Summer Tires Explained 101: Specs, Differences, And Reviews

Summer Tires Explained 101: Specs, Differences, And Reviews

The tire industry offers a huge variety of tires. Each of them is meant for a certain purpose and certain road and weather conditions. Precisely for this reason, it is paramount to choose the tires judiciously when the time comes for replacement.

Today we will mainly talk about summer tires. Obviously, these are exclusively for the warm season of the year. Still, choosing a suitable summer tire is not a simple process. Just think about it: What will you choose between a summer tire and an all-season one? Why? What is the difference between them? And in which cases is it better to choose an all-season tire instead of a summer one for the warm period of the year? As you can see, you need to determine your purpose well to choose a suitable summer tire, if it indeed meets your needs.

With that said, the Neotires team will help you on this topic. Today we will identify the specifics of summer tires and see how they differ from other types. In addition, we will take a look at some summer models for you to consider in case it is time to choose a new tire. So, let's begin.

What Is A Summer Tire?

The term "summer tire" is actually an umbrella term. This includes warm weather conditions and smooth road surfaces. In most cases, these tires are bought by drivers who live in areas with a moderate to warm climate where the sun predominates over frequent rains. Though rains are not a big deal for summer tires as these cope decently with wet roads as well. 

The essence of a summer tire is superior control over dry and wet roads. In addition, this manifests itself through agile and very precise handling. Due to their dynamic nature, summer tires are often called "performance tires". This explains their agility and their vigorous essence in which the basic priority is tenacity in warm weather conditions.

Why Is A Summer Tire More Capable In Wet And Hot Conditions?

Manufacturers use different technologies for each type of tire. A winter tire will never have the same construction and composition as a summer one. In this sense, the summer tire is specially designed to provide superior road grip and solid performance capabilities. This includes but is not limited to sharp and short braking, agile acceleration, and highly balanced cornering.

To achieve these goals, tire makers endow summer tires with a specific design. More precisely, it is about a shallow tread pattern to establish a tighter contact surface with the road. Also, the grooves of the tire are usually straighter while the center of the tire abounds in continuous ribs.

Employing such an architecture, the summer tire has a more "compact" contact with the road surface, which makes it more stable. In addition, the composition of this tire differs in softer components. They add extra grip to the tire, which increases responsiveness and agility. This enhanced grip is also beneficial for traction on wet roads. Last but not least, the summer tire resists heat accumulation better - which is a critical difference compared to other tires. 

While summer tires resist the heat much better, the same is not valid for cold temperatures. The material specificity of a summer tire consists of the fact that it becomes rigid once the temperatures drop. Here is where all-season tires come into play. The latter remain flexible as the climate cools, which maintains their performance properties. In this sense, summer tires are exclusively meant for the warm weather. Their performance ratings drop substantially whenever you drive with them in the cold season. This translates into less balance and stability as well as increased braking distance.

Differences Between an All-Season Tire And a Summer Tire

As many drivers oscillate between a summer tire and an all-season one, we will clarify the performance differences between them. We hope that after the following explanation, you will understand better which tires suit you best.

Let's start with the fact that each tire has a certain purpose. As such, the manufacturers will, first of all, achieve their goal, and only after that - they will add complementary performances at their discretion (premium tire makers add more complementary features while low-budget ones- do less).
If we talk about all-season tires, their purpose is year-round versatility, except in harsh winter conditions. In this sense, manufacturers prioritize their flexibility both in cold and hot conditions as well as longevity to serve all year round. For this, they use advanced rubber that does not lose flex due to thermal changes. Also, they apply symmetrical patterns that increase tire mileage.

They do not have the same agile performance as a summer tire. Also, they are not as stable and reliable in snow as specialized winter tires. Instead, all-season tires serve their purpose through generous mileage and ensure decent year-round traction and performance. 

On the other extreme, the goal of the summer tire is agility, dynamics, and sharp performance in warm weather conditions. So, tire makers do not put much emphasis on longevity because longevity is not a priority in the summer tire, but its high-performance nature. As such, tire makers apply all possible technologies to make the summer tire as balanced and tenacious as possible, even if it means less mileage.

The table above indicates the critical differences between summer tires and all-season tires. If you are also oscillating between one model or another, we hope this guide will be useful to you. Think about the aspects you prioritize during your driving. Further on, choose the tire that better suits them according to the image above.

