The major differences between winter tires and mixed tires are the type of rubber used to make them and the tread patterns on the tires. Winter tires use a thick, flexible rubber that stays soft in cold weather and many small tread blocks and cuts to grip slick road surfaces. Mixed or all-season tires have a harder rubber for durability throughout the year and a multipurpose tread pattern to provide satisfactory grip in all seasons.
Winter or snow tires provide extra traction, faster braking and better handling when the road is covered with snow or ice. However, the soft rubber and thick tread of snow tires wears down more quickly than the tread on all-season tires when driving on hard, dry pavement. Snow tires provide poorer stopping ability on wet pavement in warm weather than do all-season tires. In general, winter tires work better than all-season tires in subfreezing temperatures when there is snow or ice on the road, and mixed tires work adequately in all weather conditions year round.
Summer or three-season tires are a third variety of tire designed to provide the best handling on wet pavement. Summer tires are an option in areas where there is no wintry weather or as a replacement for winter tires when winter is over.