The tread – differences between different types of tires

At first glance, all tires are "black and round" – but there are big differences! They already start with the profile. If you take a closer look at the incisions in the tires that characterize the tread, you can quickly distinguish between different types of tires:

Profile of a summer tire

Summer tires

The tread of summer tires is clearly designed for higher temperatures and unsuitable for winter:

Summer tires have coarse tread grooves and, unlike winter or all-season tires, do not have sipes. Its tread is not suitable for winter use.

Like sandals, summer tires are just the right choice in the warm season.

Winter tires

The tread pattern of winter tires is clearly designed for winter road conditions:

Winter tires have clearly visible sipes on the entire tread all the way into the tire shoulder. Lamellas are fine, usually zigzag-shaped incisions in the profile blocks (highlighted here in yellow). They form numerous grip edges that provide optimal grip on snowy and icy roads.

Winter tires are like "lambskin boots" for the car – perfectly adapted to winter conditions.

Profile of an all-season tire

All-season tires

All-season tires, often called all-weather tires, can be likened to transitional jackets – in theory, they can be used all year round. In winter and in heavy rain, however, the jacket is too thin and does not protect properly, in summer it is too thick and you sweat. Are all-season tires just as safe as summer or winter tires??

Due to different tread types incorporated into the all-season tire, the all-season tire represents a compromise between winter and summer tires. The tread pattern of all-season tires is designed for both summer and winter conditions. sipes, which provide the interlocking effect with the road surface, are generously distributed over the entire tread of winter tires. In all-season tires, these sipes are usually only located in the central part of the tread, which noticeably reduces efficiency on snowy or icy roads.

Disadvantages compared to winter tires

By law, all-season tires used in winter must have the M+S marking ("mud and snow").: mud-and-snow) have. However, there are no test specifications for M+S tires. tires with the snowflake symbol must, however, pass a test on snow. Well-known tire manufacturers offer their winter tires and their all-season tires almost only with the snowflake.
The tread pattern of all-weather tires is also designed for winter conditions, but does not offer the full possible level of safety that a high-quality winter tire would bring. All-season tires are usually not as efficient as the specialized winter or summer tires in more extreme weather situations. However, the quality of the tires must be taken into account here as well.

Disadvantages compared to summer tires

Even in summer, an all-weather tire is not the perfect choice. all-season tires have a comparatively soft rubber compound. This results in a longer braking distance, regardless of the weather, and is also responsible for lower mileage than with a high-quality summer tire.
In addition, all-season tires rub off more quickly at high temperatures and lose their shape sooner than summer tires. The tread of an all-season tire also carries away far less water and is therefore far less efficient in the event of aquaplaning.


DVR recommends using summer tires in summer and winter tires in winter. All weather tires may be a solid tire base in moderate weather at all times. But if you have to drive your car in all weathers, specialized tires are simply the safest way to go.

Jurgen Eigenbrodt

Expert tip

Jurgen eigenbrodt, nexen tires, sales director:

"winter and summer tires are specialists in their respective fields – the all-season tire is a generalist. This means that compromises have to be made: all-season tires are subject to higher wear, are overtaxed in extreme winter conditions and may perform worse in the values relevant for the tire label. Current tire tests also come to similar conclusions."

Profile of an off-road tire

off-road tires

Off-road tires, with their relatively coarse tread, are only suitable for winter driving to a limited extent:

So-called SUV or off-road tires are generally only light or heavy-duty, despite the M+S designation. Coarse lamellas (here: small zigzag lamellas). Their winter suitability is therefore extremely limited. use on cold, wet roads is possible, but driving on ice and snow is not recommended!

To stay with the shoe comparison, off-road tires are like hiking boots designed for summer hiking. for trekking and alpine you would again choose others.

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