Winter Safety, winter tyres or all season tyres? Here’s how to decide

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 Safety, winter tyres or all season tyres? Here’s how to decide
Winter Safety, winter tyres or all season tyres? Here’s how to decide

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 offering superior performance levels in keeping with Pirelli’s perfect fit strategy to develop a bespoke tyre tailored to every car model. The winter solutions from the two recently restyled ranges in accordance with Pirelli’s "Eco-safety design" approach are on the other hand the Cinturato Winter 2, designed for drivers of CUVs and Crossovers, and the Scorpion Winter 2, dedicated to SUVs. Another option to maintain control at low temperatures with high-end premium vehicles is the Winter Sottozero range, with the Winter Sottozero 3 and the Winter Sottozero Serie II.


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 latest new products to supplement the range include the Cinturato All Season SF2, which meets the needs of modern urban car owners, the latest models of crossover utility vehicles and medium saloon cars, with tyres ranging between 15 and 20 inches in size; and the Scorpion All Season SF2, developed specifically for SUVs. For owners of a Crossover or SUV, Pirelli also offers the Scorpion Verde All Season, which is also available in the SF (snow flake) version which guarantees driving safety also in moderate winter conditions.

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