Here's The Scientific Difference Between Summer And Winter Tires

Illustration for article titled Here's The Scientific Difference Between Summer And Winter Tires

We’re in it. The time is now. The scary time. That time of year when it’s just a little too cold for summer tires, but just a little too warm for winter tires. You know that one is way better than the other in the cold, but it’s so much more than a tread pattern. Here’s Engineering Explained on why.


It’s not just about making sure your tire can claw its way through the snow, but making sure the rubber itself can perform in low temperatures. Summer tire rubber gets stiff and hard in cold weather, while the formulation of the compound in winter tires is much different, and it actually gets softer the colder it gets:

This is why I just stick to tank treads year-round.

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.



As someone who works at a Toyota dealership, I can’t tell you how many people say “Who needs snow tires? I can just get AWD and be fine!” or “I really need AWD for Winter.”

I’ve pissed a lot of customers off reminding them it’s All Wheel DRIVE, not All Wheel STOP. The belief that All Seasons, quite literally, work in every season is a dumb marketing gimmick that has ruined on road safety. They think I’m crazy for driving a RWD car in winter time, with snow tires!

Hell, I had one guy tell me I was a danger on the roads... This is while he’s getting his Highlander towed in because he ass-packed someone on the interstate.

Stupid is, is stupid does I guess.