When Should You Get Summer Tires?

As you have understood, both all-season and summer tires are suitable for the warm season. All-season tires are a more versatile option for a wider spectrum of conditions. However, they are not as efficient as the specialized summer ones. So, it all depends on what exactly you want from your tires.

Generally speaking, summer tires are a good idea for those who live in areas with constant high temperatures around or above 43°F. It is not a problem at all if the weather brings occasional rain because the summer tire does a great job with hydroplaning control.

The all-season tire is a good alternative for those who live in areas with an unstable climate. If it fluctuates from hot to cold, from rain to snow, an all-season tire is more suitable. You will not have the same agility as with a summer tire, but instead, you will be prepared to face various weather transitions.

Summer Tires: Pros And Cons

Like any other tire, the summer ones come with a sense of benefits and disadvantages. Let's see what they are:

Summer Tire Pros:

  • Enhanced stability: The summer tire has a shallower tread and lower grooves in its construction. This positively influences handling and balance during maneuvers such as acceleration, braking, and cornering;
  • Great wet capabilities: the components of a summer tire offer a sensational grip on both dry and wet surfaces. These tires establish tight contact with the road and evacuate water super-efficiently, which minimizes the risks of hydroplaning;
  • Fuel efficiency: Summer tires usually provide a pretty low rolling resistance. This is due to the tight contact with the road that generates less friction while rolling. Consequently, the tire rolls easily on the road without much effort, which means low fuel consumption;
  • Spirited driving: Summer tires are the most agile of all categories. These provide the sharpest response to inputs and are the most balanced in cornering.

Summer Tire Cons:

  • Costs: you will not be able to use these tires in the cold season. So, when the time comes, you will have to switch to all-season or winter tires, which means another pair of tires. This is one of the reasons why many drivers opt for all-season tires;
  • Whether limitations: it is dangerous to drive with summer tires in the cold season. So, you have to be foresight and know when the cold weather changes to change the tires in time to avoid the associated dangers.
  • Less mileage: the purpose of summer tires is high performance and not longevity. As a result, they wear out faster than all-season tires. 

5 Most Recommended Summer Tires

Continental ExtremeContact Sport

I will start with a tire with an amazing high-performance nature. It's about the Continental ExtremeContact Sport, which gains ground through its superior control and balance. Its braking properties are sharp and agile providing spectacularly short stopping distance. In addition, this ensures safe maneuvers in slippery and wet conditions.

The ExtremeContact Sport tire delivers pretty decent dry controllability. It grips tightly with the road and counters lateral forces very confidently. On wet roads, this manifests itself reliably and you feel it is compact and steady even at higher speeds.

Every tire has certain drawbacks and ExtremeContact Sport is no exception. According to several expert and independent reviews, the tire seems to be sensitive to high temperatures. In other words, the tire tends to lose agility slightly when thermal levels rise too much. 

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Product Ids: 142012, 142038, 142067, 142070

Michelin Pilot Super Sport

This tire stands out, first of all, through the specific design of the tread. Namely, it is responsible for the grip quality of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tire. In addition, its construction is very solid, which makes it very resistant to impacts and damage. This tire provides superior traction accompanied by fast and short braking capabilities. Also, it is praised for its spirited nature in acceleration and effective combat of lateral forces.

A major advantage of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tire is the mileage it can cover. It is about a 30,000-mile warranty which sounds very promising for a summer tire.

While the tire feels steady and controllable at high speed, it produces relatively loud noises compared to other in-class models. So, this is the main drawback of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. If you are ready to accept this shortcoming, the overall performance profile of the Michelin Pilot Super Sport will not disappoint you. 

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Product Ids: 200462, 181091, 86734, 142098

Continental SportContact 7

The selling point of the Continental SportContact 7 tire is its superb dry grip. This does not mean that it lacks other performances. However, the grip on dry roads makes it one of the best options for dry road conditions.
The Continental SportContact 7 tire also stands out for its tenacity at high speed. You feel confident, balanced, and stable in any input. It has an impressive acceleration power that is maintained both on dry and wet surfaces. The wet acceleration is a few seconds later than the dry one. Still, the Continental SportContact 7 remains among the leaders on this subject.

The braking properties of the tire also bring satisfaction to drivers. It brakes quickly but safely, with only about 10 meters of braking distance at a speed of about 90 kmh. Last but not least, the Continental SportContact 7 tire is average priced compared to other summer options, which makes it extremely attractive for the multitude of benefits it has.

