Key Takeaways

  • Summer tires are meant to perform well in heated conditions.
  • All season tires are like summer tires, except they’re built for warm and cold weather.
  • Summer tires are constructed of rubber that remains flexible in warm temperatures.
  • Summer tires typically perform best in temperatures of 45 degrees F or more.
  • All season tires are suitable for a wide variety of weather conditions.

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Summer tires are a great addition to any vehicle since they provide extra traction. But how do summer tires work?

Summer tires are meant to perform well in heated conditions. The rubber that summer tires are built with, withstand high temperatures while also maintaining peak performance during the hot conditions. The rubber stays flexible during warm weather conditions providing increased traction.

I’m a mechanic with five years of experience diagnosing and repairing vehicles. I received my associate’s degree in automotive repair and still receive training on the latest automotive technology. I have repaired well over 1,000 vehicles with the latest tools and technology and plan on continuing well into the future.

Table of Contents

Summer Tires

Summer tires are tires an individual puts on their car during the warm months. As a mechanic, I would see customers start putting summer tires on their car starting around March.

Summer tires are designed to provide optimal performance in warm weather conditions. Summer tires typically perform best in temperatures of 45 degrees F or more.

Summer tires are constructed of rubber that remains flexible and sticky in warm temperatures. Summer tires provide increased traction on dry and wet roads during warm weather.

Tread patterns on summer tires are usually very wide that maximizes them for grip. The widely spaced blocks evacuate water from the tire’s contact patch to reduce the risk of hydroplaning.

The tread pattern on summer tires also helps maintain contact with the surface of the road for improved handling, increased stability, and braking performance.

Summer tires are not meant for use in colder weather, since they can become stiff and lose their grip in lower temperatures. For these conditions, all season tires, or winter tires might be a better idea.

How Change Overs Work

Changeovers in our shop work in a very specific way.

Our shop usually sells two sets of tires to a customer at once. For example, a customer will buy 8 tires. One set will be a winter set, and the other set will be a summer set.

Usually, when you buy 8 tires, the shop will offer you a discount. Depending on what season you are in when you purchase the tires, will dictate which tires you get put on the car that day.

For example, if you purchase tires during the season of colder temperatures, your winter tire will be put on the vehicle, and you will take your summer tires home for storage.

And when the summer season comes, you take your vehicle back to the shop and they do what’s called a change over.

A change over is when the winter conditions subside, and it's time to bring your car in to have summer tires thrown on to provide adequate traction.

So once the weather breaks, you bring your car in for a change over.

You bring the tires you’ve been storing, and they take the winter or summer tires off, and throw on winter or summer tires. Then you store the winter or summer tires for next season.

For example, if you have winter tires on and March hits, you bring your car in for a change over. So you take your summer tires out of storage and bring them with you to the tire shop.

You schedule a change over and make your way to the tire shop. The tire shop takes your winter tires off, and throws your summer tires on. Once the tires are balanced, your winter tires are placed in bags, for you to store, and put on your vehicle later that year when the cold hits.

All Season Tires

An all season tire is like a summer tire, except it’s built for warm and cold weather. All season tires are designed to provide a good mix of performance and versatility.

Compared to summer performance tires, all season tires perform well in warm and cold weather.

All season tires are suitable for a wide variety of weather conditions such as warm weather and moderate snow.

They are not specialized for extreme weather conditions like heavy ice and snow or summer temperatures.

All season tires are not snow tires. The tire tread on all season tires are different then they are on summer tires and snow tires.

Summer tires generally outperform all season tires in warmer weather conditions, but that’s it. All season tires are good for a multitude of conditions.

High performance vehicles generally come shipped with an all season tire built for all year round performance.

All season tires are a compromise to winter tires and summer tires, as they cover a wide range of respective conditions.

Winter Tires

Winter tires, also known as snow tires, are meant for winter weather. The rubber compound used in snow tires is meant for winter driving, when the conditions are icy and there are cold temperatures.

The tread life on winter tires helps cornering performance for passenger cars during freezing temperatures.

Winter tires have a unique tread design that includes a biting edge and large grooves with the purpose of evacuating snow from the tire’s contact patch, in turn improving the grip of the tire.

Winter tires also use a softer rubber compound that remains flexible in cold temperatures. This allows the tire to maintain grip during snowy and icy conditions.

Winter tires are good if you live in an area with harsh winter conditions such as consistent snow and ice. Winter tires ensure maximum safety by improving handling and performance during these conditions.

When the winter is done, it’s recommended to switch your tires back to summer or all season tires, since you’d want to save the mileage on your winter tires.

Summer Tires Vs. All Season Tires

Summer tires and all season tires are tires designed for two types of weather conditions. Summer tires are designed for warm weather conditions and optimized for performance on dry and wet roads.

Summer tires typically have a harder rubber compound built into them. The harder rubber provides better grip in warm conditions, but they become stiff in cold weather, losing the effectiveness of their traction.

On the other hand, all-season tires are designed to provide a good balance of performance and versatility, making them suitable for use in a variety of weather conditions, including moderate snow.

The tread pattern on an all season tire is built to provide adequate traction in wet and dry conditions. Some capacity for driving in light snow is also built into the tread pattern.

A softer rubber is used for all season tires. The soft rubber provides extra grip in colder weather by maintaining tire flexibility.

All-season tires are more versatile and can be used in a wider range of weather conditions.

The decision between winter tires, all season tires, and summer tires, really depends on your location’s weather conditions, your driving habits, and your driving needs.

How Do Summer Tires Work?

About The Author

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks

Christopher Sparks has been servicing vehicles since 2012. After completing the automotive studies program at Camden County College, he was awarded an Associates's Degree in Applied Science. His first job was a lube-tech at Jiffy Lube, and is currently an independent B-Technician servicing vehicles for the United States Postal Service. Christopher is ASE certified and loves rebuilding engines.

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