Snow or Winter Tires are specifically designed for cold weather; they perform poorly in summer conditions. All-season tires are a compromise that perform adequately in all conditions without exceling in any particular weather type. Almost all cars in the U.S. are fitted with all-season tires in the factory.
All-season tires are designed for both dry weather and snow. They have medium sized tread blocks with more edges than summer tires. Some hair-thin cuts, or snipes, cross the tread to add extra grip. In cold weather, they will harden, reducing their traction and grip.
Snow or winter tires use rubber compounds that are specifically designed for extra grip in low temperatures, and have a tread designed to bite into snow. They are ideal in areas that experience winter storms and blizzards. Snipes cross the treads, creating extra edges for added grip. The tread, as a result, is less stable.
In snowy weather, snow tires unsurprisingly have the advantage. Snow tires get from 0-60mph in 19.1 seconds on snow, while all-season tires do so in 22.9 seconds. When stopping in snow, snow tires stopped from 60mph in 382 feet, while all-season tires took 421 feet.
In wet conditions, the snow tires accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 12.7 seconds, while the all-season tire took 15.4 seconds. When stopping in wet conditions at 60 mph, the snow tires stopped in 181 feet, while the all-season tires stopped at 215 feet.
In dry conditions, the snow tires accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, while the all-season tires do so in 8.7 seconds. The snow tires stop in 155 feet from 60 mph, while the all-season tires stop in 131 feet.
In snowy conditions, a vehicle using winter tires is 38% less likely to be involved in a collision than a vehicle using all-season tires.
The rubber compound used in winter tires is soft and so wears down more quickly than all-season tires.
All-season tires cost $60-$125 plus tax for each tire, including installation. They must be replaced every three years.
Winter tires cost $65-$120 plus tax per tire, plus the cost of all-season tires above. If used properly, they must all be replaced every six years. It also costs around $75 to change tires each time.