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Though winter still clings to some parts of the country, most of the U.S. is tumbling headlong into spring. For motorists, that means roads free of snow and ice and (hopefully) a switch from seat warmers to air conditioning. It also means it might be time to switch from your winter to your summer tires

When to switch from winter tires to summer tires

It’s best to switch back to summer tires once your region has passed the average date of its final yearly snowfall and daily temperatures remain above freezing. 

Pinning down an exact date for all drivers to switch is impossible. Regional climate differences, yearly weather fluctuations, and differences in individual use cases make sure of that. But there are some general guidelines to keep in mind. 

  • The further south you are, the earlier you should likely switch to winter tires. 
  • Northern drivers and those in higher elevations might need to wait until April or May to make the switch. 
  • Drivers in more moderate climates may not need winter tires at all. 
  • Pirelli points out that many states have cutoff dates for driving on studded winter tires in spring. 

Why shouldn’t you drive on winter tires year-round?

Close-up of two tires next to each other with a white background.
Tires | Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

Driving on winter tires year-round isn’t the best idea because their rubber compounds are meant for performance in freezing temperatures, and they degrade more quickly in warmer weather. 

Tire manufacturers have developed winter tires with softer rubber compounds that get better traction and durability as the temperatures drop. The inverse is true with warmer temperatures. Winter tires soften more with heat compared to all-season and summer tires. Consequently, they can degrade quickly in summer weather. 

In the long run, switching between winter and summer tires is cheaper than running through winter tire sets one after another. 

What are the benefits of summer tires?

Summer tires use tread patterns and rubber compounds that maximize traction, comfort, and overall performance during warmer conditions. 

Most drivers are content to use all-season tires in the warmer months, but summer tires are worth considering. They’re especially great for auto enthusiasts looking to get the most out of their vehicles. They hang onto the road far better than all seasons and often have lower road noise ratings. Summer tires can even improve safety with their typically superior stopping/braking performance. 

Should you buy summer tires?

You should buy summer tires if you’re committed to getting the best performance possible and are OK with having a winter set to rotate. 

We get it – most people prefer to snag a set of all-season rubber and not think about it again for a few years. But whether you’re a dedicated auto enthusiast or live in a climate that requires winter rubber for half the year, a set of summer tires could make a significant difference in your driving experience. 


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