The whole point of winter tires is the soft rubber compound, so when it gets cold, they stay supple. They stay more like foam rubber than a hockey puck. You can imagine on a dry piece of pavement when it’s cold out, push a hockey puck across the surface, it’s still pretty hard rubber and doesn’t really adhere to the surface, whereas a foam rubber sort of digs in and grabs the surface better. When it’s cold, you’re always going to get better traction on a winter tire. In fact, even in summer on a dry pavement, you’ll get better traction on a winter tire than you would with an all season tire
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The all-weather tire is another designation that’s thrown around especially by a couple of brand names. It’s a tire that’s just soft enough or just pliable enough to qualify as a winter tire that’s in the compound of the tread blocks but designed to be used all year long, more like an all season. The problem is that it’s not perfect at either thing. It’s still too hard to be fully optimized as a winter tire. You’re better off getting a pure winter tire.
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In Quebec, it is the law that all vehicles require four winter tires. With two winter tires. You’re almost creating a more dangerous scenario because you’re creating an inherent handling imbalance. You’ve got great traction on one end and poor traction on the other. For example, take a front wheel drive car and put winter tires on the front, so you can accelerate better. Under braking weight transfers to the front, so you get good traction on the front, and you're still able to steer with those good winter tires you have on the front. But if you still have all seasons on the back, those brakes lock up and suddenly the car’s inherently unstable. It can spin off the road backward, or worse hit something else. Always put on four winter tires.