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Can I Drive on Summer Tires in the Winter? 

Can I Drive on Summer Tires in the Winter? 

Winter is approaching as the season’s change. It’s getting cold outside, and some snow or ice might be on the road. You know you should, but changing your car’s tires can be a chore. You’re wondering if you should keep your summer tires on your vehicle. But can you use summer tires in winter? Keep reading to find out!

What Are Summer Tires?

Summer tires, also known as performance tires, are specifically designed to be used in dry and wet conditions during hot summer.

They are ideal for high-performance vehicles and are designed for speed and agility, with increased responsiveness, cornering, and braking capabilities.

 Their tread patterns include shallow, straight grooves and solid, continuous grooves to increase rubber contact with the road,

Summer tires also have a specialized tread compound that can withstand heat while maintaining traction, allowing for better control on hot summer asphalt.

Summer tires are intended for use when the temperature is consistently above seven degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, they lose their grip and perform poorly below this temperature.

Advantages of Summer Tires

Summer tires provide a variety of benefits when used in the proper season, weather, and road conditions—warmer months in the summer and spring—including:

  • Improved traction and handling on the road
  • Provide shorter stopping distances
  • Lower the risk of hydroplaning on wet surfaces 
  • Enhanced speed and agility
  • Increased cornering abilities 

Using the appropriate tires for weather conditions also helps reduce friction, contributing to improved fuel efficiency.

It also reduces tread wear, which means tires don’t need to be replaced frequently and can be used for much longer before needing to be replaced.

Summer vs. Winter Tires: The Difference Is in The Tread 

The former has lower rolling resistance and a softer rubber compound that performs best in warm weather. However, as the weather cools and temperatures drop, the rubber on a summer tire hardens and provides much less traction.

On the other hand, winter tires perform best when temperatures are below 7 Degrees Celsius. This is because they have a deep tread design with cuts across it—sipes—that aid in traction on packed ice and snow.

While they both perform best at certain temperatures, they underperform at temperatures above or below their optimal operating temperatures. As a result, driving with summer tires in the winter and winter tires in the summer compromises safety.

The Risks of Driving on Summer Tires in the Winter

  • Traction and grip loss

The rubber compound in summer tires stiffens as the temperature drops, resulting in a loss of traction on ice and snow. This means that summer tires, which provide predictable traction in warm to hot conditions, will be difficult to drive in cold to freezing temperatures.

Summer tires also have low rolling resistance, which results in long braking distances on ice or snow. 

  • Risk of cracking

Even on dry roads without ice and snow, winter brings colder temperatures. When exposed to this cold temperature, summer tire treads stiffen. In addition to reducing traction, this puts the tire at risk. The tire’s elasticity deteriorates, and it may crack. There’s also a chance that the thread blocks will chip, necessitating a premature replacement.

Are all-season tires a good alternative?

All-season tires are a popular compromise when you find yourself in a position where you can’t change tires each season. They perform adequately in warmer temperatures but never to the level of a dedicated summer tire.

And on the other side of the coin, all-season tires can perform adequately in the snow, provided it’s not deep snow. However, they will not have a true winter tire’s exact cornering and handling performance.

They are only ideal for drivers living in mild conditions. We recommend getting dedicated tires for each season for optimal performance, cost-effectiveness, and safety. 

Bottom Line

If you live in a snowy area, we recommend that you switch out your summer tires for winter rubber when the snow begins to fall and then switch them back when spring arrives.