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The difference between winter and summer tyres

Alternating winter and summer tyres allows for optimal performance in any season. The features of these two types of tyres designed specially to ensure high performance in certain conditions offer important advantages in terms of safety, efficiency and comfort.

Understanding the differences between winter and summer tyres allows you to better understand the benefits of this solution and helps you choose the right tyres for every season. Make an intelligent choice to drive safely and optimise your car’s fuel consumption and emissions.

The difference between summer and winter tyres

There are a number of differences between summer and winter tyres, such as compounds, tread patterns and technologies. Both types of tyres have been designed to provide appropriate performance in their specific environment and road conditions, with the aim of guaranteeing maximum driving safety, comfort and limited wear.

The main difference is the tread pattern and compound. Winter tyres have a large number of sipes, with more grooves to provide a better grip on snow, ice and water. Summer tyres are more solid with fewer grooves, improving structural rigidity and providing an immediate response while driving.

The same goes for the tread depth, with a thickness of up to 10 mm for winter tyres compared with around 7-8 mm for summer tyres. The compound is also different: winter tyres are made from a softer compound that remains more flexible at lower temperatures, while summer tyres are made from a harder compound that makes them more rigid and perform better in higher temperatures.

Features of winter tyres:

  • thicker tread, up to 10 mm
  • soft and flexible compound at low temperatures
  • more sipes for improved grip on ice and snow
  • deeper grooves to expel snow and water.

Features of summer tyres:

  • thinner tread, up to 7-8 mm
  • hard compound resistant to high temperatures
  • fewer sipes to optimise performance, comfort and wear
  • grooves designed to expel water and reduce the risk of aquaplaning
  • a more solid tread profile for improved braking and driving control.
Winter Summer

Your summer tyres are much safer when it’s warm

Heat tends to soften the rubber, reducing its durability and performance. The harder compound used to make summer tyres is designed specifically to counteract the higher temperatures for the summer months. In these conditions, summer tyres continue to ensure shorter braking distances, improved grip on the road surface and better manoeuvrability.

Using summer tyres in hot weather allows you to have more control of the vehicle, resulting in a safer and more comfortable drive. These tyres allow the driver to feel the road closely, allowing them to take bends, accelerate and brake more effectively and improve control of any skidding.

How temperature affects winter and summer tyres

Temperature affects tyre performance, reducing grip and increasing stopping distances. Cold can cause tyres to harden, while high temperatures soften the rubber, wearing them out more quickly and encouraging the appearance of lines and small cracks.

In both cases, using a tyre that is unsuitable for the conditions decreases the performance of the rubber, compromising safety and comfort. Durability can also be reduced and the tyre can wear out prematurely, resulting in increased consumption, polluting emissions and noise.

Thanks to the use of a harder compound, summer tyres guarantee optimum performance when the temperature is above 7°C. On the other hand, winter tyres are designed to operate at temperatures below 7°C, when their softer compound ensures better grip and limited wear to the tread.

Stopping distances for winter vs summer tyres

Using winter and summer tyres in different seasons always ensures optimal stopping distances whatever the time of year. If you use summer tyres in the winter, when temperatures fall below 7°C, stopping distances may be as much as twice those of winter tyres, especially on wet roads.

If ice or snow is present, stopping distances may even reach eight or 10 times those of winter tyres, resulting in significant risks for road users. The same applies to winter tyres used in the summer, when the softer compound under performs and reduces the structural rigidity of the tyre, considerably increasing stopping distances.

When temperatures fall to 0°C during the winter, a car fitted with winter tyres can be stopped at a speed of 30mph within about 35 metres, whereas this distance could be as much as 45 metres on summer tyres. The presence of ice further widens this gap, making the benefits of using the right tyres for the right season even clearer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between winter and all-season tyres?
Winter tyres are designed for driving on snow, ice and at temperatures below 7°C; all-season tyres provide balanced performance in all weather and road conditions. The main difference is linked to stopping distances; when snow and ice is present on the tarmac in winter, all-season tyres have longer stopping distances than winter tyres. Read more.
What is the difference between winter and summer tyres?
Winter tyres are made from a softer compound and have a thicker tread with more grooves and sipes to provide improved performance in low temperatures and on snow and ice. Summer tyres are made from a harder compound and have fewer sipes and thinner tread to optimise drivability, wear and responsiveness in high temperatures.
What is the difference between all-season and summer tyres?
All-season tyres represent a middle ground between summer and winter tyres. Compared to summer tyres, they are made from a softer compound and have more sipes and deeper grooves to ensure optimal performance even in winter. All-season tyres are recommended for those who live in areas with mild winters, where the temperature rarely drops below freezing and snowfalls and icy roads are infrequent.


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