Winter Tires VS All-Season Tires

Winter Tires Vs All-Season Tires

The Difference Between All-Season & Winter Tires


Would you like to know the real difference between winter and all-season tires? Which is more effective, and when is it best to use each type? Well, keep reading, and we will briefly walk you through a comparison of these types of tires.

In Ontario, we experience various driving conditions every season, from random ice storms in the spring to torrential downpours in the summer and harsh icy/snowy winters. As a result, it's crucial to understand the difference between winter & all-season tires, when they are most effective, and why they are, so you can feel confident all year long behind the wheel.

Understanding The Main Differences

All-Season Tires

Though these tires are advertised for "all" seasons, they truly are three-season tires, but how odd would it be to call them that. All-season tires were really designed to handle the seasons of warner climate zones, not our cold Canadian winters.

Anyways, all-season tires are different for these key reasons. They are created using a more artificial rubber that allows them to last longer and not lose their form in hot weather. These tires are usually best for above 7 degrees Celsius temperatures, anything below that, and they become hard and get less traction. Another key difference is the tread style which is usually smooth and straight to help repel water when driving in the rain and provides a better grip on the road during warm to hot conditions.

Therefore, these tires are best used for the spring, summer, and fall seasons when in wet, dry, and warm conditions. See When Do I Change My Tires below for more information on when to plan your seasonal tire swap.

All Season Tire

Winter Tires

Luckily, winter tires were named better, so we already know their primary purpose is to be used during the winter season. However, understanding how they are different may help you understand why all-season tires aren't sufficient for Canadian winter.

Firstly, these tires are made with more natural rubbers, which allows them to remain soft and get a better grip on the road. Therefore, they are best for below 7 degrees Celsius temperatures and should be used in cold, icy, slushy and snowy conditions. Like all-season tires, winters also have a unique tread, which make a massive difference in how the tire gets traction and displaces water. In this case, blocky tread with fine slits helps grip snow & push away slush to allow for the best traction and shortens braking distances by as much as 25%. Winter tires and the traction they provide can also enhance other vehicle features, such as traction control, vehicle stability assists, all-wheel drive, and anti-lock braking systems.

Therefore, these tires are best used for the early spring, winter, and late fall seasons when temperatures are 7 degrees or lower. See When Do I Change My Tires below for more information on when to plan your seasonal tire swap.

When Do I Change My Tires?

As we've already discussed, the temperature has a considerable effect on our tires' effectiveness. More specifically, if the average temperature is 7 degrees C or higher, you should swap to all-season tires, and when it drops below 7 degrees C, it's time for winter tires.

Since Ontario is such a large province, when you need to switch to winter tires depends on the area you live in and when the temperature is averaging below 7 degrees C. Usually, this is sometime between late October to mid-November. 

Another thing to keep in mind is when your insurance company requires winter tires to be installed by to receive a 5% discount on your insurance premium (percent discounts vary depending on your provider.)


When Do You Swap Your Tires

Identifying Your Tire Type

Winter Tires:

  • Look for this symbol
  • Check the tread - look for a rough pattern often with small holes or slits designed for gripping ice and snow

All-Season Tires:

  • Notice the missing symbol and usually says ALL SEASON on the side
  • Tread will blocks separated by grooves designed for pulling water away from the tire
Winter Tire Icon Ontario