Summer Tyres in Winter

Can You Use Summer Tyres in Winter in the UK?

Due to the mild winters that the UK experiences, it is not a legal requirement to switch to winter tyres throughout the colder months. It is however recommended as general guidance that when the temperature drops below 7°c winter tyres are better suited to providing optimum performance in colder temperatures. The compound in winter tyres is able to remain more elastic at lower temperatures helping the tyre to gain stronger traction and grip which ultimately helps with handling and braking during cold snaps, ice and snow. 

What’s The Difference Between Summer and Winter Tyres?

Aside from the clear difference in the season in which the tyres are designed to used, summer and winter tyres also contain different technologies: 

Summer Tyres

  • Designed to be used in temperatures above 7°c as a rule of thumb
  • Rubber compound designed for excellent handling and traction in wet and dry summer conditions
  • Tread designed for outstanding braking on wet and dry roads

Winter Tyres

  • Recommended to perform best in temperatures below 7°c
  • Designed with tread and sipes that help to provide grip on snow, ice and heavy downpours
  • Rubber compound designed to remain soft in colder conditions to help with traction and braking

Winter Tyre: Winter Sport 5

The grip you need for unforeseen winter roads
  • Supreme lateral grip on slippery surfaces
  • Enhanced performance on snow-covered roads
  • Aquaplaning defense
  • Fuel effciency

Braking Distances on Summer & Winter Tyres

The below diagram illustrates the difference in braking distances across a range of temperatures and seasons comparing winter and summer tyres:

Braking distances of summer and winter tyres - Dunlop Source: BTMA 2012

Can You Mix Summer and Winter Tyres?

It is not recommended to mix summer and winter tyres – the different tread designs and compounds produce different handling characteristics which could make the car unstable. 

Storing Summer Tyres in Winter

If you plan to switch to winter tyres throughout the colder months of the year, you should store your tyres correctly:

  • Clean your tyres before putting into storage using lightly soaped water
  • Stack your tyres horizontally
  • Rotate the tyre stack regularly to maintain the shape of the tyre at the bottom of the stack
  • Store in a dry and dark place away from any chemical agents such as fuel, cleaning agents, etc.
  • Cover tyres to limit exposure to damage

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