Winter tires in summer bad or better?

Hi guys,

I have some nice new winter tires on my Caravan, and some “practically not legal to use” summer tires from last year. Really don’t have the budget right now for new summers too - couldn’t sell the old ones, not even for $10.00. Is it ok to drive winter tires in the summer? I have heard that you shouldn’t drive them over 50 mph (100 kms. Cdn) - or some say that if you drive them fast they will wear really fast - if they wear alot will they become more smooth like summer tires (which might not be a bad thing in my case - I usually don’t drive a lot in winter - but I had to get them this year because I was living on a long VERY icy driveway. I have heard that your gas mileage isn’t as good either - but I haven’t seen anything around on how much worse. If the car holds out, I may make a 1,500 mile trip this summer (so gas mileage might be important if the price of gas goes up again).

I have heard some people say that with the Caravan they drive them all year, because then they get better traction, and they’re worried about damaging their transmission (I have heard that if you spin your tires much with these cars there is a pin that can fly out and damage your transm.)- but I really wonder if this would make any difference in summer. I don’t really drive the Caravan like a Indy 500 driver anyhow.

Any thoughts?

Dust Mouse, You Can Drive With Them All Summer.

[list]They will wear out faster. [/list]
[list]They aren’t as safe as summer tires at higher speeds.(less dry traction)[/list]
[list][/list]Wearing Off the tread will not make them safer, only dangerous in rain.
[list][/list]I don’t think MPG change will be very dramatic.
[list]Using them in summer to save your transmission is almost nonsensical.[/list]


The purpose of tread on a tire, as I understand it, is to throw the water away from the tire. The aggressive tread on a winter tire is to throw the snow away from the wheel. If the roads were always perfectly dry, you could run on no tread–race cars essentially do this with tires called racing slicks. Your winter tires don’t have as much surface area in contact with the road as a regular tread tire. I don’t think I would want to take a road trip in the summer on the winter tires. The winter tires will wear out more quickly in the summer as well If you need them in the winter, and you wear them out in the summer, then it would probably be more cost effective to get some good summer tires. If you shop around, you might even find some used tires with sufficient tread at a salvage yard.

You should get new all season tires. Since you can’t afford new tires right now, I have some suggestions:

  1. Buy used tires. If you do this, make sure they are in better shape then your old tires.

  2. Apply for a credit card with a tire store and get a zero interest deal. I just put new tires on my car with a Goodyear credit card and got a 90 day zero interest payment plan. Firestone and other tire chains have similar deals too. Of course if I don’t pay off my bill in 90 days they will tack on interest as though the zero interest deal never existed. So if you go this route, make sure can pay off the card within the zero interest period, otherwise, it probably isn’t worth it. The APR is usually pretty high. So don’t fall into the trap of paying interest on the card.

Keep in mind that wearing out your winter tires this summer will mean you will have to buy two sets of tires instead of one set. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.

When the temperature goes above 50F your winter tires wear at a significantly faster rate as the rubber compound is meant to wear properly in the cold. It also turns mushy so when you turn you get slightly more sway which only wear them faster. You get less traction not more traction with winter tires in the summer except maybe on gravel/muddy roads.

The whole point to “winter tires” and summer tires is to change them to maximize there benefits and minimize their limitations. Summer tires put more rubber on the road and provide greater traction, smoother ride, quieter ride, and more cornering and braking power which can make a difference in emergency situations. Summer tires use a harder rubber in the tread which wears better and gives better traction on warm pavement.

Winter tires have an open tread to grip and shed snow. They use softer rubber so the tread is pliable in very cold temperatures to improve traction on that ice you have in your driveway. They wear fast in summer and tend to slide and skid at slower speeds which reduces your safety limits.

The question is how many miles will you put on the car over the summer, say before next Christmas? If the answer is 4,000 or less you can get by with the winter tires. The miles driven will wear them faster but should not wear them out. You should not exceed posted speed limits. You state you are not an aggressive driver so I’m assuming you’ll stay within the safety limits of the car and the tires.

The winter tires on the car now are probably as safe or safer than the summer tires you have that are worn. It would be best to get new summer or all season tires, but if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there. You will not damage your car or the transmission at all. Your biggest risk is the winter tires will not be as good on your icey driveway next winter.

If your 1,500 mile trip is a 3,000 round trip then I’d get the winter tires off the car prior to such a long trip.

I run winter tires all year round (we’ve had snow storms in Minnesota as late as early June), and I get about three years out of a set. But the tread design on winter tires doesn’t provide as good of traction in wet weather as all-season tires do. So I just make adjustments in my driving in wet weather accordingly.


Thanks for the range of replies - I have learned a lot! I think I will keep them on for now (I don’t think it will be above 50 f here for at least another month or two), but be very careful about wet weather and just generally drive slowly. Sounds like using them for the long trip would be a bad idea though.

Also the sketchy part is in a skid(recovery)/emergency maneuver or sudden stop(you cannot adjust driving for that) your good winter tires are seriously compromised in warm weather.

Last thing to realize is winter or all-season tires are seriously compromised at or below 5/32"(half wear) for winter conditions. It amazes me people actually buy used winter tires at that wear point.

I have seen summer driving in Milwaukee totally destroy (the tread became so uneven you could see it with your eye and vibration was terrible) a set of Blizacks on a BMW 5 series,on more than one car.