The quality and characteristics of a car's tyres make a lot of difference to how smoothly you are able to drive and passenger safety. For this reason, it is important to choose tyres that are suitable for each season. So when the sunny days are back, you should pick summer tyres to suit the weather conditions. Want to find out more? This detailed guide provides you with lots of information that will help you find out everything about summer tyres so you can make the right choice and use them properly.
What's so special about summer tyres?
Summer tyres are designed to provide very good road grip in the kind of weather conditions you encounter from spring to autumn. It is actually the standard tyre that you get with most new or used vehicles upon delivery.
Summer tyre characteristics
There are three main parameters to help you recognise summer tyres from other tyre types:
- The tyre tread. Summer tyres actually have less sipes and a shallower tread than winter tyres.
- The materials used are different than for a winter tyre, because they are designed to operate at temperatures above 7°C, on dry and wet surfaces. Below this temperature, summer tyres lose their efficiency.
Summer tyres have fewer sipes than winter tyres. This structure allows them to grip the road better, while positively impacting the braking.
Less of a tread pattern provides more grip on the road in dry weather. Be careful though to check the depth of the tread using the wear indicator. With worn summer tyres, the risk of aquaplaning increases considerably.
Are there any markings on summer tyres?
Vehicle wheels often have various special markings. There may be a symbol of three mountain peaks with a snowflake, or a 3PMSF (for winter tyres), or the ALL SEASON marking. However, unlike other tyre types, summer tyres don’t have any typical markings to show the season in which they should be used. You can find the list of markings that may appear on the sidewalls of your tyres in our guide.
The advantages of summer tyres
Summer tyres perform better under the right conditions of use as compared to winter or all-season tyres. Due to their characteristics, they:
- Brake better on a dry road versus a winter or all-season tyre (you gain almost 2 metres of braking distance in built-up areas)
- Enable you to drive more smoothly with less noise
- Consume less fuel
The disadvantages of summer tyres
When the ambient temperature drops below 7 degrees, you shouldn't use these kind of tyres any more. Under these conditions, the rubber becomes harder and less elastic. This means their roadholding decreases. Snow or all-season tyres are therefore recommended to guarantee your safety.
What size should I choose for summer tyres?
Whether you've got a 4x4, a city car, or an SUV, you can't just choose any size of tyre for your car.
If you want to find out the right size of tyre, look at your car documents, the door pillar or the fuel hatch. That's where you will find the manufacturer's recommended size.
Here's an example: 195/65 R15 91 T. This tells you that the tyre has:
- A width of 195 mm
- A sidewall height of 126.75 mm (or 65% of 195 mm)
- A 15-inch rim diameter
- A radial structure like nearly all the tyres on sale today
- A load index of 91 (this is the maximum weight that the tyre can support, here it corresponds to 615 kg)
- A T speed index (which tells you that the maximum speed supported by the wheel is 190 km/hour)
How much do summer tyres cost on average?
It is very difficult to give any estimations about tyre prices, because it depends on a lot of different factors.
- Tyre size
- The chosen brand (discount, quality, premium)
The most important thing is to choose the right kind of tyre for your usage and expectations. Driving with poor quality tyres at €30 is no problem if you only use your car in town for short trips. If, on the other hand, you expect exceptional circuit performance from this kind of tyre, you're bound to be disappointed.
Can I use summer tyres in winter?
You can probably already guess the answer... If there's snow and ice everywhere, or it freezes regularly, it's time to fit winter or all-season tyres. Using summer tyres in these conditions is dangerous, because they accelerate poorly, brake poorly, slip more easily and lose traction.
This is because every tyre has its own characteristics, and if it has been designed to hold the road perfectly in hot weather, it definitely won't cope with recurrent rain or snow.
When should you change your summer tyres?
The first factor you should consider when buying new tyres is the age of your current tyres. You are recommended not to keep the same ones for over 10 years, even if you don't think they are very worn. This is because the rubber on them actually decreases in efficiency, so you could have a tyre that is a long way off the wear indicator limit but that is completely useless. Also, after 5 years of regular use, you should get your tyres checked by a professional garage at least once a year.
If you want to find out how old your tyres are, you should check the tyre's DOT which you will find on their sidewall.
Also, a standard tyre's lifespan depends on lots of factors, such as the design, the vehicle they are fitted on, the climate, the state of the roads and your style of driving. Potholes, excessive speeds, sudden starts and braking can damage them. With normal use, you should replace them every 30 to 65,000 miles on average.
The wear indicator on the tyres helps you know when a change is needed. You'll need to change them if you reach the wear indicator, which you'll usually find on the tread (at a depth of around 1.6mm).
If the sidewalls of the wheels or the valve caps are damaged, if there is a 1cm or more puncture in the tread or a rupture, you should consider replacing them without delay.
Lastly, the final factor that should tell you that you need to change your tyres, is when driving starts to become less smooth. This can manifest in vehicle vibration, worse road holding, or less efficient braking. Before a long trip (such as holiday trips), check the condition of your tyres. If you have any doubts about the appropriateness of a repair or change, do not hesitate to seek professional advice.
What are the main things to remember about summer tyres?
Your car usually comes with standard tyres called "summer tyres", which are the classic tyres for driving smoothly outside the winter months. These tyres are perfect for any kind of road, both in town and on motorways, as long as the temperature is over 7° and you don't get a lot of rain in your region. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are having difficulty deciding on the choice of tyre. We can advise you on the right kind of tyres to buy based on your car and how you use it.
Remember that no matter what type of tyre you use, you absolutely must check your tyre pressure regularly. Even the best tyres won't give you optimal performance when you don't treat them well.