“What’s up with everything, it’s up with nothing!” – is almost a sacred saying among conservative drivers who don’t like to experiment, and there are no compromises for them. Is that right? Some time ago such an approach made sense, but today it is worthwhile to get off the beaten track and try something new. Any example? The all-season tires!
Yes, they are not for everyone and certainly will not meet the requirements of very demanding drivers, but there is a group of car owners for whom this solution will be ideal. But before we move on to the biggest advantages and disadvantages of all-season tires, let’s check what it was like years ago.
Until the early 90s, there was practically no distinction between summer and winter tires. There were universal tires. However, the progress made in the development of rubber compounds, as well as in the design of tire treads, meant that tire manufacturers quickly felt the economic situation.
Now the car user no longer needed one set of tires – but two! Marketing has started at full speed. And of course, we must not forget about safety issues.
In fact, by separating the summer and winter tires, it was possible to create tires that were almost perfectly suited to the road conditions, while providing a high level of safety. Usually – though not always – the higher the more expensive the tires were.
Nevertheless, there remained a group of drivers who strongly held to the principle that one set for the whole season is enough.
Unfortunately, the greater power of the car, the more traffic on the road and the increased driving dynamics made it dangerous to drive on summer tires in winter in case of heavy snowfall, and using winter tires in summer was just a waste – the tread wore out at an alarming rate, and the stability and grip were very low.
Even today, this practice does not make sense, which is why manufacturers are developing better all-year-round tires to meet the requirements of those who do not want to change tires twice a year. What has come out of this?
Year-round tires – making compromises?
Until a few years ago, year-round tires were neglected by manufacturers who focused on seasonal solutions. As a result, all-season tires did not provide grip and traction, while in summer they increased fuel consumption and generated a lot of noise.
At that time, a skepticism stand made sense, and changing tires from summer to winter and vice versa, even for drivers who spend most of their time in town, was justified. Today it is a bit different.
Nowadays, the car is used not only by professional and demanding drivers, who make several tens of thousands of kilometers a year but also by those who use the vehicle occasionally and do not need specialized tires.
Modern year-round tires are able to match seasonal tires in some conditions. This is a huge technological advancement, especially when we consider the almost unrealistic requirements placed on such tires.
While winter tires are supposed to maintain their performance in winter, at low temperatures, and in poor weather conditions, summer tires are supposed to provide excellent grip in high temperatures, and in the rain, all-season tires have to “get it all”.
In practice, this means that the year-round tire must have excellent handling characteristics in the temperature range from -20 to +30, and should be able to cope with slush mud, spring drizzle or autumn storm.
Does current technology allow this? Not exactly, so it’s clear that the ideal year-round tire does not exist. Instead, there are tires that the manufacturer has managed to keep a perfect compromise when designing them.
There are several models on the market that have excellent performance. Some features in the tests are better than dedicated summer or winter tires.
These can be shorter braking distances, better-wet grip or traction when driving on snow.
These include Michelin CrossClimate+, Nokian WeatheProof, and Goodyear Vector 4Seasons G2. It’s worth keeping this in mind and choosing a year-round tire that looks its best.
A whole year of calm or… constant stress?
Buying a good quality year-round tire seems to be a better choice than investing in dedicated summer and winter tires of a lower class.
Yes, it will be a greater expense, but when buying year-round tires we also buy the peace of mind associated with not having to change tires, make an appointment with a vulcanizer, etc., but let’s remember that it all comes down to how we use the car anyway.
It may turn out that buying a dedicated tire will be a better solution even when the whole thing will cost more and will involve more commitment i.e. replacement, storage, etc. To the point.
For whom are all-year-round tires?
The answer to this question seems simple, although it is necessary to determine exactly how much tires can be used. A driver who makes at least 30 thousand kilometers a year, drives mainly on the road and it is quite dynamic, does not save the car and even difficult weather conditions (hot or harsh winter) are not terrible for him, he should resign from buying year-round tires.
