In countries with colder climate, drivers have to use winter tires for the colder part of the year. And, as you may know, winter tires are not good for summer, because they wear out too quickly. But what if it doesn’t matter anymore, because the tires are old? And why do they wear out so quickly? Do they give more grip in summer?
First of all, the main difference between winter and summer tires is the hardness of the rubber compound. Winter tires are much softer, because cold temperatures generally make rubber harder. It means that at the right temperature the tire can be at the right kind of hardness, ensuring maximum possible grip. Summer tires are much harder, but at warm temperatures they soften quickly.
Because winter tires are softer, they wear down that much quicker. So why would you waste your money and drive on winter tires in summer? Well, you should not, but some people have some rather solid reasons.
Depending on where you live and how you drive, winter tires last for a couple of seasons. But even when they are not good for winter anymore, they can still be driven through summer, because they still have enough thread depth. So, if the tire is on its way out, you might as well use every last bit of it and save your summer tires. But is it safe? Some people say that winter tires will provide you even more grip in summer, since they are softer, but that is not the case.
Yes, generally speaking, a softer rubber compound provides more grip. But, surprise surprise, summer tires are made specifically for summer, so they do provide as much grip as possible. Meanwhile, winter tires will be too soft and will make the car slightly wobbly. And, contrary to what people might think, they are less grippy under braking.
The YouTube channel Engineering Explained conducted a test that revealed what we already knew – winter tires are not so good for summer.
Is it enough to cause a safety problem? Well, everything depends on the driver and many people are actually doing it. In an ideal situation, people would be driving specific tires for each of the seasons, but that is up to the driver.