Why you shouldn't drive on winter tyres in summer | Continental tyres

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Winter tyres in summer

Winter Tyres in Summer


In this section, we will explain why driving on winter tyres 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 tyres are so indispensable in winter. They're made from specialised, 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 tyres 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 a tyre with biting edges to provide traction.


1. Winter tyres don't like warm roads

The softer tread of a winter tyre 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. 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 tyres 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 per cent. There's a strong chance you'd have to replace them earlier than if you'd simply swapped them for summer tyres at the beginning of spring.

Our recommendation for hot weather is to use all-season or summer tyres 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 tyres would soon turn hard and brittle if driven in winter conditions.


2. Reduction in fuel economy

If you use winter tyres in summer, another thing to know is that you'll end up paying more for fuel.

On warm tarmac, the rolling resistance of a winter tyre is substantially higher than a summer or all-season tyre. 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 petrol station more often than necessary.

The consequences of driving on winter tyres 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.


3. Impacts on handling and safety

If you don't switch to all-season or summer tyres 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 manoeuvre. Winter tyres on dry tarmac 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 tyres in summer increases the braking distance by at least 10 per cent on dry tarmac and 26 per cent on wet tarmac.

From a long-term perspective, winter tyres that 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 tyres 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. 

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