Riding on Winter Tires in Summer: Top Reasons to Reconsider
Many of us have thought of keeping those snow tires on throughout the summer out of lack of time, or to avoid the additional maintenance costs of switching them out.
However, there are many reasons that winter tires should not be driven during the summer. Here, we talk about them and some tips to make the transition between snow tires and summer tires much easier.
Snow tires and higher temperatures
Snow tires are made to be more efficient at lower temperatures. The softer rubber provides better traction and handling in temperatures below 7 °C.
Winter tires will wear down more quickly during summer months because pavement temperatures and friction remove more microscopic layers of the soft rubber on each trip. This reduces the lifespan of all four snow tires up to 60 percent! You may have to replace all of them after just a couple of years, potentially costing you double over switching them out with all-season tires when it's time.
Winter tires reduce fuel economy in the summer
Since winter tires are designed to be more pliable and change shape, they create more rolling resistance as they warm up during the summer. This creates additional drag during the rotation of each tire, thus requiring more fuel consumption in order to maintain cruising speed. It is no surprise this lowers fuel economy and piles up costs at the pump.
Snow tires affect handling and safety during the summer
Imagine driving down a highway in July and something unexpectedly falls from a truck in front of you. Which tire do you think will help you most to evade the object? Snow tires, with their softer treads, may increase braking time or cause the vehicle to deviate from the steering wheel commands you provide.
Summer tires will have a better grip on the road and better respond to your steering inputs, thus directing your vehicle to where you want it to go. They will also reduce braking distance dramatically.
When should you remove winter tires?
In Quebec and British Columbia, winter tires are mandatory. The former requires drivers to keep them on from December 1 to March 15, regardless of where you drive within the province. In B.C., it really depends on certain highways, from October 1 to March 31 or April 30. More technically, it is safer to remove them when temperatures consistently stay above 7°C. As temperatures reach 15°C to 20°C, then the soft rubber wears faster because of the warmer temperatures.
During the spring, when morning and evening temperatures reach below 7°C, but then rise to 10°C to 12°C during the day, many drivers still choose to keep them on since wear and tear is still rather minimal.
Here’s our full guide on when to remove winter tires (by province).
Summer tires optimize performance during the warm months
The treads and materials of summer tires optimize performance on warm roads. They perform better at higher temperatures without too much pliability as with their winter counterparts. The tread patterns whisk away rain and grip more effectively on dry, warm roads, whereas snow tires become too soft and reduce handling.
Plus, it is more fun to drive in summer weather with summer tires. They promote the proper feel and response of your vehicle.
3 tips for saving money when owning and maintaining winter and summer tires
- Watch out for tire mounting deals from auto shops and dealerships. If you have a rimmed, separate set of snow tires, you may have the skills and tools to properly change them out yourself when temperatures become appropriate.
- If you purchase a vehicle in the spring, you may find a bonanza of deals on a set of snow tires and rims. You can also take some time during this process and look into local online marketplaces for a new or used set.
- If you switch out your summer and winter tires at the proper time and have good driving habits, you will extend the life of your snow tires and save money over time. Imagine owning a set of capable snow tires for five or six seasons instead of two or three. It also reduces the occurrences and pain of the new tire purchasing and installation process.
Overall, riding snow tires during the summer months is not advised nor economical. With proper planning, you can make switching between snow and winter tires a simpler project, and you gain a peace of mind driving throughout the year. Check out these 5 winter tire money-saving tips.