Winter Tires in Summer: Can You Use Winter Tires Year-Round?

Winter driving can be full of challenges. Snow and icy roads pose a considerable safety risk, and in some provinces in Canada, winter tires are mandatory because of it.

However, there are no such regulations when it comes to driving in the summer. Driving is less risky during the warm weather season, and some drivers find it more convenient to leave their winter tire set on year-round.

Is this the right choice, or is using winter tires in the summer a bad idea? We’ve prepared a definite answer, as well as some helpful advice for Canadian drivers when it comes to choosing the right tires for the season.

Keep reading for more!

What Is the Difference Between Winter and Summer Tires?

First of all, let’s take a look at how winter and summer tires differ.

Winter tires are designed for optimal performance in colder temperatures. The compound rubber is flexible and the tread pattern is deep, allowing the tire to grip wet or icy roads better.

In comparison, summer tires have a flatter tread, and the rubber is made out of a harder compound. Both of these factors lower the rolling resistance and improve fuel efficiency, as good grip is not as critical in the summer as it is in winter. The compound holds up better in hotter conditions, allowing the tires to grip the road well when it’s above 7 degrees Celsius.

Can You Use Winter Tires in the Summer?

In the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia, winter tires are required by law during specific parts of the year. In other parts of Canada, drivers get incentives to invest in winter tires, such as lower premiums on insurance or loans.

However, there’s no regulation when it comes to using winter tires during the rest of the year. The reason is that using snow tires on dry roads doesn’t pose a threat to the drivers, but there are definitely some downsides that we should point out.

Why You Should Avoid Using Winter Tires in the Summer

We don’t recommend using winter tires all year long, and using the appropriate tires for the appropriate time of year will give you optimal performance. It can also help you drive safely and even save you money in the long run.

So, here are the top reasons why you should avoid driving with winter tires in the summer:

Faster Wear in Summer Conditions

Winter tires are constructed from a rubber compound that’s significantly softer than that used to produce summer and all-weather tires. Thanks to the softer composition, the tires can grip the road better in colder temperatures.

However, as the temperature rises, the softer material tends to wear down considerably faster than the harder material used in summer and all-season tires.

It Costs More in the Long Run

It’s estimated that driving with winter tires for a single summer season could decrease the lifespan of your tires by up to 60%.

That said, regular tire rotation will save you money. If used and maintained properly, a single set of tires can last you several seasons. Obviously, this can lead to significant savings over the years.

Performance Issues

Driving with winter tires in the summer will get you from A to B, but you shouldn’t expect the same level of control that summer tires can give you in warmer and drier weather.

The soft and pliable rubber of the winter tires provides the necessary flexibility to handle the snow and slippery roads in the winter, but on a warm and dry road, the handling will be less sharp, and the car will lose some of its agility.

Traction Issues

If you use winter tires in the summer, you can expect some traction issues during the following winter. Winter tires not only wear out quickly during the warmer season, but the compound that’s designed for cold weather becomes less flexible and will subsequently underperform in winter conditions.

Fuel Economy

If you’re using winter tires out of season, you should be aware that the vehicle’s fuel consumption will be higher than with summer tires. The softer compound the winter tires are made of produces more rolling resistance in warmer temperatures and thus needs more force to build and maintain speed.

This means you’ll be stepping on the pedal a lot more, leading to higher fuel consumption, which in turn means more money spent on fuel and more money wasted in the long term.

When Should You Switch From Winter to Summer Tires?

For most provinces in Canada, there’s no set date for when you should switch from winter tires to summer tires. Instead, it’s up to the driver to decide when they wish to switch their tires. If you consider how fast winter tires wear out in the summer, you don’t want to install them too early.

Winter tire change is mandatory in Quebec (December 1 to March 15) and in British Columbia (October 1 to April 30).

If you live in other parts of Canada, a general recommendation would be to change to winter tires when the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius on most days, and switch back to summer tires once the temperatures are higher than 7 degrees Celsius.

Saving Money on Winter Tires

While on the subject of saving money in the long term, it’s also a good idea to do your research and invest in good winter tires. Those who don’t drive a lot in winter can make do with cheaper tires, while others will definitely want to invest more.

We leave you with one final tip for saving money when the time comes for a tire change:

Many drivers choose to leave winter tires on because they’re not aware of the difference between summer and winter tires and don’t want to bother mounting and unmounting tires twice a year.

One simple solution is to buy a second set of wheels that are fitted with summer tires. When the time comes for a tire change, you can just swap out the wheels. This is convenient because you can do this at a shop or you can do it yourself, and it’s much faster. It does require a larger investment, but it will save you both time and effort.

The Bottom Line

Winter tires are a necessity when it comes to driving in winter, but some drivers leave them on during the summer season as well.

Although this appears convenient, there are several good reasons why you shouldn’t use winter tires in the summer, as we’ve explained here today. So, if you want to drive safely and comfortably while saving money in the long run, always use the right tires for the right season.


Is it safe to drive with winter tires in the summer?

Winter tires are reasonably safe to drive in the summer. However, they’ll wear out faster on the warm, dry road, and they won’t have the same traction as summer tires do in those road conditions.

So, if you must use winter tires during the summer season, make sure to check the tread wear before winter in order to be sure the tires are still good to last the winter season. Moreover, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of replacing your tires, you can always opt for all-season tires instead.

What temperature is too hot for winter tires?

Winter tires are designed for colder weather, and summer and all-purpose tires are designed to perform better in temperatures over 7 C. Although you can use winter tires in temperatures over 7 C, temperatures over 18 C can considerably damage your winter tires.

How long will winter tires last in the summer?

Using winter tires during the warmer part of the year, when temperatures go far over 7 C, can wear down the tread of your tires by up to 60%, so you may find yourself buying a new set of winter tires much more often. Moreover, using worn winter tires is a significant safety risk, so you should make sure your tires are in good working order before the season begins.

Will winter tires pop in the summer?

Summer tires are designed to disperse heat better. If you leave the car equipped with winter tires in the summer, make sure to check the pressure on your tires because heat can overinflate them and cause damage to the tire, but they’re not likely to explode unless they’re exposed to extreme heat.

Milica Milenkovic
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