Summer Tyres Vs Winter Tyres

Within Europe and other countries that experience extreme weather conditions, it is a legal requirement for drivers to own both summer and winter tyres plus there are strict regulations as to what month and date in the year you have to switch!  In the UK drivers are not legally required to own 2 sets of tyres and that the majority of owners tend to drive on summer tyres all year round. However, we believe it is still worth investing in winter tyres as well as summer tyres.

Of course, to first decide whether it’s worth your time and money, you’ll need to know a bit more about these types of tyres…..

There is no denying that winter tyres offer more grip than summer tyres, in temperatures below 5-7c.   Below Zero degrees C, that performance gap is even wider. Temperatures below 7°C are not a rarity in the UK. Below this point, Summer tyres are much less effective.

Winter Tyres: What are they and what makes them unique?

Winter tyres, in comparison to summer tyres, are solely designed to give drivers maximum control during those wintry snowy and icy conditions.  So, what makes them unique and so effective? Unlike summer tyres which consist of a hard compound, winter tyres tend to be softer and much more supple. This suppleness remains consistent even when the temperatures drop dramatically. Winter tyres can be put on from October and can be effective right through until March or until the temperatures begin to increase.

Compared to summer tyres, Winter tyres have many more grooves and tread features tyres. These additional grooves help to disperse water in wet and rainy conditions and help to maintain a good grip of the road. These groove and tread patterns are manufactured in a way that they are also deep enough to hold in packed snow, which greatly improves traction when you find yourself driving on snow.

UK winters can be extreme and if you do experience harsh and extreme winters then summer tyres won’t be good enough – it’s as simple as that.  Below 7°C, summer tyres become far too brittle to give you the grip and control required for such conditions. Winter tyres by comparison help you maintain control in conditions that can otherwise be extremely dangerous for you to drive in.

If you commute during the colder and wetter Autumn/Winter months and rely on your car to get to work, winter tyres will give superior grip on cold and frosty mornings. Additionally, winter tyres offer peace of mind to drivers who don’t feel particularly confident when the weather starts to turn towards snow and ice.

Summer Tyres: What are they?

Once the cold, wet and icy conditions of Winter have passed and Spring is in the air, drivers can look to consider switching from winter to summer tyres.

As the name suggests, summer tyres are designed to perform effectively during the warmer months of the year. In the UK, drivers tend to keep summer tyres on all year, as most of our winters are usually a lot milder than our European counterparts.  However, with global climate issues, the seasons cannot always be as predictable…

Summer tyres are made up of a hard compound that doesn’t soften easily, even with big increases in temperatures during those summer months. This means that they give good road grip in hot conditions and with far less friction. This in turn also makes them pretty fuel efficient.

Summer tyres don’t have as many groove or tread features (unlike winter tyres), or as much depth. Despite this, they are highly effective with steering and dry grip in hot weather conditions.  Their tread depth is also handy in reducing any aquaplaning in wet conditions. However, once Summer fades and temperatures start to reach below 7°C, it’s time to put your summer tyres away and replace with winter tyres.  This is because the hard compound that make up your summer tyres starts to get brittle. In turn, this means they don’t offer you as much grip, which in icy and snowy conditions, could be catastrophic.

What are the cost implications of owning Winter Tyres and Summer Tyres?

Purchasing a set of Winter tyres can be a good investment. Not only will it help you stay safe when conditions get extreme, it will also help extend the life of your summer tyres and they will therefore last much longer. After all, if you are not using them as much, then logically they are going to have a much longer lifespan.  In this case, you might actually save some money by switching between summer and winter tyres.

One thing to consider prior to making your purchase is from a practical perspective.  Have you got the space to store your Summer tyres once you have made the switch from your winter tyres? You will ideally need to store your tyres somewhere dark and dry where they will remain in good condition until you need them again next year.  Perhaps your local garage might be happy to store them for you.    It might also be an idea to set yourself a calendar reminder date to remind you to make the switch again when the weather turn.   Remembering that – Winter tyres aren’t suitable for hot conditions and Summer tyres will not last long in extreme, icy and snowy conditions.

Is worth making the switch from Winter Tyres to Summer Tyres Each Year?

After considering the Pro’s and Cons of Winter V Summer tyres above, there is no doubt that there are benefits of owning both sets of tyres.  If you live in a more remote region, or in the countryside, then Winter tyres can give you the freedom of the roads again and the confidence to do so, giving you the control to remain safe throughout any journey.  Winter tyres could also prove to be a good investment if you lack confidence and simply dislike driving during the winter months. Winter tyres can give you peace of mind and you can’t put a price on that…

Why not have a read of our tips for driving in the winter in the cold, ice and snow.  If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or visit our Banbury tyres centre and Southam tyres centre.

Jan 8, 2020


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