As for the drawbacks, Continental, unfortunately, did not design the SportContact 7 in too many sizes. So, you might find this tire unavailable for your application. Either way, those who find it available will enjoy high acceleration, great wet control, nice dry traction, enchanting high-speed performance, and superior grip. 

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Product Ids: 232291, 231010, 232197, 232294

Pirelli P Zero

Pirelli P Zero comes to solve what the previous Continental did not solve: the diversity of sizes. The tire maker has developed an impressive number of sizes for the P Zero line for diameters from 17'' to 22''. So, any spirited vehicle can be equipped with this model for a performance boost in the hot season.

Notably, the Pirelli P Zero stands out for its susceptibility to the driver's tasks and quick and precise response. Driving through various obstacles is not a challenge at all for this tire. It corners very tenacious and balanced, grips superbly, and responds very precisely to inputs.

Still, the tire is praised for all its performances apart from durability and wear resistance. It seems that Pirelli had to sacrifice these aspects to enhance the high-performance spirit of the Pirelli P Zero tire. In this sense, this tire is suitable for those who want an impressive summer performance even with the price of wear. 

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Product Ids: 30116, 41998, 229060, 153251

Bridgestone Potenza Sport

Bridgestone offers a summer tire with an enchanting performance profile at an extremely advantageous price. So, the ratio between price and quality is the strong selling point of the Potenza Sport model. This tire is also available in a wide variety of sizes and their price is almost 2 times more advantageous than other models in the class.

The Bridgestone Potenza Sport is very capable not only on smooth roads but also on those full of obstacles. It perfectly adapts to cornering and acceleration tasks without losing stability and balance.

Its traction, grip, and responsiveness are its outstanding advantages. It resists thermal impact well, which makes it optimal for lovers of high speed. In addition, you will reach high speed in just a few seconds because the tenacity and traction power make it very dynamic.

This tire loses some points in the wet handling aspect. Still, this is at a sufficient level of safety and stability. While dry acceleration is not an issue, the Bridgestone Potenza Sport tire tends to hydroplane in the wet at high speed. So, you better keep the speed under control during heavy rains or look for tires with superior hydroplaning control properties.

Either way, the hydroplaning tendency is the only major drawback of this tire. For the rest, it's all about benefits like great price points, excellent dry performance, safe enough wet performance, great thermal resistance, and high comfort and noise control ratings. 

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Product Ids: 233810

Summer Tires: FAQs

What Are Summer Tires For?

A summer tire is the best option for warm weather conditions. These tires perform wonderfully at high temperatures and deliver superb traction and grip on hot roads. The specificity of these tires lies in their special formula and tread pattern. Their rubber is specially designed to withstand high temperatures without compromising safety and performance in summer weather.

The tread pattern ensures good grip and stability even at high speed, on wet and dry roads, which makes summer tires extremely compatible with vehicles with a sporty nature. In the same sense, summer tires should never be used in cold conditions. These decrease in their performance properties because their rubber is not meant for cold temperatures. Thus, all-season tires would be a more reasonable option for when the temperature drops to 10 degrees and below.

Is It OK to Use Summer Tires in the Winter?

Absolutely not. It's neither okay nor safe. Summer tires are not designed for winter conditions. They have neither the right tread pattern nor the right resistance to cold to perform safely in winter. Drivers who choose to drive with summer tires in winter are putting their safety at risk.

The vehicle will slide on the snow and will be uncontrollable in cornering and braking. In this sense, all-season tires are a better option for mild winter. Or, snow-dedicated tires are the right way to go if the winters are very severe. The summer ones must be excluded from the list of options for winter conditions.

Are Summer Tires Necessary?

Everything depends on the climatic conditions in which you live. Summer tires are a good option for those who live in areas with long and very hot summers. These provide decent traction, grip, and agility, with nice dry and wet performance, as well as superb heat resistance. If summer conditions are usually cold, all-season tires can also be an option.

When Not to Use Summer Tires?

Summer tires perform best on dry and wet surfaces at high temperatures. This means that the conditions in which temperatures drop close to zero Celsius and below are not favorable for summer tires. The more the temperature drops, the more the summer tire loses its capacity. As such, drivers must avoid them once the weather cools down, starting with 8 degrees and below. This should be the right moment to switch to all-season tires. Snow and ice conditions are contraindicated for summer tires.

