Do I need summer tyres?
Most cars are fitted with summer tyres from new and they are the usual replacement when the time comes for new tyres. In countries with reasonably mild climates such as the UK, summer tyres are ideal as they don’t often have to deal with extreme temperatures or road conditions.
Many drivers will find summer tyres deliver the best combination of grip, handling, wear and value for money.
What are summer tyres?
Summer tyres are made from a compound that uses less rubber than winter or all-season tyres. This gives them a harder, firmer tread pattern that softens in mild and warm weather to offer excellent grip for accelerating, braking and steering. This type of tyre also has fewer ‘sipes’, which are the small grooves in the tread blocks, because they’re not necessary to get the tyre up to the ideal working temperature.
How do summer tyres work?
The tread pattern of a summer tyre is designed to offer the best grip on dry and wet roads. It’s made to put more of the tyre in contact with the road’s surface for maximum traction.
When the tread begins to wear, it’s best to change summer tyres when they reach 3mm tread depth. This maintains their performance rather than waiting till they reach the legal minimum tread wear of 1.6mm in the UK.
Choosing the right summer tyre
There are three different types of tread pattern for summer tyres. There are symmetrical, asymmetrical and directional treads:
- A symmetrical tyre has a tread that’s the same on both sides of the tyre and they are most commonly used on smaller cars as they offer low rolling resistance to give excellent fuel economy.
- An asymmetrical tyre has a tread pattern that’s different from one side to the other. This provides a good mix of low noise, high-speed stability, cornering grip and traction for braking. These tyres must be fitted so the correct side is on the outside of the wheel and they are commonly used on larger and faster cars.
- The directional tyre has a V-shaped tread pattern that can only be fitted in one way to work properly. It’s designed to disperse water as efficiently as possible for high performance cars to deliver the best grip for acceleration, handling and braking. The tread is also shaped to give excellent traction on dry roads.