tires perform adequately in all seasons, during extreme Canadian winter weather, they just don’t offer the performance needed.

Created for the “everyday driver,” all-season tires have higher tread depths. The rubber compounds commonly used in them are engineered to provide a longer tread life than dedicated summer tires.  They typically offer superior ride comfort, handling, and features suitable for most drivers’ everyday commute. They’re a more common option than summer tires since you can find all-season tires that will fit pretty much any make and model.

While all-season tires perform well in spring and summer weather, they offer less overall grip than dedicated summer tires.

What are Summer Tires or Performance Tires?

While people often confused them with all-seasons, summer tires are actually also called performance tires. They were first designed to be used as a high-performance tire for high-performance sports cars. When the temperature rises above 7° C, summer tires offer better grip, handling and braking than their all-season counterparts. Summer tires provide the best handling on warm, dry surfaces but are also well-suited for handling wet roads in warm temperatures, as well.  

This is usually because they have specific tread patterns, a shallower tread depth, and softer rubber compounds. These unique tread patterns and rubber formulas provide better grip because they put more rubber in contact with the road. However, softer rubber means they tend to wear out faster than all-season tires.

Choosing the Right Tire

When choosing between summer and all-season tires, think about your daily driving habits and performance needs. You should also check what types of tires your manufacturer recommends for your vehicle. Your local Master Mechanic can help with this!

All season tires are like a Jack-of-all-trades: they’ll give you decent performance in any weather–but exceptional performance in none.  You need to decide what’s most important to you. One thing we do recommend is to ensure all four tire types match (e.g. summer or all-season) and to follow your manufacturer’s recommended size, speed rating, and load capacity.

If you have any questions about what type of tires to get or want to schedule a tire rotation for spring, contact your local Master Mechanic today.

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