Tips and advice about winter tyres - What is an all season tyre worth in winter?

What is an all season tyre worth in winter?

Your winter tyres Published the 27/11/2012 by Daniel

Based on a compromise, all season tyres don’t claim to compete with winter tyres. If with all season tyres you avoid the hassle of changing your tyres twice a year, they are not as safe on cold and slippery roads. What’s more, they wear faster and increase fuel consumption.

Road and fog Are all season tyres really adapted for winter conditions - Copyright © : All Rights Reserved

The all season tyre is also known as the four-season tyre or, for Americans, the "All Weather” tyre.   It is an intermediate tyre between the summer tyre and the winter tyre. Initially designed for the American market, the same tyre can be used throughout the year. As such, it avoids buying a set of winter tyres and changing your tyres in the autumn and spring.

Not as safe as a winter tyre

Although it generally carries the M+S marking, its features are closer to those of a summer tyre than a winter tyre. Therefore, the all season tyre does not offer the same level of safety as a winter tyre as soon as temperatures drop below 10°C and roads become slippery. This is confirmed by tests conducted by the Swiss Touring Club (TCS).

Measured performance Test conditions Summer tyre Winter tyre All season tyre
Braking distance on dry surfaces 60 to 0 mph ± 10°C 125 ft (38 m)  167 ft (51 m) 161 ft (49 m)
60 to 0 mph ± 20°C 125 ft (38 m)  187 ft (57 m) 170 ft (52 m)
Braking distance on wet surfaces 50 to 0 mph 
± 10°C
141 ft (43 m) 131 ft (40 m)  144 ft (44 m)
50 to 0 mph 
± 20°C
131 ft (40 m)  148 ft (45 m) 154 ft (47 m)
Braking distance on snow 25 to 0 mph 200 ft (61 m) 95 ft (29 m)  138 ft (42 m)
Fuel consumption 31.36 mpg  30.95 mpg 29.77 mpg
Wear ± 10°C 105% 100% 115%
± 20°C 100% 115% 110%
 

(Source: Swiss Touring Club).

Less cost effective than a seasonal tyre

An all season tyre will wear faster than a winter tyre used in winter (+15%) and a summer tyre used in summer (+10%). It will also show a higher rolling resistance, which results in a higher fuel consumption. From an economical point of view, it is more advantageous to alternate summer and winter tyres than to drive with all season tyres, as proved in the following TCS simulation.

(Time scale = 6 years)

Cost items 4 summer tyres 4 winter tyres 12 all season tyres
Tyres (1) £ 395 £ 397 £ 1510
Wheels (2) - £ 408
Tyre Change (3) £ 109 £ 109 -
Fitting – Balancing (4) £ 125 £ 125 £ 188
Fuel consumption (5) £ 3444 £ 3490 £ 7256
Total £ 8603  £ 8956

(Source: Swiss Touring Club).

(1)   Service life:  6 years or 56 000 miles; 28 000 miles for summer and winter tyres, 18 600 miles for all season tyres
(2)   4 aluminium wheels.
(3)   Wheel balance and valve replacement not included.
(4)   Valve replacement included in year 3.
(5)   Summer tyres:  31.36 mpg; winter tyre :  30.95 mpg ; all season tyres :  29.77 mpg.  Fuel price:  £ 1.09 (1,30 €)