Winter tyres or all season tyres? What you need to know

A guide to understanding the best type of tyre depending on your driving style and habits. Knowing how to decide in view of the coming cold season guarantees safety

Home road Winter tyres or all season tyres? What you need to know
Winter tyres or all season tyres? What you need to know

Choosing a set of all season tyres to keep all year round or fitting four winter tyres? That’s the question that many drivers ask when they need to change their tyres in the run up to the winter season. And knowing how to decide is not a trivial choice, because it determines your safety on the road.

The factors to take into consideration are the time of year and the way the car is used during the winter, your place of residence and the performance you are looking for, bearing in mind that “four season” tyres are efficient in many situations, whereas winter tyres are only suited to the most demanding situations, when they guarantee performance. Of course, whatever you decide, there must be a “M+S” or 3PMSF marking on the side of your tyres.


You had best fit winter tyres on your car if you cover a lot of mileage during the winter, for work or pleasure, and if you are looking for the best possible performance in any typical cold season condition. As autumn progresses and winter temperatures arrive, below the threshold of 7°C summer tyres might no longer express their characteristics at best and so for demanding drivers winter tyres are preferable.

Thanks to their “softer” compound, which performs even when the temperature drops below zero, winter tyres guarantee superior road grip, excellent traction and safe braking on all types of surface, even with low adhesion, for greater safety. The chemical characteristics of winter tyre compounds allow shorter braking distances both on wet roads (up to 15%) and on snow-covered roads, where the improvement rate increases significantly (up to 50%) compared to a summer tyre.

The particular tread pattern of a winter tyre also contributes towards achieving superior performance levels, in particular the sipes, whose main purpose is to collect and retain the snow inside them, improving the grip by exploiting the “snow-against-snow friction”, which allows maximum mobility without the help of snow chains. In addition to the sipes, the generously-sized grooves (empty) allow the rapid and efficient disposal of water in case of rain, removing the danger of aquaplaning, ensuring greater driving safety on wet surfaces.

Winter tyres are also marked with the symbols M+S or M&S and M-S (where M means Mud and S means Snow) and more often accompanied by the 3PMSF marking (symbol of a snowflake inserted in a stylised mountain with three peaks or Three-Peak-Mountain with Snowflake).


For the most performing cars, Pirelli offers the P Zero Winter: a tyre developed together with car manufacturers and following Pirelli's perfect fit strategy to create a specific tyre for each car model, typical of the P Zero family. The Winter Sottozero 3 is the tyre designed specifically for the wide segment of high-end premium cars, that provide superior driving performance levels, while the Cinturato Winter targets drivers of city cars, urban SUVs and Crossovers. For latest-generation SUVs and CUVs, the Scorpion Winter should be a great fit, whereas the Carrier Winter is designed for Vans and light trucks.


If you use your car mainly around the city centre and you live in non-Alpine regions with temperatures that are usually between -5°C and +25°C, covering less than 25,000 km a year and you’re not looking for sports performance levels, then all season tyres are your best bet. The characteristics of a four season tyre are the design and chemistry of the tread, the result of a fine-tuned balance capable of operating both at high and low temperatures, on wet and dry road surfaces, generating good characteristics in terms of overall performance and versatility of behaviour. Despite not offering the specific performance of summer tyres in summer or winter tyres in winter, this type of tyre is still an excellent compromise in all the situations described.


Pirelli’s range of all season tyres is extensive and it covers all car categories. The Cinturato All Season Plus meets the needs of car owners with tyres measuring between 15 and 20 inches, who want to move around in a dimension of total mobility in an urban context. For those who own a Crossover or SUV, Pirelli offers the Scorpion Verde All Season SF and completes the range of four season tyres with the Carrier All Season dedicated to Vans and light commercial vehicles. The Cinturato All Season Plus and the Scorpion Verde all Season SF are also available with the innovative Seal Inside technology, which allows you to continue driving without air leaks even in case of a puncture of up to 4 mm. For Scorpion Verde All Season tyres, Pirelli's Self-Supporting Run Flat option is also available in case of punctures.

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