All Season Tire. The name right there is misleading – it sounds like an “All Season” would be the best choice for all four seasons, right? But you’d be wrong. And then you have “Summer” tires. It’s to be expected that a summer tire, when the weather is warm and dry, would have the best grip right? But the word “Summer” tire sounds like it’d only be good in the summer, just one of the four seasons, right? Wrong.
Whoever set out to name these tires probably wasn’t trying to mislead everyone with the name – contrary to popular belief that “All Season Tires Must be best for Fall, Winter AND Spring”, this is not the case at all. The other name “Summer” tires are called are “Three Season” tires, with good reason. You see, in order for an All-Season tire to be usable in the winter, it needs to have a tread pattern cut that’ll grab in snowy, slushy conditions of the winter but also provide acceptable traction when it’s not snowy out – this comes at the expense of grip in WET (not snowy, WET) conditions and simply “acceptable” grip the rest of the time. So now we can see the all-season tire for what it is: A Compromise, to allow the average driver to use the same set of tires throughout the year. Understand that for the tire to do “acceptably” in all four seasons, it’s “mobility” in snow, which is not the same as “good grip in snow” at all. If you live in a place where it doesn’t snow (like all of Southern California below 4000ft+- elevation), then hands down, a summer tire will have the advantage in grip on the road every time.
Which brings us to SUMMER tires. Truthfully, these ought to be called three season tires. For the purpose of this discussion, we’re talking “normal” street tires – these “Summer” tires feature better designed water channels in the tread for more efficient clearing of water and a better compound for grabbing the road when there’s not snow out. This means that these are the tires you want for the spring and fall rains, not all-seasons. It rains a hell of a lot in the midwest during the summer, so you want a tire that’ll have the best traction in the wet as well as dry conditions. Mind you, when we say summer tires can grip in the wet, we’re not saying go drive around on your R-Compound slicks in the rain – we’re saying that a normal “summer” tire (not race/trackday-only tire) will offer better grip in the wet than a similar all-season tire, no bones about it.
You may be asking yourself, “So if I’m supposed to use my summer tires for spring, summer and fall, what am I supposed to do when it DOES snow in the winter?”
When it does snow out, hands down, the best tires will be ACTUAL SNOW TIRES. You know, like Bridgestone Blizzaks and so on. Yes, you’re only using them for this one season. But for that season, Snow Tires will kick the butt of All-Season tires in any snowy situation. We don’t have any on hand at the moment, this being southern California in the middle of the summer, but when we say snow tires, this is what we mean.
This, friends, is why Winter Wheels are such a capital idea. Yeah, you’re using those wheels for that one season, but cared for properly, you’ve got several years of use out of these, meaning you don’t necessarily need to get a new set every year. And it’s also a great excuse to consider treating your car to a swanky new set of aftermarket wheels like Forgestar, HRE Flow Form, VMR Wheels and other fine manufacturers and using your stockers as the “winter wheels”.
So, the next time you’re looking at a new set of tires, consider where you live – if it doesn’t snow, there’s really no reason to buy all-seasons, and if you DO live in a place where it snows, the only way to have the best grip winter, spring, summer and fall is to have a set of Snow Tires on Winter Wheels and Summer Tires on the nicer set you’ll be seeing most of the year. There are some very good high performance all seasons out there, but in the end they are still a compromise and won’t perform as well as a similar summer tire in wet (not snowy) conditions, and an all-season will not perform anywhere near as well in snow as an actual snow tire. That said, should you be stuck with only the one set of wheels year round, the Modification Experts can recommend a high performance all-season that will offer the best compromise for the way you drive your car.
Winter Wheels: The perfect excuse to treat yourself to a set of these babies for the three seasons it doesn’t snow!
If you’re interested in picking up a set of Wheels for BMW for winter use, or wheels for any other car for that matter, give our Modification Experts a call at 714-582-3330 or visit us at ModBargains.com – we’ve got great prices on tires to help you wrap those shiny new wheels in fresh rubber at a price that won’t kill your fun-budget.
Story by Nicholas Gregson