There’s nothing like driving a set of responsive winter tires when conditions turn cold and dangerous. Indeed, in many parts of North America it’s vital to rely on a set of winter tires, whose softer compounds give drivers peace of mind in snow, ice and cold.
As the inventor of the winter tire, we're proud to make some of the best winter products. But the very features that make tires safe and precise on snow and ice can cause serious issues once temperatures turn consistently warm. We've already established that it's important to choose tires that match the climate where you live.
That brings us to rule No. 5 in our Ten Rules of Tires series: Even the best winter tires don’t belong on spring and summer roads. Why aren't winter tires safe when temperatures consistently rise above 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius)? That's a good question. Here are three reasons – and read to the bottom for a solution that keeps you safe year-round!
1. Winter tires wear down quickly in warm weather
Winter tires have soft tread compounds that are designed for winter use. In hot summer weather, they tend to generate an unnecessarily high amount of heat. This causes a much shorter tread life, high vibration and the potential for structural damage to the tire.
In addition to accelerated wear, the tire may also break if rocks collect in the empty holes of a studded tire whose studs have been removed. Rocks may pass through to the steel belt package inside the tire and break it.
2. Wet asphalt is challenging for winter tires
Several tests have determined that winter tires perform poorly in the heat, and the differences are especially clear in summer rain.
A tire test by a Finnish automotive magazine shows that when a worn non-studded winter tire is used to brake from a speed of 80 kilometers per hour (about 50 miles per hour), the car will still be going 40 km/h (25 mph) by the time a new summer tire would have stopped.
The test also reveals that controlled driving on wet asphalt is nearly impossible with worn winter tires, since sliding starts without warning and restoring control of the vehicle is challenging. Braking on warm, dry roads is also trickier for winter tires, which are designed to claw through snow and ice rather than cling to hot asphalt.
3. In summer, winter tires steer slowly and feel unstable to drive
Our winter tires' intricate tread patterns help them handle winter roads with ease. But those same tread patterns struggle on warm roads that are clear of snow and ice.
More specifically, the tread pattern causes winter tires to steer more slowly than summer tires. When a tire steers slowly, it will not be as precise when it faces surprising conditions.
Non-studded winter tires or tires with studs removed are also less stable than their all-season or all-weather counterparts. The winter tread compound combined with a block pattern is no match for summer tires in terms of rigidity.
Fortunately, there's a solution!
Frustrated that your winter tires aren't viable for year-round use? There's an answer that allows you to keep the same tires on your car all year long: all-weather tires.
While winter tires are far from ideal on warm, wet summer roads, Nokian Tyres’ all-weather products are built to withstand conditions on both ends of the calendar. We invented the all-weather tire in response to consumers who wanted a winter-rated product they could use year-round – although there is nothing safer than a winter tire if you live in an area that experiences severe winter conditions.
All-weather tires are marked with the Severe Service Emblem (also known as the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake) that certifies they are appropriate for winter use. They are also effective on spring and summer roads, making them a good choice for drivers who don’t want to switch tires twice each year.
And just like winter tires, we invented the first all-weather passenger car tire, too.