Driving on winter tyres in summer is a bad idea

In such weather, typical winter tyres only generate additional costs
You may not be aware of it, but there probably is someone in your circle of friends or neighbours who even now drives on winter tyres. Or maybe you are the one doing it? Is it worth the risk? Not every tyre can ensure safety at high speeds and hot surfaces of roads (even up to 60ºC) – certainly not a winter tyre. Unfortunately, many of us still drive on tyres, which were suitable for the seasons that have passed, even though car workshops work even during the pandemic, following the anti-coronavirus protection requirements. Remember that there are no tyres which will work great in all weather conditions – even all-season tyres are made with winter or summer in mind. Driving on typical winter tyres at the temperatures we have today is asking for trouble.

The fact that driving on winter tyres in summer is completely uneconomical is only part of the problem. Yes, when using tyres that are not suitable to the season, we make our fuel consumption increase by several percent and accelerate the wear of winter tyre tread, which is made of a softer rubber compound. It is above all dangerous – winter tyres decelerate badly in the summer and have a worse grip while cornering, both on dry and wet roads. They are also much less resistant to aquaplaning and in summer conditions overheat more, which can lead to damage of their internal layers. When driving at a speed of 140 km/h, a tyre in a popular size rotates over 1000 times per minute. What happens if an overloaded and hot winter tyre breaks in these conditions?

– The winter tyre tread is made of a softer rubber compound, so that at lower temperatures they do not become hard and remain flexible. This feature, which is an advantage in winter, becomes a big disadvantage in summer, when the temperature of roads reaches 50-60ºC and more. Then the grip of winter tyres grip drastically decreases. Winter tyres are not adapted to summer weather conditions! The use of winter tyres in the summer is therefore completely unjustified from the point of view of safety and economics of drivingpoints out Piotr Sarnecki, general director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

Let's not forget that the insurer may refuse to pay compensation or reduce its amount if the driver contributed to an accident by driving an inoperative car. In this case, it means driving on tyres that do not guarantee safe travel. Of course, the car is moving, but poor grip, greater susceptibility to slipping in the rain or even a braking distance longer up to several meters in an emergency situation should make you think reflect on the risk of such driving. When an accident is caused by a car with unsuitable tyres, the costs of settling the damage will far outweigh the sum of the cost of a new set of tyres and a full tank of fuel. Let us therefore be wise before the event – however trivial it might sound.

Some also try to completely wear off winter tyres, which are approaching the end of their lives in summer. It is very risky - with summer rains in our climate, their adhesion level, even on a straight road, is very low. There is also a group of drivers who think that winter tyres are just like all-season ones – no, they are not. If someone wants to have all-season tyres, they must buy them. What winter tyres with all-season and summer tyres have in common is that they are black and round. The vast difference in their performance in summer conditions can determine the health or life of the driver. There is no exaggeration here – the vehicle can only manage to brake before it hits an obstacle or fail to do so. According to tests of the German ADAC automobile club, the braking distance of a car on winter tyres in summer from 100 km/h to a complete stop can be up to 16 m longer than on summer tyres! That's four car lengths.

– If someone wants to drive only one set of tyres and mainly around the city, then good all-season tyres with winter homologation, which combine summer and winter type properties, will be a safe solution. However, one should buy this type of tyre in at least middle class, if not premium. All-season tyres, however, will always have only middle-range performance compared to tyres dedicated to a given season – even the best all-season tyres in the summer will not be as good as the best summer tyres, and in winter as good as the best winter tyres. However, with mileage below 10,000 kilometres, in smaller cars and only for city driving it will be a sufficient solution, much safer than driving on winter tyres in summer – adds Sarnecki.

Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association