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