What are All-Season Tires?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

All-season tires are tires which are designed to be left on a vehicle year-round. They are most suitable in temperate climates where the weather remains fairly stable, without any extremes. In areas where heavy snow and ice are common in the winter, it may not always be safe to use all-season tires, requiring car owners to install snow tires or winter tires during the winter months. For the most part, cars are sold with all-season tires installed, and when people buy new tires, it is usually assumed that they want all season models.

Putting chains on tires increases traction for driving on snow and ice.
Putting chains on tires increases traction for driving on snow and ice.

The advantage to using all-season tires is that they do not have to be changed to prepare for the winter, which cuts down on maintenance costs for the car. These tires also come in a range of styles, including sport and performance tires for sports cars, along with more generic low cost tires for basic sedans and wagons. All-season tires designed for trucks are also available.

It's not always safe to use all-season tires in areas that get heavy amounts of snow and ice in the winter.
It's not always safe to use all-season tires in areas that get heavy amounts of snow and ice in the winter.

The primary drawback to all-season tires is that they may not perform as well during winter. Specialized traction which helps cars navigate wet, muddy, icy, or snowy roads can hinder vehicle performance during other months, making it impractical on all-season tires. As a result, cars can be more prone to slipping and spinning out of control on winter roads with all-season tires, especially if drivers are going out shortly after a major storm, or driving before road crews have had a chance to clear the roads.

Tires should be routinely inspected for thread wear.
Tires should be routinely inspected for thread wear.

One compromise used by drivers in snowy areas is snow chains. Snow chains can be fitted over all-season tires to allow people to drive on snow. Fitting chains is easier and more convenient than changing tires for the winter, and people may be required to use chains or snow tires in certain areas during the winter due to safety concerns.

Performance ratings for all-season tires vary. Many manufacturers have basic guidelines which recommend when the tires should be changed and rotated; as a general rule, the more expensive the tires, the longer they last, although some performance tires can be quite costly and surprisingly short lived. However, drivers shouldn't go by manufacturer's recommendation alone. They should regularly inspect their tires for wear, pay attention to the sensor systems in the vehicle which provide feedback about tire performance, and replace tires which are worn or damaged. Driving on tires with very little tread left can be extremely hazardous, and cars with tires near the end of their lifespan may not pass safety inspections.

All-season tires can easily be put on or removed with the use of a simple car jack.
All-season tires can easily be put on or removed with the use of a simple car jack.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@JimmyT - I have to completely agree with you. With the advances in tire technology there is almost no reason to have seasonal tires simply because the costs do not justify the means.

If you have two sets of tires that you change out during the seasons you first have to pay for both sets of tires, doubling your costs, and then you have to pay a mechanic to install them.

Even if you know how to change tires, that means that you have to go through the effort to change a tire by yourself four times, as opposed to just once. It takes enough time to change one tire and just think, with seasonal tires you have to change tires eight times throughout the year unless you pay a mechanic to do so. Either way you will waste time or money with seasonal tires so it only makes sense to use all weather tires.

All weather tires are underrated as far as performance goes and I think that they perform well in wintery conditions. They may not be as good as winter seasonal tires, but they get the job done and perform well enough under these conditions to justify saving the costs of only buying this particular set of tires.


@jcraig - I feel like there is almost no reason to buy seasonal tires anymore.

All season tires nowadays are designed in such a way that they can in fact handle slick winter weather conditions as well as normal clear weather driving during the summer. Due to the quality of these tires it only makes sense to save the money you have and simply buy them so you do not have to spend so much on getting two sets of tires or the money it takes to pay a person to install them.


@stl156 - Exactly. I remember those days and am absolutely glad that I do not have to change my tires ever time the weather turned. The best part about all weather tires is that you are able to shop a lot more for tires as opposed to settling on tires that only reflect the season.

Say you are shopping for tires in August due to a recent flat. In a couple months you are going to have to switch out those tires for winter tires and this causes two excessive costs in a short amount of time.

All season tires help save costs and are durable enough that you do not have to pay for new tires for a long time. This saves mechanic costs installing the tires as well as the time it takes to shop around for the appropriate tires.


Ah, I remember the good old days when you had to put chains on your tires or completely change your tires for the winter.

It was such a darn inconvenience to change tires every year and it was not until technological advances in tire technology that the tire buying public was finally able to obtain and use tires that could last the entire year.

Best thing about all year tires is that if I were to have a flat I could just buy whatever tires I need as replacements and not have to worry about what season it is.

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