Rise and drawbacks of all‑season tires: Longer distances lead to faster wear and tear
All-season tires are gaining popularity among drivers, particularly in areas with moderate climate conditions. Tire manufacturers strive to make their products as versatile and adaptable to diverse weather conditions as possible.
Due to modern production technologies, all-season tires pose an excellent compromise between summer and winter tires. Numerous independent tests have confirmed that although seasonal tires excel in extreme conditions, which are infrequent, all-season tires are the ideal middle ground for most drivers.
However, all-season tires have one significant drawback that many drivers overlook. As these tires are used all year round, they tend to cover much longer annual distances compared to seasonal tires. Unlike summer and winter tires which are interchanged, all-season tires accrue mileage continuously, leading to increased wear and tear.
For instance, if a driver covers a yearly distance of 7465 miles, an average of approximately 621 miles per month, summer and winter tires would cover roughly 4349-4971 miles and 2485-3107 miles per year, respectively. Assuming an average lifespan of 18,640 miles for all tire types, one can estimate their durability. After three years, seasonal tires would have covered between 13,048 to 14,912 miles for summer tires, and 7,456 to 9,320 miles for winter ones. They would still be in optimal condition, with summer tires likely to last into the fourth year, and winter tires for an additional two seasons.
Conversely, throughout the same three-year period, all-season tires would have already covered 22,368 miles and would necessitate replacement. After two years and 14,912 miles, they would exhibit similar wear as the summer tires and significantly more than the winter tires. Practically, their life could be "stretched" till the end of the following summer, yet they would not be suitable for the incoming winter. It's also noteworthy that all-season tires wear out faster in summer because the compound is softer.
Experience dictates that after three years of usage and 15,534 miles, all-season tires would have just over 0.16 inches of the tread depth remaining. Purchased before the winter season of 2020/2021, they would be unfit for usage in winter 2023/2024, though potentially usable in summer. Assuming an average mileage of 5,157 miles per year and gentle usage, these tires lasted for three winters and three summers. They could potentially endure one more summer, but would need replacing after two years if converted to a higher mileage of approximately 7,456 miles annually.
Interestingly, these tires showed even wear, despite the absence of tire rotation. However, this is not always the case for every car. In many vehicles, front tires exhibit faster wear than the rear ones when not periodically rotated.
In conclusion, all-season tires do not offer a complete solution in every aspect. While they negate the need for drivers to contemplate "when to change tires" or hunt for a tire service and pay for replacements, they should still inspect the tread thickness at least annually, ideally before the winter season, considering the forthcoming season in which they plan to utilize the tires.
Moreover, drivers should remember to rotate their tires regularly, ideally once a year. However, they should also account for the fact that new tire purchases will occur more frequently. So, the savings aspect does not merely hinge on purchasing one set of tires instead of two but also on avoiding the need for recurring tire replacement as those would who use a single set of rims and two sets of tires.