So, where do summer tires fit into the equation? Is this a thing I really need? How many times do I actually have to change my tires each year?!
First, relax. While there are very clear benefits of using different tire types based on local weather conditions or seasons, you're not specifically a bad driver if you don't change your tires for every trip you make. Unless you're doing something really bold, like going off-roading in track tires. (If that's the case, please drop us a line to let us know how that's going for you.)
Many of the decisions you make about your car are directly related to your drive style and location. Read on to learn more about summer tires to determine if they're appropriate for your vehicle and driving needs.
What Makes Them "Summer Tires?"
Summer tires are strategically engineered for the highest level of performance in warm weather. The typical advice is that summer tires belong on your car once temperatures are consistently above 45?.
The tread patterns of summer performance tires is specifically designed to put more rubber on the road, literally. In many cases, the rubber compounds from which the tires are constructed is more pliable, and adjusts to have a more direct bond with the road. The tire tread also features less grooving and more direct contact with the road, again, increasing grippiness.
Factors like tire size and width, aspect ratio, and rim diameter can also play a part in a tire's performance on both dry roads and wet conditions. Summer tires are meant to grip the road tightly in a variety of road conditions.
What's the Benefit of High-Performance Summer Tires?
The tread compounds and design of summer tires provides benefits like tight cornering, more precise braking, greater speed responsiveness, and increased agility, especially on wet roads.
Of course, every tire manufacturer will have different features to their summer tires. For example, the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tire features a motorsports resin in the tread compound to optimize driving in dry conditions, with circumferential grooves that reduce the risk of hydroplaning.
On the other hand, tires like the Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position ultra-high-performance tire is designed for dry and wet traction with a racing-style level of handling. The continuous interlocking center rib design improves steering and braking, and a silica-enriched tire compound grips the road tighter in a variety of driving conditions.
These are just two options of summer tires. Nearly every tire manufacturer, from Pirelli to Michelin, produces an entire lineup of summer tires, so you might need to read through a few specs and your owner's manual to determine which is the best tire for your vehicle.
Can I Drive on Summer Tires in Winter Conditions?
Technically, it's your life, and you can do what you want. But, if you want the best traction year round, you'll take off those summer tires once temperatures dip below 45?.
The reason is the rubber compound. Summer tires respond to warmer temperatures, hugging the road just right when it's hot outside. When the weather gets colder, they'll actually freeze and solidify. That's actually the opposite of what you want in cold weather conditions.
Winter tires are generally more pliable, which helps them connect with the road more when temperatures drop. The tread patterns and tread depth are also designed to grip onto roads that are cold and wet with ice and snow.
So yes, there are many tire categories out there. The reason is because each season comes with different temperatures as weather conditions that can actually impact the way the rubber meets the road. Since cars are large and fast, we mere humans strive to do all we can to make them safer and perform better regardless of those conditions.
Consider these tips when it comes to choosing the right tires for your vehicle. Do you live in an area that's dry, hot and arid, or is it constantly cool and rainy? The good news is that regardless of your environmental challenges, there is a tire for you.