It’s a common conundrum: you’ve fitted winter tyres for the cold months but what do you do with them when the weather warms up? Can you use winter tyres in summer?
Do winter tyres work in the summer?
Winter tyres are designed with a tread pattern and compound (what they’re made from) that gives more grip when the temperature drops below 7 degrees C. But does that mean you can’t run them in the summer?
In the UK, we don’t generally have super-hot summers, although who knows if and how much that is going to change. Even so, the average high between June and September is just under 20 degrees C, not superhot but a long way from 7 degrees C.
There’s nothing in the law to stop you running winter tyres in the summer in the UK either.
Do winter tyres wear more in the summer?
Winter tyres are made from a softer compound of ingredients than their summer equivalents. They also tend to have more tread in contact with the road for more grip in slippery conditions. This means two things: when the weather’s hot, winters can wear more than their summer equivalents.
And because they have more rolling resistance than summer tyres, you’ll use more fuel.
What about safety?
Cold weather tyres are designed to give more grip than summer tyres when the weather’s cold. But in warmer temperatures, summer tyres are better at stopping on a wet surface than winter equivalents.
Summer tyres will also provide better handling than winter tyres in warmer weather. This is because the construction tends to be harder, the tread blocks move less and they offer more control in warmer weather.
What about winter vs budget tyres in summer?
When you decide on this, you’re really talking about the lesser of two evils. No quality tyre maker will recommend you run winter tyres in the summer. Equally, no quality tyre maker will instruct you to buy budget tyres, for obvious reasons.
When buying tyres, you should be looking to buy the safest you can get for your money. That means tyres that will hold the road well and stop smartly in wet conditions.
Neither winter, nor budget tyres will offer optimum safety in warmer conditions. In fact, a pair of cheap budget tyres may have worse performance than premium winter tyres in warm weather.
How to choose?
If you’re going to buy a second pair of tyres, we don’t think the performance differential between cheap summer and premium winters in warmer temperatures is going to be sufficient to warrant spending money on a pair of budget summer tyres. In this case, our advice would be to stick with the cold weather tyres through the summer months.
But really, the best solution is to use the right tyres for the right season. So spend a bit more than you would on the budget tyres and get some mid-range rubber for the summer to go with your premium winters.
Do that and you know you’ll be driving on the safest tyres for the conditions rather than compromising your safety and fuel economy to save a few quid.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.