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Summer Tyres

What are summer tyres used for?

Summer tyres are best thought of as mild weather car tyres.

They’re broadly suitable in most ‘standard’ road and climate conditions, as long as the weather doesn’t become too cold or wet. Unless you live in areas that experience a particularly severe climate with excessive rain, ice and/or snow, summer tyres will likely be a sensible choice outside of the coldest winter months.

In fact, summer tyres tend to offer the best all-round performance of any car tyre type during normal road driving in mild, average and warmer temperature conditions.

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Are summer tyres ok in the rain?

Generally speaking, yes. Good quality, reliable summer tyres tend to cope very well on damp roads, provided they don’t become too cold.

You don’t need to live in a particularly warm and sunny climate to get the best out of summer tyres, either. They perform just fine in mild or average temperatures, and during wet weather spells too. This means summer tyres in the UK are an excellent choice during the typical spring and summer months, good for most drivers and standard passenger cars. (Note that requirements for SUV tyres and van tyres are often slightly different.)

As a general rule of thumb, summer tyres are suitable for use in any relatively mild weather. This applies as long as temperatures aren’t approaching freezing (i.e. much lower than about 5-7 celcius), and there isn’t an excessive amount of water on the road surface.

How do summer tyres work?

Summer tyres are generally made from harder compounds, containing a lower proportion of natural rubber than equivalent winter or all-season tyres. During average spring and summer temperatures, this compound naturally warm and softens slightly when driving on the roads.

The tread on summer tyres is noticeably less deep than that on all-season or winter tyres. They also tend to have fewer sipes, which are the sideways or zig-zagging grooves cut into the tread pattern for helping to evacuate water, slush and dirt.

However, they do often feature specially designed tread bars as part of the tyre pattern. This helps to lower the risk of aquaplaning, and improves overall latitudinal and longitudinal grip on both dry and damp surfaces.

Being made from a more rigid compound means that summer tyres usually wear more slowly than softer winter tyres when driven in appropriate conditions. Summer tyres have a lower rolling resistance than winter tyres, which helps to increase both handling response and overall efficiency. It also lowers road noise, resulting in a smoother and more comfortable ride quality.

When should I change my summer tyres?

The key point to bear in mind with these tyres is that they’re less suitable for use in more extreme conditions. This means when outdoor temperatures start to approach freezing (below 5 celsius), when road surfaces are very wet, or especially when there’s any slush, ice or snow on the ground. That means that it may be worth considering swapping your summer tyres in winter.

Under these harsher winter conditions, summer tyres will not perform nearly as well as winter tyres. This happens because summer versions struggle to reach the required temperature for their compound to soften in colder climates. As a result, they remain too stiff and brittle to work properly.

Braking and handling can both be affected significantly, and the tyres themselves will damage far more quickly. Performance on ice, snow and slush will be especially poor, with greatly extended braking distances as the shallow tread struggles to gain traction.

When summer tyres stiffen and lose elasticity in the cold, there’s an increased risk of them cracking or chipping around the tread blocks. This is unsafe, and will require you to perform a replacement tyre fitting immediately. Note that most warranties won’t typically cover damage to summer tyres caused by driving them in unsuitable conditions.

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Ratings from A-G
A = Best Fuel Economy

WET GRIP wet grip

Ratings from A-G
A = Best wet weather

NOISE LEVEL noise level

The lower the decibel,
the quieter the tyre