Differences Between Summer and Winter Tyres

close up image of a tyre tread pattern

If you live in a place or country that experiences extreme weather, then it is often mandatory to have two sets of tyres for your vehicle – that means one set for the summer, and the other for the winter. But, what makes these seasonal tyres different from each other? 

When it comes to the difference between summer and winter tyres, there are three fundamental differences: structure, rubber compound and tread pattern.

What are the Differences Between Summer and Winter Tyres?

Tyre Structure

The structure of winter tyres is made up of thousands of tiny grooves, often known as ‘sipes’, in the tread blocks. These grooves are used to disperse water and prevent aquaplaning – this occurs when a layer of water builds up between the wheels of the vehicle and road surface. Aquaplaning also referred to as ‘hydroplaning’, leads to a loss of traction, which prevents the vehicle from responding to control inputs. The grooves in winter tyres bite into snow, slush or ice and provide optimal grip when driving on a road.

On the other hand, summer tyres have fewer sipes. But, the tread bars have been designed to minimise aquaplaning too. In warm temperatures, this provides more grip both longitudinally and laterally for both wet and dry roads.


Rubber Compound

Winter tyres have a higher rubber content; this keeps them supple in cold weather. The softer the rubber, the more the tyre is able to interlock with the road surface. This improves the grip and handling.

Whereas, summer tyres harden quickly in cold temperatures. This means the winter types perform between when the temperature is below +7 degrees C, and summer tyres perform between when the temperature is above +7 degrees C.

For all-round better performance in warmer temperatures and months, summer tyres provide this. Summer tyres have a relatively hard compound; this means they soften in milder temperatures, making them able to adapt to dry and wet roads. As the rubber compound is adaptive and doesn’t get soft in high temperatures, these tyres have lower friction and are therefore more fuel-efficient.

Summer tyres can handle most weather conditions, however, they are not suitable for harsh, cold climates. This is because they have a hard rubber compound with less natural rubber. In cold temperatures, this hardens and can become brittle. 


Tread Pattern

Winter tyres have a deep tread pattern that provides a cavity in the snow. Weirdly, snow grips better on snow, so the compacted snow amplifies the grip effect on winter tyres. It adds traction which helps push the vehicle forward on snowy or icy roads.

Summer tyres have a fairly simple block-shaped tread pattern; this provides a large footprint with the road and ensures excellent handling, as well as has a significant impact on braking distance.


Contact Longbridge Tyres

If you’re interested in getting a new set of summer of winter tyres, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Longbridge Tyres today. Call us on 0121 457 7582, alternatively, you can fill out our online contact form and we’ll be in touch.