The seasons are changing, and winter is on the horizon. It's getting cold, and perhaps there's a bit of snow or ice on the road. You know you should, but changing the tires on your car can be a hassle. You're wondering whether you can leave the summer tires on your vehicle. The short answer is no. Using summer tires in winter conditions is dangerous and risks damaging your tires.
It may depend on local weather conditions. If it's dry all year long and doesn't dip below freezing, you may get away with summer tires in the mild winter. Be aware that it must also remain warm. Summer tires will get damaged in the cold. With only occasional bouts of freezing, all-season tires may be an option.
We recommend against using summer tires if there's any snow, it's icy, or the temperature is frequently freezing. Winter is a time to put winter tires on your car.
Summer tires have lower rolling resistance than winter tires; this improves efficiency and handling while also reducing noise levels. The tread on these performance tires, however, performs poorly on ice and snow.
In winter weather, summer tires have poor acceleration. Winter tires or snow tires will outperform them on snowy roads. Summer tires have low rolling resistance, resulting in long brake distances on ice or snow. A winter tire has a deep tread that digs into snow and grips to ice, providing shorter braking time. By contrast, the compound of winter tires is much softer and less vulnerable to cold temperatures.
The rubber compound on summer tires is designed for warm weather. As the temperature drops, the rubber stiffens. Even if there is no snow or ice, the tire loses traction.
Even all-season tires suffer from less effective snow traction. These tires have an increased risk of slippage while turning, accelerating, and braking. In regions with heavy snowfall, we recommend swapping out the all-season tires for winter tires.
Even on dry roads without ice and snow, winter brings colder temperatures. Summer tires are not built for cold weather. The tire tread will stiffen. In addition to reducing traction, this poses a risk to the tire itself.
The tire loses its elasticity and may crack. There's a risk of chipping of the overly stiff thread block. Chipped and cracked tires are not safe to drive on and must be replaced.
Driving with summer tires in the winter can be considered improper use, and the warranty will usually not cover resulting damage.
If your local weather conditions are mild, you may equip your car with all-season tires in the winter, or year-round. The right tire depends on how cold it gets, plus your driving style and number of kilometers driven.
All-season radials are not suitable for extreme winter conditions, however. They brake slower than winter tires, posing a safety risk. They are also less efficient in warm, dry conditions than a summer tire.