What is the difference between summer and winter tyres?

For many people, particularly those living in countries with extreme weather, it is mandatory to have two sets of tyres – one for summer and one for winter. But what is the difference between summer and winter tyres?

Winter tyres

There are three fundamental differences between summer and winter tyres: their structure, their rubber compound and their tread pattern.

  • Winter tyres have a higher natural rubber content which keeps them supple in the cold. The softer they are, the more the tyre is able to interlock with the road surface, improving grip and handling. Unlike summer tyres, which harden quickly in cold temperatures, winter tyres perform best in temperatures below +7 degrees C.
  • Winter tyres also have thousands of tiny grooves (known as sipes) in their tread blocks which are used to disperse water and prevent aquaplaning. These grooves bite into the snow, slush and ice, providing optimal grip with the road.
  • They also have a deep tread pattern. This provides a cavity for snow. Strangely, nothing grips snow better than snow, and the compacted snow intensifies the grip effect, adding traction to push the vehicle forwards on snowy and icy roads.

Difference:

  • Winter tyres perform best in temperatures below +7 degrees C.
  • Summer tyres perform best in temperatures above +7 degrees C.
Uniroyal. A brand of Continental.

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