As we have already mentioned, these tires are not able to maintain optimal properties in extreme conditions and aggressive driving.
What’s more, the durability of such tires is estimated to be around 50-60 thousand kilometers, so replacing them would be on average every two seasons – a considerable expense.
Let’s also remember that a lot depends on your driving style, the type of roads, the routes you drive, etc. In the case of seasonal tires, it is recommended that winter tires should have at least 4 mm tread and summer tires 3 mm. For all-season tires, it’s worth keeping a higher value.
All-season tires will appeal to drivers who drive little, make a maximum of 10,000 kilometers a year, mainly in town. Going out of town is an occasional trip, and an attack of winter or extreme heat is a sufficient excuse to leave the car in the garage.
Besides, periodical tire changes are unnecessary bothering, and storing unused rubbers generates additional problems. If you agree with these features, choose year-round tires.
Their characteristics will be sufficient for a smooth urban ride, their longevity will ensure several years of trouble-free operation, and the expense of a higher amount will pay for itself in the form of no problems associated with periodic replacement.
Is it worth it? Today, the quality of top all-season tires is fully satisfactory and will meet even high demands. Yes, these are not tires that will be a fully-fledged alternative to seasonal top tires, nor will they last as long as two sets of dedicated tires, but if you’re not driving much, quietly and mainly in town, and there are plenty of such drivers, this type of tire is an interesting alternative.
Calculation of costs – does it pay off?
As we have already mentioned, everything depends on the driver’s requirements, but most of all on how the car is used. For the purposes of our calculation, however, we will average an estimated annual mileage of 20,000 kilometers and check the cost of using year-round tires and two sets of summer and winter tires, using the example of a car with 16-inch standard width rims.
In addition, we have chosen Michelin CrossClimate+ all-season tires, which are in the highest places in many tests. For winter and summer tires, we chose popular premium models, such as the Pirelli P7 Cinturato for summer tires and the Continental WinterContact TS 860 for winter tires.
The cost of purchasing tyres in size 205/55 R16:
- Michelin CrossClimate+ – approx. 600 USD per set
- Pirelli P7 Cinturato – about 650 USD per set
- Continental WinterContact TS 860 – approx. 680 USD per set
Of course, the purchase of two sets of tires will be a much bigger investment – in our case as much as 1400 USD – which is more than 1000 USD higher than the purchase of year-round tyres, but the decisive issue will be the durability and life span of both sets.
Therefore, the estimated annual cost of use with a pre-assumed mileage of 20,000 kilometers may be crucial. It is also important to remember the average maximum life of tyres. Of course, this depends on many factors, but it is estimated that a set of tires will last for about 60,000 kilometers, assuming that the driver drives peacefully.
The annual cost of tire operation:
- Year-round tyre – with a mileage of 20,000 kilometers a year, it is sufficient for about 3 years of use (with a service life of up to 60,000 kilometers), so the purchase cost is divided into three, as there are no additional operating costs associated with replacement, storage, etc. As a result, the annual cost of the use of all-year-round tyres is 440 USD.
- Two sets of seasonal tyres – in this case two sets of seasonal tyres should last twice as long, i.e. 120 000 kilometers. Assuming that we cover 20,000 kilometers per year, the replacement of tyres will take place every 6 years, so the cost of purchase should be divided by six, which will amount to about USD 393. This is about 50 USD less than in the case of year-round tyres, but let’s not forget about the costs of replacing tyres twice a year and possible costs of storing tires. As a last resort, this amount may exceed 500-550 USD per year.
The lower the annual mileage and the quieter the driver’s character, the profitability of buying all-year-round tires increases proportionally. If someone drives a lot and often uses the performance of their car, they will have to change their year-round tires even every season, and this completely eliminates any possible savings.
The low mileage of 10,000 kilometers per year means that a year-round tyre will last for up to 5-6 years, i.e. until the rubber retains its properties. Additionally, during these few years, we will save an additional few hundred zlotys on seasonal tyre changes.