What is the Difference between a Summer Tire and a Winter Tire?

In Quebec, it is required to have winter tires on your vehicle between December 1st and March 15th. But why is it important to change our tires in the winter? What are the differences between summer tires and winter tires? It’s all a question of efficiency…and rubber! In order to have a better understanding of the difference between summer and winter tires and why it is so important to follow the SAAQ’s regulations, here are some explanations that will convince you to change your tires!

What is a summer tire?

Summer tires are quite supple in order to adhere properly to dry road, and also have precise grooves to help evacuate water in case of rain. They are the most common type of tire; vehicles are generally sold with their summer tires.

It is very important not to drive with summer tires during the winter! Below 7 degrees, summer tires tend to harden and lose their adherence. Your vehicle will lose maneuverability while also increasing braking distances, which is very dangerous, especially on snowy or icy roads. You could also get an expensive ticket!

What is a winter tire?

Winter tires are designed to perform better in the cold and snow. They remain supple enough to adhere well to the road, while evacuating snow and rain with the help of specially adapted tire insoles.

The rubber used to make winter tires is designed to remain supple even below 7 degrees. While summer tires harden in the cold, winter tires continue to adhere to the road and improve your vehicle’s maneuverability while maintaining a good braking distance. They also have a deeper insole to help avoid any accumulation of snow. Finally, winter tires have additional grooves to ensure the evacuation of snow and water and considerably reduce your risk of aquaplaning.

However, keep in mind that all the qualities of the winter tire do not apply in the summer heat. Winter tires tend to get worn out much more quickly during the summer, which can be expensive. As well as premature wear (which can increase your risk of getting a flat tire), winter tires lose adherence and stability and become progressively more dangerous. Braking distances are much longer in an emergency situation.

Keeping the safety aspect in mind, you could also see an increase in your gas bill if you keep your winter tires during the summer! Winter tires provide more resistance on the road, which forces the motor to work harder, therefore consuming more gas.

What is an all-season tire?

In order to avoid having to change and store their tires twice a year, certain people prefer to use all-season tires approved for winter. These tires are presented as a great compromise between summer and winter tires due to their specific rubber blend (both supple and rigid) and a design that makes them adhere to dry, wet, snowy, and icy roads.

Unfortunately, by wanting to adapt to every type of weather, all-season tires do not perform very well during the winter. They lose up to 40% of their adherence in temperatures below 7 degrees, and their lifespan will inevitably be shorter than good summer or winter tires. They are therefore not recommended for people who drive a lot on snowy roads or in difficult winter conditions, even if they are approved for winter and carry the associated pictogram. In case of a particularly difficult winter, it is important to change your tires for safer and more performant winter tires.

Why should I change my tires?

Seeing as both summer and winter tires have characteristics proper to each season (and their road conditions), it would be regrettable not to take advantage of everything they have to offer. Obviously, we install our winter tires in order to be in compliance with the law, but also to feel safer and more in control of our vehicle, even on icy roads!

To avoid waiting at the garage when it’s time to change your tires, schedule your appointment ahead of time at one of our Centre Auto Point S. Try to plan ahead and have your winter tires installed before December 1st…and don’t forget that by changing your tires often you are avoiding them becoming worn out prematurely; you will save money long term.

Summer and winter tires have many differences:

  • their rubber blends,
  • the depth of their insoles,
  • the number and location of their grooves,

It is better to take advantage of each of their characteristics in order to ensure good maneuverability on the road! If you don’t know which tire to choose, discover our top 5 winter tires and top 5 summer tires.

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Traction - dry road

Dry-road traction is a tire's ability to brake effectively and respond well to the steering wheel on dry roads.

Traction - wet road

Wet traction is a tire's resistance to hydroplaning and its ability to provide safe driving in wet conditions.

Traction - snowy road

Snow-covered road traction is a tire's ability to operate on partially or completely snow-covered pavement.

Traction - icy road

Ice traction is a tire's ability to operate on partially or completely ice-covered pavement.

Durability

Durability refers to how many kilometres a tire can go before it stops performing.

Comfort/noise

Comfort refers to the ride quality of a tire and the noise it emits on the road.