How To Tell The Difference Between Winter And Summer Tyres

Winter is here! As the temperatures drop and the ice begins to form on the roads, drivers everywhere are preparing their vehicles for winter hence this guide on how to tell the difference between winter and summer tyres.

And one of the most important preparations that drivers can make before winter hits is switching to snow tires. Winter tires grip better on slippery areas and prevent your normal car tires from freezing in place.

However, buying snow tires can cost hundreds of dollars more than summer tires that we normally use in warmer seasons. In warmer weather, summer tires offer the best performance despite offering little traction in snowy conditions.

Winter and summer tyres have a lot more in common than meets the eye – although they are different. That’s why many drivers find it difficult to distinguish between the two types. This article digs deep into winter and summer tires and how to go about choosing the best. Keep reading.

How To Tell the Difference Between Winter and Summer Tyres

How To Identify summerTyres
Summer tires

How To Identify Winter Tyres

You could have all-season tires on your vehicle and still experience poor traction and handling during the winter months. In fact, most vehicles come with all-season tires as standard equipment and will not perform well enough in cold weather conditions. And that’s where winter tires come in place.

Winter tire technology has come a long way since its introduction in the 1970s. Today’s winter tires have better handling characteristics than ever, giving drivers more confidence when driving on slippery roads during inclement weather conditions.

They are designed to work even when temperatures fall below 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit). And their performance increases significantly as the temperatures drop.

Winter tires have a much higher tread depth than their summer counterparts, which allows them to stay on top of snow and slush, even when packed down or slick. Similarly, their tread design makes it easier to evacuate water on wet pavements while facilitating better traction.

They are made of soft rubber, making them more flexible at low temperatures for easier road-gripping. They also have a lower rolling resistance, so they’re less likely to overheat under heavy loads — like when accelerating from a stop — especially if your car is turbocharged.

Identifying these tires on the market is easy. Here is how.

1. Symbol of Snowflake

The snowflake symbol in a red circle (this symbol is not mandatory) is evident on many winter tires approved by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

It represents an industry standard for winter tire performance for winter snow traction and other winter weather conditions such as slush, ice, wet/dry friction, and hydroplaning resistance.

This symbol on the tire’s sidewall near its date of manufacture (DOT code) identifies the tire brand, model type, size, and country of manufacture.

Read: XL tires on a sports car

2. “M+S” Symbol

All winter tyres have an “M+S” symbol on their sidewalls to signify their tolerance on wet pavements.

3. Tread Pattern

As mentioned earlier, the easiest way to identify winter tires is by looking at their tread patterns. Winter tires tend to have deeper tread blocks than summer tires, which improves their ability to grip slippery surfaces like snow and ice.

They also have more slipping — small grooves cut into the rubber’s surface improve wet traction.

Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 Winter/Snow tires are the ultimate in SUV performance! The new LM-32 combines Bridgestone’s most advanced high-performance technology with a new Top Compound to deliver outstanding winter and all-season performance.

The Blizzak LM-32 utilizes a new rubber compound that incorporates advanced polymer technology to resist temperatures up to 120 degrees F. It’s all to deliver a tire that provides excellent performance in winter and other seasons.


  • Dependable cornering and handling abilities
  • Provides confident grip and braking
  • Offers improved fuel efficiency
  • Arguably one of the best performance tire


  • May wear quickly
  • Best for light vehicles only

How To Identify Summer Tires

Summer tires are designed to provide maximum traction in hot and dry conditions. They use hard rubber compounds that are less likely to break down when they’re warm, and they have fewer voids and sipes (little grooves) in their tread pattern.

These features help them generate more heat than all-season or winter tires, which means they can perform better at higher temperatures.

You can spot the difference between summer and winter tires’ tread patterns. Summer tires, as mentioned above, have fewer grooves than winter tires, which makes them less effective at channeling away water — although they also wear out more quickly.

Additionally, summer tires usually have a higher speed rating than their winter counterparts, allowing them to reach top speeds of up to 130 mph on dry pavement.

Some high-performance models can even achieve higher speeds under ideal conditions — up to 160 mph — but such high speeds aren’t good for street driving conditions.

What Can You Expect from Summer Tires?

Summer tires excel at providing high levels of grip in dry conditions, so they’re popular among many drivers who live in warmer climates. However, they tend to wear out more quickly than other tires due to their shallow tread pattern.

Here is how to identify summer tires;

They Lack the M+S Symbol

Summer tires don’t have an M+S symbol on them. This stands for mud and snow, conditions that summer tires won’t excel at. So once you see a tire without this symbol, there are high chances that it is a summer tire.

Lower Tread Depth

The tread depth of a summer tire is about half that of an all-season tire. So it won’t grip better on wet roads or icy pavements.

They Don’t Have Deep Grooves

Summer tires don’t have deep grooves as all-seasons do — these grooves are a feature that helps keep your vehicle stable on wet pavement while also helping it grip better in the snow (all year round).

Without these grooves, summer tires can lose traction easily when driving on wet grounds. That’s why they are specific for summer use.

The Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S is an ultra-high performance premium tire developed to optimize the sporting capabilities of high-performance cars. The Pilot Sport 4 S achieves this performance thanks to its signature three-peak design and asymmetric tread on each tire.

It provides controllable grip and handling while at the same time maintaining a smooth ride in all driving situations.


  • Best street performance tires you can buy
  • Offers smooth ride
  • High-speed rating


  • It may not grip well on wet pavements

Read: How to get snow out of tires

How To Identify All Season Tires

All-season tires are a great option for drivers who want the best of both worlds. These tires offer a great balance between year-round performance and cost.

So whether you live in a region with mild or severe winters, all-season tires got your back. They can handle any adverse weather condition and surpass your expectations.

All-season tires are better than summer or even performance summer tires in snow and ice conditions, but they may not be optimal for winter driving. Of Course, if you’re looking for maximum traction on snow and ice, consider buying dedicated winter tires instead.

Here is how to identify all-season tires.

1. M+S Marking

This is the most common marking found in all seasons. It indicates that the tire has been designed for use in mud and snow conditions but not necessarily for ice.

The M+S stands for mud and snow. The plus sign indicates that the tire has been tested to perform at least adequately in both wet and dry conditions.

2. Examine the Tread Pattern Closely

All-season tires have a distinctive pattern, with blocks of grooves running perpendicular to the tire’s centerline or circumferential grooves on both sides of the tire.

These grooves help channel away water and slush to keep you safe when driving in wet conditions.

3. They Are Not Cheap

All-season tires tend to be more expensive than other options because they can handle dry and wet weather conditions.

4. Speed Rating of the Tire

Most all-season tires will have an H or V speed rating (at least 130 mph). So if your tire doesn’t have any speed rating, it may not be an all-season tire.

The Michelin Defender LTX M/S is an all-season tire designed to provide excellent performance and long tread life in various weather conditions. The fully-balanced compound helps reduce wear, while the EverTread technology emulates high-profile designs with reduced rolling resistance and fuel consumption.

Its unique directional tread design delivers improved grip in wet or dry conditions.


  • Smooth and excellent rides
  • Improved traction, speed balance
  • Very quiet, works great in snow and handles fantastically.


  • A bit expensive, though worth the pennies

Tires are the only contact between you and the road, so you must understand how your tires perform in different weather conditions. Winter tires are designed for use on snowy roads or temperatures below 55 degrees F.

On the other hand, summer tires offer more traction on dry roads than in all seasons and provide better handling. So it’s important to consider weather patterns around your area before investing in new sets of tires.

Ultimately, it’s not worth compromising safety when dealing with potentially hazardous road conditions.

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