What's the difference between summer tires and all-season tires?

The dealer I’m talking to about a new car says the all-season tires are a good thing. I heard summer tires are better for performance. I live in the South, though, where we just get rain. Which should I go with?

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Summer tires — often called high-performance tires — are better for, not surprisingly, performance driving, but they’re going to wear out faster than all-season tires — and they typically cost more, too. Summer tires are made from a softer rubber that does a better job of gripping the road, which improves handling, braking and acceleration. These “sticky” tires can improve the performance of any car, but we’ve seen summer tires wear out as early as 9,000 miles when driven hard. Because of their tread pattern, they also handle wet roads quite well. An example is shown at right below.

All-season tires are designed to handle any type of weather; unlike summer tires, they won’t leave you spinning in the snow. Even if you don’t have to deal with snow, all-season tires will last longer and give you the security of knowing you can handle the worst weather during road trips. They also regain traction better than summer tires on slick roads or over dirt or sand-covered patches. With the exception of high-performance cars, most new cars come from the factory with all-season tires that can last more than 50,000 miles with proper care. An example is shown at left below.


There’s no question the practical choice is a set of the all-seasons; still, the speed demons out there who can afford it — and, like you, live in a place without snow — can definitely go the high-performance route.

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Answered by Joe Bruzek on April 26, 2007 in What Does This Mean? | Permalink

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