Are Summer Tyres Worth It? Pros, Cons & Costs Explained

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 9 months ago

5 min read

  • Review
  • Tyres
Close up of car tyres in sunshine.

WhoCanFixMyCar discusses the benefits of summer tyres and whether they are worth the money.

Most cars in the UK roll off the production line with summer tyres as standard since our climate is reasonably mild. However, tyre experts recommend switching between summer tyres and winter tyres for the appropriate season or using all-season tyres all year.

This advice leaves motorists facing a problem. Not only do we have to choose between budget, mid-range and premium, but we also have to decide whether to buy one or two sets of seasonal tyres.

This guide covers everything you need to know about summer tyres to help you make that all-important decision. It’s part of our seasonal tyre series, which also includes a guide to the pros and cons of winter tyres and overviews of the best all-season and winter tyres.

Contents:

What are summer tyres?

Pros and cons of summer tyres

What is the difference between summer and winter tyres?

Can you use summer tyres in winter?

How much are summer tyres?

Alternatives to summer tyres


What are summer tyres?

Summer tyres are designed to be used when the weather is warmer, above seven degrees celsius and up to 40 (not that we usually see such high temperatures in the UK). This range makes them ideal for use from March through to November. 

Pros and cons of summer tyres

Pros

  • Better stability and handling thanks to lower grooves in the tread.

  • Excellent grip in wet conditions at the right temperature.

  • Enhanced fuel economy when used in the appropriate conditions. 

  • Slightly cheaper than winter tyres.

Cons

  • You need to buy another set of tyres for winter, adding to the overall cost.

  • Unsafe in cold and snowy conditions.

  • Less hard-wearing than winter tyres.

Shorter stopping distances in summer

Data from TyreSafe, the road safety charity, shows summer tyres have shorter stopping distances than winter tyres in warm weather. The table below also demonstrates why swapping between summer and winter tyres is essential rather than just relying on one set all year.

This guide covers some of the best winter tyres on the market, from budget through to premium.

TemperatureSummer TyresWinter TyresDifference
20 °C65.3m67m1.7m
5 °C70.5m65.7m4.3m

What is the difference between summer and winter tyres?

Four tyres, two on grass and two on ice.
Summer tyre featuresWinter tyre features
A shallower tread pattern.A higher natural rubber content to keep them soft, improving grip in freezing temperatures.
A sticky, stiff tread compound to enhance grip in warmer weather.A distinctive tread pattern with deeper notches for traction on snow and ice.
Fewer sipes.More sipes to disperse water and prevent aquaplaning.
A block-shaped tread pattern ensures a large footprint on the road.Narrow grooves to prevent the build-up of snow.

Can you use summer tyres in winter?

Since the UK climate is moderate, there is no law about using winter tyres at the appropriate time of year. Many drivers in this country use summer tyres all year round, but that doesn’t mean you should. In fact, using summer tyres in winter is not recommended.

Summer tyres are designed to work optimally in temperatures above seven degrees; when the temperature falls, they become stiffer, leaving them at risk of cracking. They also have fewer grooves and a shallower tread, making them less able to grip on ice and snow

For these reasons, using summer tyres at the wrong time of year can be dangerous and cause unnecessary damage, leading to you having to replace your tyres sooner.

Read our ultimate winter driving guide for advice on how to handle the colder weather as a motorist. Or click here for more information on winter tyres and whether they're worth it.

How much are summer tyres?

Summer tyres cost slightly less than winter tyres. How much you pay for them depends on whether you opt for budget, mid-range or premium tyres

The Royal Mile, a budget summer tyre by Royal Black, costs around £50. 

The RainExpert 3, a mid-range tyre by Uniroyal, costs around £65. Read our Uniroyal tyres review for more information.

Finally, the EcoContact 6, a premium summer tyre by Continental, costs around £80. This Continental tyres review gives an overview of the brand.

Alternatives to summer tyres

Instead of winter tyres, you can use snow socks or snow chains, as we discuss in our winter tyres guide. But if you want to avoid buying two sets of tyres, the only alternative for summer tyres is all-season tyres.

When you use all-season tyres, you don’t have to worry about changing them when the weather turns because, as the name suggests, you can use them all year, making them a more affordable option.

Fore more information, read our guide to the best all-season tyres.

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