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Summer, winter and all-season tyres

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

A common question these days from our customers at New Forest Tyres, is about the best type of tyres for their car.

Of course, there a many brands of tyre – Dunlop, Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear, BF Goodrich and our recommended ‘house’ brand Point S (made by Continental) – but do you need to be choosing different tyres for different seasons?

For clarity, we’ve grouped the options into three types of tyres: summer tyres, winter tyres and all-season tyres. Let’s take a look at each type of tyre and its specific benefits in turn.

Summer tyres

This is what the vast majority of us drive on all year round. It’s only in relatively recent times that the term ‘summer’ has been added to the description of most tyres that aren’t specifically for winter or all-season use.

As long as these tyres are in good condition, are kept at the correct pressure and have decent tread depth (2.5mm plus we say), then they are safe for use all year. It’s just that their attributes are better suited to warmer weather: The tread design and compound of summer tyres is optimised for wet and dry roads when the air temperature is +7°C.

Benefits of summer tyres:

  • Optimal grip on wet and dry roads when the air temperature is +7°C

  • Lower road noise than some winter and all-season tyres

  • Lower fuel consumption than some winter and all-season tyres

Winter tyres

Winter driving conditions in the New Forest can be challenging. Sure, we see less snow in these southern climes, but slush and ice are still a serious danger to all road users.

Winter tyres are designed to work best at temperatures below +7°C. They use a high silica content in the rubber compound that stays pliant at lower temperatures, improving grip. The tread depth is typically deeper than that found on summer tyres and the tread blocks normally feature sipes for biting into snow, slush and ice.

Winter tyres all have a three-peak mountain and snowflake symbol (3PMSF) on the sidewall.

A good set of winter tyres makes any car safer in sub +7°C conditions. The difference on an icy road is remarkable: great traction, precise steering, short braking distances, predictable handling.

And on snow, nothing can touch a winter tyre: a two-wheel drive vehicle on good winter tyres will outperform a similar four-wheel drive vehicle on summer tyres in any test of traction, steering, braking or handling.

Benefits of winter tyres:

  • Specifically designed to give the best possible grip in sub +7°C conditions

  • The safest solution for winter driving – but you will need to have a set of summer tyres to run once the weather warms up

All-season tyres:

The all-season tyre is the classic compromise. You might even call it the classic British compromise: winter tyres have never been popular here, but the all-season tyre is one of the most popular tyre types in the UK now.

Graced with the same three-peak mountain and snowflake symbol (3PMSF) found on the sidewalls of winter tyres, the all-season brings some of the best attributes of both summer and winter tyres together in one tyre.

OK, that needs a bit of qualifying. We are talking about a good all-season tyre from the likes of Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli, Point S, Laufenn, Vredestein and Hankook

(other good brands exist of course – if we sell it, you can trust it). And by ‘some of the best attributes’ we aren’t talking about the extreme capabilities of the best summer and winter tyres out there. So don’t expect an all-season tyre to deliver dry road grip like a Michelin Pilot Sport 5 or conquer a snowy pass like a Goodyear Ultragrip 9+.

But for everyday driving in the wide variety of conditions we face on our New Forest roads, an all-season tyre is an excellent, and very safe choice.

Benefits of all-season tyres:

  • No need to buy, and store, a spare set of wheels and tyres to suit the season

  • Arguably the best tyre solution for the majority of drivers in the majority of conditions

Here at New Forest Tyres we stock a huge range of summer, winter, all-season and high-performance tyres for cars, vans, SUVs and 4x4s. Click here for an instant quote. For an in-person service or for advice before you buy tyres, email us on or call 01590 718583.


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