Blog Winter Tires In Summer : Should I Use Them?

Feb 24, 2022

The Risks Of Driving Winter Tires In Summer

mechanic changing tires

Investing in winter tires can provide your vehicle with many benefits for driving in the winter. They include better traction, improved braking, better control and improved road safety in harsh winter conditions. But, not necessarily in the summer.

Using winter tires in summer can reduce their lifespan by 60% instead of if only used in winter. If winter tires are correctly used, they can last for multiple seasons. When you use them 12 months in a row, you will need to replace them a lot sooner. Plus, there are risks involved with using them.

Driving with winter tires in summer can cause many issues with your wheels, tire tread pattern, and lack the necessary qualities to have a safer drive. Not only are they safer, but you can also save money on car insurance quotes.

Can I use winter tires in summer?

You can, but it's highly recommended you do not use winter tires in summer.

The rubber is designed to work best in the cold - they are made with is less effective at dispersing heat, which increases the risk of over-inflating and blowouts.

  • Driving on winter tires in the summer can increase the braking distance by at least 10% on dry pavement and 26% on wet pavement.
  • Driving 90km/h on dry pavement with winter tires increases the braking distance up to 19%.
  • Driving 70km/h on wet pavement increases the braking distance by 42%.

The rubber compound in winters is softer; the tread changes shape more and will create more rolling resistance, and uses more gas if used in summer. The rubber is more flexible, which will affect how your vehicle will handle the road; sharp, sudden turns often result in a loss of control.

They are created to stay soft and grip at temperatures below 7°C. All-season and summer tires have a harder rubber and grip best at temperatures above 7°C.

What is the difference between winter and summer tires?

The main differences between winter and summer tires are the thread and the type of rubber. Snow tires have a deep tread pattern with thin cuts than summer tires with larger treads.

Summer, or all-season, tires are designed to be used above 7°C. Summer tires are made from a softer rubber and fitted with large tread blocks to give maximum contact with the road. Summer tires have more grip in warm weather and handle turning and braking better in wet and dry conditions. Summer tires do not grip well in cold weather, snow or ice. The regular tread is made for dry and wet conditions.

Once temperatures drop, the soft rubber begins to harden, and traction suffers. Colder temperatures can cause the tread block edge chipping, or the tread rubber can crack. Tire companies generally treat these issues due to improper use and will rarely be covered under warranty.

Winter tires are designed to handle cold weather and harsh elements. The treads have very thin cuts (sipes) across them. The tread helps to flush out excess slush buildup, and the sipes help pack snow the tread blocks allowing for traction with ice and snow. The rubber is specially designed to grip on cold, dry pavement.

When to change winter tires to summer tires in Ontario

Man changing tire outside

Once the daily temperature is consistently above 7°C, it’s time to put on your summer tires. This will ensure your tires are working to their optminal traction.

What happens to winter tires if they are used in summer?

If you use winters in the summer, the soft rubber tread will change shape, creating more resistance. Higher temperatures and summer roads will compromise acceleration, cornering and braking.

Three reasons why you should not use winter tires in summer

Here are three reasons why you should not use winter tires in summer :

  1. Faster wear and tear
  2. The rubber on winter tires will wear down quickly on warm and hot road surfaces. The tread will wear down faster and unevenly due to the heat.

  3. Poor performance on dry pavement
  4. Winter tires will lack traction and handling in the summer. They perform better with ice and snow.

  5. Poor fuel economy
  6. You will use more gas to compensate for the lack of acceleration and traction. Summer tires have a harder compound that allows them to roll better.

    Winter tires in summer FAQs

    Using winter tires in summer can cause the rubber and tread to wear down quickly. The heat can increase the risk of a blowout. The risk of hydroplaning also increases because winter tires don’t grip as effectively compared to summer or all-season tires in warm, wet weather.

    There is no law for having winter tires in Ontario, but it's worth considering to have a safer drive and save on auto insurance in Ontario. Quebec and British Columbia are the only provinces in Ontario where it is mandatory to have winter tires.

    The increased grip and traction from winter tires will increase fuel consumption because they provide greater resistance. This will cost you more money in fuel.

    You will significantly reduce the lifespan of your winter tires if you use them in warm conditions. How long they will last will depend on how often you drive, their age and their condition.

    Depending on the type of tires, winters will generally be narrower than all seasons. Tires are measured by their width in millimetres - that's why buying the right type for your vehicle is important.

    Remember to swap your winter tires in summer

    While you may think it will save you time and money to leave your winter tires on in the summer, it can cost you more, especially if you drive a lot. Don’t allow your winter tires to wear prematurely. Only use them when they are supposed to be used – in the winter.