You may be tempted to continue using your winter tyres in the summer either to save money or avoid the hassle of changing tyres. Are you legally allowed to use winter tyres in summer? Is there a safety risk involved? Find out what is allowed and what precautions to take.
What does the law say about using winter tyres in summer?
There is nothing in UK law to prevent you from using snow tyres in the summer. You must simply ensure they have a legal tread depth of at least 1.6mm.
The only restriction applies to studded tyres, which are only permitted on snow or ice-covered roads.
However, if you’re travelling abroad, it’s advisable to check the legislation in force in the country in question. For instance, in Italy you’re not allowed to use winter tyres from 15 May to 15 October.
Is it dangerous to use winter tyres in the summer?
The rubber used in winter tyres is not designed to withstand high temperatures. Tests conducted by the independent European body, ADAC, have found that winter tyres are less effective than summer tyres when braking on dry surfaces and that they increase the risk of aquaplaning on wet roads. However, these tests were conducted with new tyres. The level of tyre wear may well affect performance.
Simply put, if you opt to keep using your winter tyres in summer, drive carefully. Reduce your speed to compensate for the reduction in braking performance.
Is there any benefit to keeping your winter tyres in summer?
Manufacturers claim that snow tyres start to lose their winter performance when their tread depth drops below 4mm. It can therefore be tempting to ‘finish off’ your winter tyres in summer, given that there is quite a big margin between this 4mm winter recommendation and the 1.6mm minimum legal tread depth.
You just need to be aware that your winter tyres will wear a lot quicker in high temperatures with high road surface temperatures speeding up the erosion of the rubber.
If your winter tyres are new enough to last through another winter, it is better to remove them and store them somewhere cool during the summer months. Fitting summer tyres for summer driving will also be more economical and provide a better driving experience, as summer tyres are quieter than winter tyres.