How Cold Will Damage Summer Tires?

The concept of summer tires is to stay performing in hot temperatures. Once the temperatures cool down, the rubber in them becomes more and more rigid, which will affect their performance. The rubber of summer tires is specially created to withstand high temperatures and not low ones. As a result, drivers will experience sluggish braking, poor wet performance, and lower handling, among others, if they use them in cold weather. So, a temperature of about 45 Fahrenheit and lower is a good time to think about replacing tires.

How Cold is Too Cold for Summer Tires?

Experts recommend that drivers use summer tires whenever temperatures do not fall below 5-8 Celsius degrees. Once they pass this threshold, the tires become rigid and dramatically decrease in their performance and safety. 5-8 degrees Celsius is the right time to switch to all-season tires.

Do Summer Tires Wear Faster?

Compared to other types of tires such as all-season tires, summer tires start to wear out faster. This is explained by the formula of the rubber in them. The point is that the concept of summer tires revolves around superior grip, extreme tenacity, and superb braking abilities in both dry and wet conditions. All this is possible thanks to the softer rubber compound in the summer tires. All these advantages though, come with the price of shorter tread life.

Are Summer Tires More Comfortable?

Most tire makers prioritize comfort and noise suppression in summer tires. Consequently, they are predominantly less noisy than their all-season counterparts, for example. Their tread is not as deep and they do not have sipes as in the case of all-season or winter tires, which makes driving slightly more comfortable. However, it is worth mentioning that the degree of comfort of summer tires also depends a lot on their unique features and the technologies that the manufacturers invest in them.

Are Summer Tires Softer?

Yes, summer tires have a softer compound than other tire types. The soft formula is a necessary premise to increase the degree of grip and overall performance on summer roads. At the same time, the soft compound tends to wear faster.

Are There Different Types of Summer Tires?

There is a small classification of summer tires that you have to consider. It is about the 3 typologies that include: city tires, off-road tires, and high-speed tires. As you can see, they differ in their speed rating and tread to match the specific environmental conditions.

As such, city tires usually have a speed rating from S to T and are the most advantageous in price. The high-speed summer tire varies between V and W speed ratings. Finally, the off-road summer tires have a slightly more aggressive construction to cope with off-road conditions. For the most part, they have the LT or C symbol on their sidewalls, which is deciphered as Light Truck or Commercial Use tire.

How To Buy The Right Summer Tire?

Choosing the right summer tire is the most important step for the ultimate driving experience. Before choosing the right tire, start by determining the conditions under which you mainly drive. You have seen above that summer tires have advantages and disadvantages. Your job is to familiarize yourself with both aspects.

For example, the Potenza Sport might not be the best solution if rain is a frequent phenomenon in the areas where you live. Alternatively, this model could be a phenomenal choice for those who live in relatively dry areas. So, the same tire can be the best or the most inappropriate, depending on the specifics of each driver.

Your prerogative is to find the summer tire that corresponds to your driving conditions. And only then do you consider the price or the brand. A good tire must cope with the driver's specific requirements. Otherwise, neither its price nor its brand have much value. Drive safe and choose your summer tires wisely!

Why Trust Us?

The NeoTires team has been fully dedicated to tires and everything that means road safety for more than 5 years. We are passionate about this industry and we propose that every driver knows as much as possible about rubber and its impact on driving performance.
Here we dedicate ourselves not only to the sale of tire products but also to constant development in this field. For this purpose, we find not only the best offers, but also self-educate in everything that means tires, rubber technologies, road safety, and driving performance.

Further on, our team includes specialists from various fields associated with the rubber industry. We collaborate with specialists in the mechanical field who help us evaluate the tires through various tests. Also, we have content writers who thoroughly check and validate every piece of information in our blog. Also, we keep an eye on innovations in the automotive and rubber industry to keep our readers and clients up to date with all the industry news.

Last but not least, we assist our customers throughout the whole tire-buying process. We have trained assistants who are ready to offer the best recommendations. Our goal is not just to sell tires but to match the needs of each driver with the right tires.

Brian Darr is a passion-driven enthusiast who has become an expert in the tire industry. His passion for rubber started with his first driving experience. He firmly believes that the performance and safety of any vehicle are due, first of all, to the quality of the tires mounted on it.
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