Can You Use Summer Tires in Winter?

If you think changing your summer tires when the winter comes is not economical, you are probably right. When the winter is approaching, we sometimes think of leaving the summer tires on our vehicle to save some pennies. But the question is: Can you use summer tires in winter?

In the winter, summer tires underperform when exposed to a condition that does not fit their role. They use a compound that could not stand cold temperatures. Their traction on ice and snow is inferior. Therefore, using your summer tires for winter driving is not a good idea as it compromises your safety.

Stick around as I will elaborate further on why you should not use your summer tires in winter. We will focus on a couple of factors that make the summer tire dangerous for winter driving.

Summer Tires Crack in Cold Conditions

There is a big difference between the rubber compound used in summer tires versus the compound used in winter tires. 

Summer tires’ compound delivers excellent grip and handling on dry roads and wet roads in warmer conditions. On the other hand, the silica compound on winter tires provides an outstanding grip on snow, ice, and wet roads in cold conditions.

Summer tires usually experience irreversible cracks when exposed to cold conditions. Now, you can’t be driving around with crack tires. Instead of damaging your summer tires, you can keep them for next summer. You should be able to use them again as long as they are stored properly.

Summer Tires Have Poor Traction on Ice and Snow

You might want to know why summer tires don’t perform well on ice and snow like winter tires. Let’s talk about it.

Winter tires use a silica compound that does not harden at a temperature below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it can keep strong traction in cold conditions because the tread does not stiffen.

The tread and siping design of the summer tire are also not compatible with wintry road conditions. Winter tires feature a deep tread design with multiple sipes to create more biting edges for the best performance on ice and snow. Summer tires don’t have these features.

Summer tires have shallower treads that can compact the snow on impact, making it prone to hydroplaning.

Take a look at the key differences between summer tires and winters below to understand further why you must not use your summer tires in winter.

Summer vs. Winter Tires

Summer Tires

  • Performs best in warm conditions
  • Made of a hard rubber compound that softens in milder temperatures
  • Features fewer sipes compared to winter tires
  • Not ideal for use in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Usually have a simple blocked-shaped tread pattern to ensure excellent handling and short braking distance

Winter Tires

  • These tires use a rubber compound that stays supple in the cold 
  • The soft rubber compound ensures a good grip and handling
  • Performs best for temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Features multiple sipes that evacuate water to avoid hydroplaning
  • It further features deep treads that provide optimal grip on ice and snow

Conclusion

Summer tires are for summer use only. Their tread design is just not practical in winter road conditions. In addition, the rubber compound they use is prone to cracking when exposed to a cold temperature.

I would insist that you must not compromise your safety by using your summer tires in winter. It is just a dangerous decision. You are prone to experience hydroplaning and possible accidents because your summer tires cannot provide good traction and braking distance in roads covered with ice and snow.

Ditching your summer tires in the winter does not mean that you will no longer use them at all. Summer comes and goes. As long as you properly store your summer tires, you can surely re-use them the following summer.

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