When Should I Change to Summer Tires? - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Mar 27, 2023

When Should I Change to Summer Tires?

The end of winter in New York State is often a long and drawn-out transition. It’s not unusual for it to be 60 degrees and sunny one day, followed by a snowstorm the very next day. Because of this, it can be difficult to know when it’s safe to set your sights on spring and stow away that winter jacket. If you put snow tires on your vehicle you may also be wondering: When is the right time to put on summer tires?


If you keep an eye on the extended forecast and learn about your tires you can give yourself an idea of when you should change back to your summer tires. Continue reading to learn about summer tires and in what conditions they begin to function best!


What’s the Difference Between Summer and Winter Tires?



Summer tires, or performance tires, are tires that are manufactured to provide optimal traction in both wet and dry conditions above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The rubber material in a summer tire is designed to offer maximum contact with the road when the temperature is warmer and offer a wider tread for ideal traction. However, when the temperature drops below 45 degrees, the material in a summer tire begins to harden and offers less contact with the road and thus lessened traction.



Winter tires, or snow tires, are manufactured to withstand colder temperatures and maintain contact and traction with the road despite cold and icy conditions. These tires often have a more aggressive and deeper tread than other tires  and may include the addition of metal studs. By New York State law, tires with metal studs can only be used between October 16 and April 30.


When Should I Put on Summer Tires?


When spring progresses and the temperature ceases to dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you can safely put your summer tires on and remove your winter tires without the risk of snow, ice, and cold temperatures presenting hazards to your commute. While you shouldn’t do this too soon – after all, New York is famous for its spontaneous snowstorms – you also shouldn’t wait too long, or you’ll run the risk of your snow tires wearing down.


Snow tires can wear faster in warmer temperatures than they do in colder temperatures and can also handle less effectively on dry and hot roads. Because they’re designed to operate at their peak in cold weather, some of their features can compromise their function when it’s warmer. Your summer tires are made to maintain the most road contact in warmer weather and will give your vehicle the best performance once spring has sprung.


The Pros and Cons of All-Season Tires


In addition to summer and winter tires, all-season and all-weather tires are popular on passenger vehicles. The pros of all-weather and all-season tires are that you don’t have to go through the trouble of changing between summer and winter tires as the weather changes. These tires are designed to be durable and offer adequate traction regardless of the temperature and conditions.


The cons of these tires are that, because they can be utilized across drastically different temperatures, they may not offer the best performance in extreme weather. Snow tires are specifically designed to excel in the snow and cold, and while all-season and all-weather tires can also perform in these conditions, it won’t be to the extent to that of the snow tires.


In Summary


Winter tires offer the best performance for your vehicle in the snow and cold, but once you can safely say temperatures will remain above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you should switch to your summer tires to increase your tires’ lifespan and optimize your vehicle’s performance.


As a reminder, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends tires be replaced every six years regardless of how many miles have been driven. Regularly checking, changing, and rotating your tires is an important responsibility for any motorist. Click below to learn about routine vehicle maintenance tips every driver should know!