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Summer, winter and all-season tires?

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Confused about what tires you need? Stay safe on the roads whatever the weather with this guide to using the right tires for every season.

The difference between summer tires, all season tires and winter tires 

What are summer tires?

Summer tires are designed to be used during warmer months when temperatures often reach 40°C for occasional or even extended periods of time, or throughout the year in places without winter weather. With a shallower tread pattern and a stiff, sticky tread compound that offers excellent grip on dry and wet surfaces, summer tires are specifically designed to deliver optimal performances in temperatures above 7°C. They maximize precise handling and make sure you’re as stable as possible when turning corners or braking.  

Winter tires and summer tires have different tread patterns

What are winter tires?

Winter tires are the opposite – these are specifically designed for safe driving in temperatures below 7 °C, and severe conditions such as ice and snow. Compared to summer tires, winter tires have a distinctive tread pattern with deeper, more numerous notches to improve traction on snow and ice. They’re also made of a more supple material, helping them stay soft enough to grip the road even in freezing temperatures. 

What are all-season tires?

All-season tires or 4-season tires as they are also commonly known, combine technologies from summer and winter tires and can be used all year round. They have more notches in the tread pattern than summer tires, making it easier for them to grip snowy roads, while also being able to adapt to hotter temperatures. These are the easiest options if you live somewhere with mild summers, mild winters and occasional snowfall. All-season tires guarantee mobility and safety for temperatures ranging from -10 °C to +30 °C. (Learn more about all-season tires)

Summer tires versus winter tires

Although they may seem similar, using a winter tire in summer is not recommended, as the softer tread will wear down quicker on warm tarmac. Optimal handling will also be reduced, extending the stopping distance of your vehicle, and you’re likely to find yourself with increased fuel consumption too.

Equally, using summer tires in winter is not recommended, as these tires are not designed to withstand cold temperatures. Without the deeper tread and additional grooves of winter tires, summer tires can struggle to grip the roads in icy or snowy weather. Driving in snow with summer tires fitted on your vehicle can increase your braking distance to two times longer than if you had certified winter tires. Their tread compound naturally stiffens in freezing temperatures, increasing the risk of skidding or slipping on winter roads. This stiffness can also lead to damage on the tire itself, as without the necessary elasticity the rubber can crack and chip.

And what is the difference between summer and all-season tires? If you have to choose between the two, check out this article.


Relative performance of Michelin’s summer tires, winter tires and all-season tires

Michelin CrossClimate+ performances compared to Michelin Pilot Sport 4 and Michelin Alpin 5
sport4 vs ccplus alpin5

The Michelin Primacy 4 and Pilot Sport 4 summer tires perform best on dry and wet roads during hot weather. They have an excellent lifespan, as can be expected from the Michelin brand.

The Michelin CrossClimate+ tires are all-season tires which perform well in both summer and winter, even in snow. Their durability is on par with that of summer tires, making them the leader in this category.

The Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 winter tires are the best-performing tires for adverse winter weather, including snowy and icy conditions.

When to switch winter tires with summer tires 

Depending on the weather conditions where you live, the general rule is that you should change your summer tires to winter once the temperature consistently falls below 7°C. It’s best to wait for the temperature change to stabilize, in case you’re just experiencing a short cold snap. The same principles apply once the weather begins to warm up, so once temperatures are consistently above 7°C, you can change back to your summer tires.

With all-season tires, you won’t have to worry about when you need to change your tires. They are year-round peace of mind. 

Michelin Garage: Helping you to choose the right tires for you and your car

Winter tires vs All-season tires : which tires should you buy? | Michelin Garage

How much will it cost to fit my car with the right seasonal tires?

Whether you’re fitting them to a family saloon, estate car, electric car, sports car, 4x4 or an SUV, choosing the right tires is essential. The cost depends on the size of your vehicle and the type of seasonal tire you want. For example, a Michelin Primacy 4 summer tire is available in 104 sizes (from 15 to 20 inches): find pricing online or with your local dealer.

Unlike summer tires, all-season tires can be safely used in winter, a factor which is reflected in their higher price. However, fitting your vehicle with all-season tires is still cheaper than buying sets of both summer and winter tires. These versatile tires combine the technology of summer and winter tires to offer a high level of performance and safety in all weather conditions. Their hybrid nature makes them economic in the long term.  Search for prices online, or find your local dealer.

Keen to learn more? Find the perfect tire for your needs with our guide to the best winter tires and the best all-season tires. 

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