March has arrived and spring will follow soon. As the season changes, the demands on your tires are quite different. It is not unusual in some parts of the country to have a set of summer tires and a separate set of winter tires.
Why is that? In dry hot weather, tires made from softer compounds are what give it grip and stickiness on the road. However, in very cold weather these compounds harden and lose their sticking properties.
Changing tires is like changing clothes based on the season. You wouldn’t wear your summer clothes on a winters day and think everything was OK. With that in mind is it possible to have an all-season tire?
Yes, there is no shortage of tires marketed as all-season. Yet, within the car industry, they are sometimes referred to as ‘no-season.’ Simply because they don’t seem to be that useful in any season.
However, the Michelin CrossClimate claims to be a hybrid tire. That is a tire suitable for most seasons and conditions except snowfall that would need a dedicated winter tire.
So what’s the deal? Check out this comprehensive review.
Tires – Basic Principles
Before getting into the pros and cons of all-season tires and whether they are really worth it or not. It is helpful to understand some of the basic principles of tire design and makeup.
The rubber compound chosen will depend on the conditions in which the tire must perform. In hot weather, the compound must be sufficiently hard so that as it heats up it, does not breakdown and wear too fast.
As a rule summer tires are made from harder compounds. Of course, as the temperatures drop, these harder rubbers become even stiffer. That means their overall contact with the ground is reduced. This reduces the effectiveness of the tire to bring the vehicle to a stop during breaking.
In contrast, winter tires have a high rubber content and are softer. That means they are softer and more supple in colder weather. This gives better contact with the ground.
Tread Depth and Structure
Winter tires have deep treads that cut into snow and slushy surfaces to improve grip and stability on the road. Winter tires also have many small slices or grooves in the surface of the tread block. These are called sipes.
Their function is to create greater grip and to disperse water away from the contact surface of the tire so that the vehicle does not aquaplane.
Summer tires have fewer sipes but try to achieve the same basic idea by using specially designed treads. This helps water dispersal and reduce aquaplaning but does not provide the same level of grip as the water tire on snow and slush.
Summer tires employ a more simply tread design. The tread usually goes in the same direction and provides excellent contact with the road surface. This leads to shorter stopping distances when compared with tread designs for winter tires.
Winter tires have deeper tread patterns that allow snow to enter and become compacted. This is because of snow grips snow. Once the snow is within the tire, it will have better traction than just being in contact with the rubber.
Winter tread patterns are more complex-looking and angular to give better side to side grip so as to stop sliding. All-season tires attempt to draw on different aspects of these designs and in doing so tend to reduce the effectiveness of the tire in any one season.
Michelin CrossClimate – How Does It Measure Up?
Follow the principles above and see how the design and materials of this tire can compare with the overall characteristics you would expect of a winter or summer tire.
The Michelin CrossClimate is made from a specially designed rubber compound. The physical properties of this compound have enabled it to pass the traction tests needed to receive the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol (3PMSF).
That means it qualifies as a winter tire even though it will not perform on par with a dedicated winter tire in the worse conditions. If for example, you are driving a very expensive BMW, you will need to give careful consideration to the use of seasonal tires.
Tread Depth and Structure
An excellent innovation in this tire is the integration of 3-D self-locking sipes. This is a really clever design.
At a basic level, the design of the sipe is such that the surface of the sipe is below the tread and can change its shape as the tire is flexed and pressured under certain conditions.
This means the sipes are dynamic to some degree. In the worse conditions their topological shape changes to become more sipe-like and effective in gripping during snow and slush. In better weather, the sipes retain a more closed structure synonymous with summer tire designs.
As clever as these designs are if you are driving a heavy vehicle like a truck, you will need to stick with winter tires if you drive in harsh winter conditions.
The tread design is both simple and complex. The design is not as open as you would expect to see on a summer tire. The tread pattern has a beveled design that is highly directional.
This creates uniformity but also stability in more adverse conditions. The shoulders are open to help evacuate water in wet conditions. This has given the tire one of the shortest braking distances in wet conditions during industry tests.
If you want to but these type of tires at the best prices then think about using a black circles discount code to save money.
Michelin CrossClimate – Final Word
In this article, you have read about the principles of tire design and how the Michelin CrossClimate has very cleverly integrated aspects of those designs into one tire.
As long as you do not live in a part of the country with extreme winter conditions that require a dedicated tire, you will likely enjoy using this new all-season tire. That is especially helpful if you live in a place where the weather is so variable.
If you want to read more helpful articles like this check out this great post on DIY jobs you can on your own vehicle.