When it becomes dangerous to ride on summer tyres?

Don't wait for snow - summer tyre grip is ending

There is no snow yet, and November is just around the corner. Is this a sufficient excuse to continue risking running on summer tyres? If you like to cheat yourself, then yes. Remember, however, that the limit temperature for summer tyres is 7ºC. Below, their tread becomes harder and does not provide adequate traction, and the braking distance increases significantly. In such weather as now – when the mornings are already cold and it often rains – good winter or all-season tyres with winter approval are the basis for safe driving.

So what if at 10st. C on a dry road when braking, a summer tyre will give an advantage of 20-30 cm over winter tyres – if this road is wet when returning home in the evening! And then summer tyres become dangerous. The difference in braking is greater than the length of your car... The examinations and tests[1][2] leave no doubt – a car equipped with winter tyres, driving on a wet surface, at temperatures above 2ºC and 6ºC, will stop earlier than with summer tyres by 11 and 7 meters, respectively. How long are your cars? And where will the cabin be with a longer braking distance?


In the final phase of braking, in the last few meters, the vehicle loses the most speed – unfortunately, a car with summer tyres will hit an obstacle before which the car on winter tyres will stop with a large safety margin. Unfortunately, this obstacle may be a pedestrian, whose chances of surviving such an accident are very low. Or a truck. And then your health and life will only be statistically probable. The laws of physics are absolute – the lower the temperature, the lower the grip of summer tyres and the longer the braking distance.

Every year, many drivers wait until the first snow has fallen before changing tyres – a completely illogical decision, because then we will be already late. We cannot count on the fact that we will somehow get to the service safe in time on hard summer tyres. I can assure you that even if the temperature rises to 10-15ºC for a moment – decent tyres with a snowflake symbol in the background of a mountain will still be a safer choice. Modern winter tyres ensure safety not only in frost and snow. This is a big change compared to gums from several years ago. Even at such temperatures as now – also on dry roads – they will not brake worse than summer ones. When the weather conditions worsen – and it happens so often, because this is the nature of autumn and winter – winter tyres will have a big advantage over summer tyres for our safety – underlines Piotr Sarnecki, General Director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

Why do winter tyres have better grip in cold weather?

Special rubber compounds containing silicas, resins and polymers used in the production of winter tyres and more aggressive tread patterns give them an advantage over summer tyres in the autumn and winter period. Such rubber does not harden when it gets cold. This means that winter tyres do not lose their flexibility and have better grip in cold temperatures – even on a dry road, in rain, and especially on snow. The tread of summer tyres must be hard to withstand the high summer temperatures. However, when the temperature drops below 7-10ºC, they become too hard to drive safely. If we do not have time to put on winter or all-season tyres now – then in the cold summer tyres will have almost the hardness of plastic. This greatly extends the braking distance. In addition, the tread of winter tyres has numerous cuts and grooves, designed for more difficult road conditions, biting into snow and efficient drainage of water and slush from under the wheels.

What to remember when buying new winter tyres?

If you have been riding your current winter tyres or all-season tyres for several years – check with a decent service center whether they will still be suitable for your safety on the road. If you are waiting for shopping, remember that approved winter and all-season tyres are those that have the so-called an alpine symbol – a snowflake on the background of three mountain peaks. Only they will work in winter conditions and have been thoroughly tested in this regard. The self-occurring M + S mark without the Alpine symbol means that such a tyre is neither a winter nor an all-season tyre – because it has not received winter approval.

Also, let's not experiment with sizes. It is best to have summer size tyres for winter. Thanks to this, driving in winter will be as pleasant as on summer tyres. After all, the car manufacturer has spent a lot of time and money selecting the right tyre size that works best with the suspension and weight.

If you want to decide to buy all-season tyres – remember that no set of rubbers of this type will match the performance of winter tyres in winter and summer tyres in summer. It is a product with a compromise performance. It will work for drivers who drive mainly in the city, with a smaller car, drive calmly and have mileage below 10,000. kilometers per year. It is also worth that new rubbers of this type should be at least in the middle of the price range – the price reflects the advancement of technologies used in the production of tyres and the quality of materials, and not every manufacturer is able to create mixtures of all-season rubber – ads Sarnecki.

Does the tyre production date matter? No – the best manufacturers provide warranties for new tyres from the date of their purchase, not production. New tyres are understood as unused, not just manufactured. You can be calm – rubbers do not lose their properties during storage. For 2 years in the warehouse, the tyre will "wear" in the same way as for 2 weeks while driving. Tyres manufactured even a few years ago are therefore a full-fledged product.

I have a 4x4 drive - I don't need winter tyres?

You may not, but your car is. 4x4s and SUVs are heavier and have a higher center of gravity compared to regular passenger cars. It is all the more important to use good quality seasonal tyres. 4x4 drive gives an advantage only when starting, but braking or cornering – with increased weight - require more grip than in a regular passenger car. Even cars with all possible safety systems need tyres with good grip. After all, sensors get the most information from the wheels ...

Does every workshop deserve our trust?

The best premium tyres of a reputable brand will be useless if you outsource the fitting service to a random workshop – which destroys the tyres because it has unserviced assembly machines and people from the "round-up" before the season. There are still services in Poland that even torture tyres during assembly. The Polish Tyre Industry Association – seeing the scale of the problem – together with the independent certification company TÜV SÜD introduced a system of evaluation and awarding professional services based on an independent audit of equipment and qualifications of technical personnel. You can find the map of the workshops that have passed the TÜV SÜD audit and received the Tyre Certificate on the website

[1] Belgian entity Pneuband in 2009

Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association