Why You Shouldn’t Use Winter Tires In Summer

The Temptation To Use Winter Tires In Summer

It is recommended that every car owner switch to winter tires in the colder months. Winter tires are great at handling the dangerous road conditions found during winter driving. The thought of using winter tires in the summer months might sound like a great idea to many people. Using winter tires in summer and winter would certainly save you a lot of hassle since you wouldn't have to get your tires switched twice a year. You'd be covered in the off chance that a snowstorm happens after you've switched back to all-season tires or if there's ice in the earlier part of fall. Also, it would make sense that since you already have winter tires on, you would be getting your winter tire insurance discount. Unfortunately, things are a little bit more complicated than that.

Can You Use Winter Tires In Summer?

While you technically can use winter tires in summer, it is not recommended. There are many reasons for this, the majority of them are safety-related, such as increased brake distance and trouble turning, very similar to the problems you would face for using all-season tires in winter. There are also issues like increased hydroplaning.

In addition to the safety issues, there are many economic ones, including the fact that winter tires will wear out faster in the summer and that your car will be less fuel-efficient if you do this.

What Tires Should I Use In Summer?

Summer tires or all-season tires are ideal for warmer temperatures. 

Summer tire treads are much finer, and they are made of a different, harder type of rubber compound. This allows them to function well in the warmer conditions found on summer roads. 

All-season tires are designed to be a happy medium between winter tires and summer tires. They will still perform very competently in the warmer months and can handle situations that aren't very extreme in either direction. They can handle both wet conditions and dry ones.

Is It Dangerous To Drive On Winter Tires In Summer?

It is absolutely dangerous to drive on winter tires in summer for a number of reasons.

The first is that winter tires don't brake very well in summer. The tighter, deeper and softer treads that cause snow tires to have a better grip in cold weather will create the inverse effect on warm roads. This is especially true on wet roads. Varying tests show that when you use winter tires in summer, brake distance increases by up to 19% on dry roads and, even more terrifyingly, as high as 42% on wet pavement in warm temperatures. Such braking distance increases can result in a collision, especially if you aren't compensating for these longer brake times. 

The softer compound that makes winter tires more suitable for turning in sub-zero temperatures gives them less traction while in summer conditions. This poorer traction can lead to problems when taking tight turns and cause slipping when on wet surfaces, which is more likely to lead to hydroplaning, also known as aquaplaning. For those unaware, aquaplaning is when a tire is no longer able to contact the road. This usually happens when the tire is unable to displace water fast enough. Summer and all-season tires have increased aquaplaning resistance, minimizing the chance of this critical situation.

Is It Illegal To Use Winter Tires In Summer?

While it is not illegal to use winter tires in summer, in any higher temperatures, it is not recommended.

How Bad Is Driving On Winter Tires In Summer?

Driving on winter tires in summer can have consequences including accelerated wear and tear, less efficient braking, and poor handling.  To ensure your safety on the road, it is recommended that you use summer or all season tires in the warmer months. 

What Happens If You Use Winter Tires In Summer?

In addition to longer brake times, poor handling, and increased hydroplaning, if you use winter tires in summer, the tires will wear out faster. Hot weather has a negative impact on your winter tires, wearing them down faster, as their softer, more flexible material will suffer damage more quickly, leading to faster wear. The lifespan difference is pretty big, as they wear down much faster during a warmer season than they do in cold driving conditions. This means you will have to buy new tires more frequently, meaning that you will be spending more money instead of saving it.

In addition, using winter tires in summer will increase rolling resistance, which means your car will need to spend more energy (fuel) to move at the same speed, leading to poor fuel efficiency. Increased fuel consumption will mean that you need to fill up at the gas station more often, further punishing you financially for not switching to the correct type of tires for summer weather.

Using winter tires in summer also creates excessive noise when compared to their all-season counterparts. 

Can Winter Tires Explode In Summer?

Using winter tires in summer will not cause them to 'explode' in the traditional sense. They will not combust and then blow up. However, even though they won't blow up, this means that they may blow out. The rubber in winter tires is at an increased risk of blowing out when being used outside of the cold weather conditions they were meant for.

A tire blowing out is when it suddenly 'pops,' leading to air rushing out and a massive loss in tire pressure. The results are immediately noticeable and often cause tires to flatten quickly. Driving on a blown-out tire is a massive concern, as it causes a bunch of problems. The first and most obvious is safety. Driving on a blown-out tire dramatically increases your chance of getting into a collision. Even if you don't get into an accident, every second that you drive will cause further damage to the tires, the wheel that the blown out tire is on, as well as the car itself. While it is possible for you to minimize the risk and damage created by this situation by prompting pulling over, it's best to avoid the situation in the first place.

How Long Can I Use Winter Tires In Summer?

It can be difficult to time when to switch from using winter tires to using all-season or even summer tires. This is due to the fact that every year has different temperature fluctuations. It is best, however, to ensure that by the time summer arrives, you have switched away from winter tires already, as using winter tires in spring can have similar side effects to using them in the summer, although not to the same extreme. 

How Fast Do Winter Tires Wear Out In Summer?

There is added wear and tear on winter tires in summer due to the fact that their softer, more flexible material is more vulnerable to being slowly damaged over time in warmer weather. In fact, they get worn down 60% faster than they normally would in the hot conditions they are vulnerable to, rather than they do in the cold conditions they are built for. This means that if you use them for an entire calendar year, they will almost certainly be worn out within the year, meaning you will need to replace your tires annually anyway. Cutting corners by not using winter tires won't even work in that regard, so make sure you are using the correct tires each season.

When Should I Switch To All Season Tires?

There is not a specified date as to when you should officially make the change. Even if they were, the businesses that make the changes would be overrun with customers for a few days per year and not very active for the rest of it. However, there are guidelines that you can follow.

When you start to face temperatures above 7 degrees, all-season tires begin to become more beneficial than the winter specialists. 

However, the time this happens can be different every year. Weather in Ontario is notoriously difficult to predict, as it seems like whenever spring is around the corner, we find out that, somehow, Jack Frost has returned. When to make the switch will come down to a combination of how that specific year is playing out, your personal comfort with the two types of tires in question, your prediction for the weather, and your personal schedule. As long as you use 7 degrees Celsius as a general guideline, you should be good. 

Winter Tires Have Their Niche, But So Do Other Tires

While it might seem like winter tires are bad, they're not. They certainly serve their role, and it's best to leave them to that. Just because something is good at a single role doesn't mean that they're good at everything. It's like roles on a sports team, where even in their primes, you wouldn't put Wayne Gretzky in the net as a goalie, Michael Jordan out as a center, Tom Brady as a kicker, or Lionel Messi on defence. Tires are the same way; they're designed for a specific role, and it is best to let them excel at the role meant for them. 

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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