Even for this winter you have to find the answer to the question "Do I
really need winter tires ?". In previous articles we discussed how
dangerous will be the use of summer tires during winter; but is there a
cheaper though safer solution ?
Almost every tire manufacturer can offer "all seasons" or "all weather" tires, which are “in between” summer and winter tires, with a tread of intermediate height between the two previous tires and designed to offer grip on dry or wet asphalt. Initially designed for the American market, they are now popular in Europe too.
Can they replace winter tires ?
If you want to compare the two solution you have to look for M + S (Mud + Snow) tires.
Are they as safe as "season" tires ?
The answer is no: longer braking distance make them less safe.
Are they more economic?
The comparison between the two solutions is not immediate but still it's feasible. Seasonal tires require a higher initial investment (buy both the two sets at the same time,) plus the cost of the service for for tire changing twice a year. The "all seasons" tires, instead, are costing more than a single seasonal set but certainly less than 2 sets (summer and winter) and do not require replacement operation during the year. However, we must take into account that the degradation is 15% higher than winter tires and 10% higher than summer ones. Also, they have a higher rolling resistance, which results in higher fuel costs.
According to a simulation of the Turing Club Suisse, taking into account all costs, replacing tires in different seasons is definitely more convenient (and safer).