Summer tires vs. all-season tires: which are better?

Summer is on the horizon, and with it, the usual tire swap. Are you wondering what type of tire you should choose for the summer season? On the market, you’ll find various available models, including summer tires and all-season tires.

While you can use either type of tire all summer long, you’d be mistaken if you thought they were the same. Each one has its own unique features, so you need to know a little more about what differentiates them in order to arrive at the right decision.

Summer tires vs. all-season tires: what’s the difference?

Many people believe that summer tires and all-season tires are the same, but the reality is that they’re quite different. In fact, depending on what type of vehicle you drive, the way you drive and the climate in your area, one or the other may present certain advantages and disadvantages.

To help you choose the tire that will best suit your needs, it’s best to base your choice on certain specific criteria, including the following:

  • Durability (resistance to wear and tear)
  • Handling
  • Stability around curves
  • Traction on wet and dry pavement
  • Resistance to hydroplaning
  • Driving comfort
  • Budgetary concerns

Summer tires: geared for performance

If handling is an essential criterion, you should opt for tires designed for the summer season. Perfect for sports cars and luxury vehicles, this type of tire offers a smooth ride and optimal traction on wet pavement. The optimized tread patterns and rubber components offer maximum precision and flexibility. Because the tread isn’t particularly deep, it provides greater stability at high speeds.

Very responsive, summer tires offer enhanced cornering and braking capability, enabling you to travel at high speeds while maintaining maximum agility.

However, you must bear in mind that the efficiency of summer tires diminishes once temperatures fall below 7° C. That’s why you have to be careful once fall arrives and the threat of frost or unexpected snowfall becomes imminent. The rubber used in summer tires is very poorly suited to cold temperatures. Another fact to bear in mind: these tires tend to be a bit noisier than all-season tires.

All-season tires: safe and versatile

All-season tires are both practical and secure, with the ability to adapt to a wide variety of different conditions. You can use them in both cold weather and warm weather, in which they offer excellent traction.

We should clarify that all-season tires would be more aptly named “3-season tires,” considering that winter tires are mandatory in Quebec between December 15 and March 15. Therefore, the ideal time to use all-season tires would be during any season except winter. Since our Canadian winters are very harsh, these tires are not recommendable once the climate becomes too cold. Here again, 7° C is a good cut-off point. Below this temperature, the material used in all-season tires tends to become rigid, increasing braking distance and decreasing traction.

Therefore, all-season tires are preferable in climates that only exhibit slight fluctuations in temperature. They offer satisfactory results under a variety of different circumstances, with the exception of very cold weather. If that’s okay with you, all-season tires offer a good compromise!

Summer tires or all-season tires: how to make the right choice

In the end, what type of tires should you choose? Unless you’re a very demanding driver or you own a sports car or luxury vehicle, you should probably opt for all-season tires, as they’re safer if you don’t have time to change your tires before the first snowflakes of fall. However, if you strive for excellence and want to enjoy a remarkable driving experience, tires designed specifically for the summer season will certainly live up to your expectations.

How to find the best summer tires

Have you opted for summer tires but you’re wondering how to narrow down your search to find the best tire on the market? If you want to find tires that will deliver on their promises, you need to consider a number of characteristics. Here are some of them:

  • Quality
  • Traction
  • Useful life
  • Drivability
  • Braking capacity
  • Fuel consumption
  • Tire noise
  • Dimensions (must be the same as the tires they’re replacing)
  • Tolerance of temperature fluctuations and rain
  • Speed rating (optimal speed they can maintain without risk of overheating)

With regard to a tire’s speed rating, the higher it is, the more expensive the tire will be. Before simply opting for the lowest-priced tires, bear in mind that your vehicle is designed to use a particular type. If your goal is to maximize performance, comfort and efficiency, you’re better off respecting the manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of speed rating.

How to know if your tires are too worn

Inspecting your tires is important because it lets you know if they need replacing. It’s a question of safety! In addition to a speed rating, tires always have tread wear indicators. You’ll recognize them as those little raised bars of rubber at the bottom of the tire’s grooves. When the tread wears down to the level of the indicator bars, it’s time to get rid of the tire.

Do you need advice to help you choose the right tires for summer?

Come see the team of specialists at Trans-Mico Automotive. In addition to full general mechanical and automobile transmission services, you’ll get valuable advice to help guide you in your search for the best summer or all-season tires!


THE CAR GUIDE. How To Choose A Summer Tire: Which All-Season Is Right For You?
LE DEVOIR. Comment choisir ses pneus d’été? [How to choose your summer tires]