Summer Tires vs All-Season Tires: Which Are Best for You?

When you buy a new set of tires, it’s important you choose a set that meets your needs. Do you value comfort and a quiet ride, cost savings with fuel efficiency, longevity, performance, or a combination of those features? The pros at Les Schwab are here to help, including understanding the difference between summer and all-season tires and what you should have on your vehicle.

What Are Summer Tires?

Summer tires, also known as performance tires, are designed for drivers who enjoy precise handling and control on wet and dry roads. As the name implies, they are designed for warmer conditions or regions that experience nothing more than an infrequent downpour.

Why Summer Tires Perform Better in Heat and Rain

Summer tires are optimized for excellent road grip, cornering, braking, and acceleration. First, the tread patterns typically feature shallow, straighter grooves along with solid, continuous ribs. That way, more rubber is always in contact with the road. Plus, thanks to a special rubber compound, performance tires are traditionally softer for added road grip in wet conditions and dissipate heat better than other tires in the summer months.

Since performance tires often have asymmetrical or directional tread patterns, tire rotation options may be limited. The pros at Les Schwab can help you get the most life out of your summer tires. While summer tires can outperform all-season tires in many tests, they get rigid in colder weather, reducing stopping distances and control.

Comparison of summer and all-season tire tread features

All-season Tires Trade Off Some Traction for Longer Wear

All tires are purpose-built. All-season tires are engineered to be used year-round in regions where drivers don’t experience a lot of snow or ice. They are like a hybrid of summer and winter tires. The rubber in all-season tires remains flexible at temperatures a bit above freezing to maintain grip in snow and ice. Plus, the tread design on all-season tires is usually symmetrical, giving you more rotation options to even out tread wear and extend tire mileage.

While they are not a substitute for genuine winter tires, which are necessary for stable driving in a lot of snow, sleet and ice, they are also not a high performance tire for serious summertime driving.

When choosing between performance and all-season tires, use the quick comparisons below.


Sticky tread compound and designed to prevent hydroplaning in heavy rain. Moderately good traction on wet surfaces.
Great cornering, quick acceleration and braking. Designed for solid traction in a wide variety of conditions. Not for performance handling.
TEMPERATURE RANGE Use when average daily temperatures are 44º F and up. Made for temps at or above freezing.
TREAD DEPTH Tires often need to be replaced at 4/32nds inch of tread left for best hydroplaning resistance. Tires typically replaced at 2/32nds inch of tread left.
VEHICLE TYPE Great on high-performance vehicles (EV, sports cars, luxury SUVs, etc.) Passenger cars, SUVs, CUVs, light trucks.
TYPE OF DRIVING Spirited drivers and sports car owners. Everyday drivers, commuters, and those who face snow and ice.

Do You Need Summer Tires?

If you live where it never snows and temperatures are typically 44°F or warmer, summer or performance tires are a good choice. Performance tires are especially well-suited to urban areas with warm climates that get some rain. That’s because they’re better at preventing hydroplaning at highway speeds than all-season tires. Learn how to avoid hydroplaning. However, if you live in an area where the weather is not so predictable, and freezing rain or light snow conditions are possible, it’s better to go with all-season tires.

Do you encounter snow and ice every year? Play it safe and get a set of winter tires. Then change them out for all-season or performance tires in the spring.

Summer Tires and All-Season Tires FAQ

Can I use summer tires all year?

If you live in a climate that doesn’t experience any snow or freezing temperatures, you can safely use summer or performance tires all year long. Additionally, summer tires are designed to minimize hydroplaning, which means they are exceptional on wet roads. However, if you do drive in the snow or freezing temperatures, it’s advisable to use a set of winter tires once temperatures drop below 44º F.

Do summer tires wear faster than all-season tires?

Summer or performance tires are built with shallower grooves and special tread compound, which can provide less tread life than all-season tires.

Can you use all-season tires in the summer?

All-season tires are designed to grip the road in many conditions and seasons, and can be a good choice for many drivers.

Are summer tires harder than all-season tires?

The rigidity of summer and all-season tires depends on the ambient temperature and the heat (or lack of heat) from the road. Summer tires are designed to retain their shape in warmer conditions, while all-season tires are built with a special rubber compound that keeps them flexible at temperatures just above freezing..

Shop Our Wide Selection of Summer and All-season Tires

One of the biggest factors in choosing a new set of tires depends on what and how you drive. Stop by Les Schwab today and our pros will ask you all the right questions to help find the right tires for your vehicle and daily needs.

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