In this section, we will explain why driving on winter tires in the summer months is a bad idea. The reasons are quite compelling, and we're sure you'll agree.
There are good reasons why winter tires are so indispensable in winter. They're made from specialized, flexible rubber compounds and feature unique tread designs to deliver the best grip in snowy and icy road conditions. They function at their best in cold temperatures and winter precipitation, providing confidence and security to drivers in potentially hazardous situations.
But while such tires are the undisputed champion when it comes to colder climates, those same features put them at a disadvantage if used in warmer temperatures. A dry road without ice or snow doesn't need tires biting edges to provide traction.
The softer tread of a winter tire wears out a lot quicker on warm tarmac. It's the rubber compound, which is formulated to stay soft and pliable when temperatures plummet below 7 °C (46 °F). It's very effective for mitigating the negative impact of cold temperatures and provides traction in winter conditions.
But if you run a set of winter tires throughout the year, that same flexible tread will wear down more quickly in warmer temperatures. It reduces the service life by as much as 60 percent. There's a strong chance you'd have to replace them earlier than if you'd simply remove them at the beginning of spring.
Our recommendation for hot weather is to use all-season or summer tires which, by comparison, are manufactured with a different blend of rubber designed to withstand higher temperatures. And – you guessed correctly – looking at it another way, the compounds used in summer tires would soon turn hard and brittle if driven in winter conditions.
If you use winter tires in summer, another thing to know is that you'll end up paying more for fuel.
On warm pavement, the rolling resistance of a winter tire is substantially higher than a summer or all-season tire. That's because the softer rubber compound changes shape more. It leads to higher rolling resistance, which leads to an increase in fuel consumption, which means you'll need to visit the gas station more often than necessary.
The consequences of driving on winter tires in summer affect the environment and general quality of life. By consuming more fuel, your car will emit higher amounts of carbon dioxide. Plus, it'll be noisier, which makes journeys less comfortable.
If you don't switch to all-season or summer tires during warm weather, your car will not have optimal handling capabilities for safety – especially if you're forced to make sudden turns.
Let's imagine a scenario where a driver has to make an emergency maneuver. Winter tires on dry pavement are too soft. The handling won't be as responsive as it could be in a critical situation.
Also, the stopping distance is extended. Testing shows that driving on winter tires in summer increases the braking distance by at least 10 percent on dry pavement and 26 percent on wet pavement.
From a long-term perspective, winter tires which have been left on throughout the spring, summer, and autumn all the way until the next winter will probably have worn tread blocks (because of their softer compound). Winter tires with insufficient tread depth won't provide as much grip or traction on snowy and icy surfaces, and this is a significant consideration for driving safety.