Going tread to tread: Winter vs. all-weather tires vs. all-season tires

Nights are getting colder and the days are getting shorter, signalling the inevitable arrival of winter. When the temperature drops to 7°C consistently overnight it’s time to start winter car prep and brace for the snow, slush and ice.
For most drivers, this often means switching all-season tires for winters. But there is another option to consider as well — all-weather tires.

What is the difference between winter, all weather and all season tires?

Difference between winter tires, all weather tires, and all season tires

The primary differences between all-season, all-weather and winter tires are the rubber compounds used to build the tires, and the design of the biting edges and siping for traction, water and snow evacuation.

All-Season Tires

In Canada, a typical all-season tire performs optimally during the most temperate months of April-September, because when the average temperature hits 7°C point, the rubber compounds in all-season tires harden, reducing traction and braking ability. Many Canadian highways prohibit vehicles using all-season tires without chains during the winter months. Simply stated, all-season tires are not intended for extreme winter conditions (cold, ice, snow, slush), and does not carry the Three-peak Mountain Snowflake designation.

Blackhawk HH11 All-Season Tire

Featured Tire

Blackhawk HH11 All-Season Tire

The HH11 is an all-season touring tire engineered to deliver exceptional handling and all-season performance. Featuring 4 wide circumferential grooves, this helps channel water away delivering excellent wet weather traction.

All-Weather Tires

All-weather tires are designed with a more flexible rubber compound and are marked with the universal three-peak mountain snowflake symbol like winter tires. In comparison to all-season tires, all-weathers offer increased traction and control in cold conditions. They can be used year-round with no changeover, offering the added benefit of not having to store an extra set. They are best for drivers in milder winter climates, and not recommended for those who drive in areas that experience considerably colder temperatures and snow squalls.

Featured Tire

Blackhawk HH4S All-Weather Tire

The HH4S is a true all-weather tire designed for year-round use in Canada. Engineered to deliver performance throughout all unpredictable conditions, it provides the comfort and silence of all-season tires with the capabilities of a winter tire. The HH4S tire meets the service requirements for 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake certification, giving you the confidence to tackle all weather conditions.

Blackhawk HH4S all Season Tire

Winter Tires

Winter tires are your best bet if you drive in an area that experiences frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall throughout the season, as they give you the most control on icy, snow-covered roads. They are designed with a special rubber compound that is formulated to stay soft and flexible in temperatures below 7°C. Furthermore, they have two to three times the number of sipes than conventional all-season tires, providing hundreds of extra biting edges for better traction.

In Quebec, winter tires are mandatory on all vehicles from December 1st to March 15th inclusive.

Featured Tire

Blackhawk HW02 & HW03 Winter Tires

The HW02 & HW03 is Blackhawk’s studdable winter passenger tire range designed for drivers looking for unparalleled traction on ice and snow. The directional tread, with deep snow evacuation grooves and biting edge sipes, balances a smooth quiet ride with aggressive winter traction. The tread designs are engineered to provide excellent turning and stopping capabilities for even the worst Canadian winters.

Blackhawk HW06 Winter Tire

The HW06 is a Studdable tire designed for light trucks and SUVs. The aggressive directional tread pattern features X-Groove channels to evacuate slush and snow for superior traction on icy and snow-covered roads. Specially formulated tread rubber compound remains pliable and effective in the coldest temperatures.

Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol

When shopping for the best tire for your driving habits, look for the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol, which is located on the tire sidewall. This symbol means the tires meet Transport Canada specific snow traction performance requirements and are designed for use in snow and cold conditions.


Which tires are right for you? Visit your local OK Tire store to find the best tires for you this winter.
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