Changing summer tires: when is the right time to do it?

Tire change tips

When should you fit summer tires – and what you should consider

The temperatures are getting warmer – time for a tire change. But when should you switch? What about winter tires? We explain.


Isabelle Rederer/A&W Verlag


The semi-annual tire change date is approaching. We provide tips and tricks for more security and clarity.

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Tire change pending. There may still be snow in the mountains. However, increasingly mild spring weather will prevail. It’s time to answer the most important questions about changing tires.

When do I have to change tires?

With the well-known “O to O” rule—that is, from October to Easter—you can’t do much wrong in this country. Depending on when of the year the Easter Bunny appears, you can also make a trade-off for weather conditions: If there’s no frost on the horizon and temperatures are consistently in the plus range, an early change for summer tires is also advisable.

For the annual tire change, you can easily stick to the rule of thumb from October to Easter.

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If summer tires are stored on rims in the garage, you can change them yourself. However, make sure that everything is done correctly. The pro’s advantage: you don’t have to worry about anything, summer tires are checked, fitted and balanced in the workshop. Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are also recalibrated, which is necessary each time a tire is changed.

Why do I have to change tires at all?

Winter tires are unsuitable for summer temperatures, in part because of the rubber compound and profile structure. Winter tires have a longer braking distance in summer. In addition, there is a higher wear of winter tires in summer and fuel consumption increases due to higher rolling resistance.

In summer temperatures and especially on wet roads, winter tires have a longer braking distance.

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Balancing or not?

If a tire is newly fitted to a rim, the wheel must be balanced. An imbalance can be recognized at the latest when the steering wheel vibrates noticeably at higher speeds or makes an unusual noise.

Balancing new tires is extremely important.

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What do you do with winter tires?

The main thing is cool, dry and dark. Before storage, tires must be cleaned and then dried. Before storing, increase the air pressure by 0.5 bar compared to the manufacturer’s specifications. Tires lose air during storage. Complete wheels should be stored one on top of the other with increasing air pressure. Instead, there are “tree edge” or wall brackets. Store tires without upright rims and turn them over from time to time. If you don’t have space, you give your winter tires to a tire hotel trust workshop.

When storing tires, it is important that they are dry, cool, and dark. Depending on whether they have rims or not, tires are stored standing or lying down.

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When do I need new tyres?

By law, tires must have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm. But this is not enough, especially at highway speeds and in the rain. Ideally, no one should be less than three millimeters for summer tyres, and four millimeters for winter tyres.

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Anyone with less than three millimeters of tread depth on summer tires should wear new summer tyres.

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What about all-season tires?

If you only use your car from time to time, drive a maximum of 20,000 km a year and leave your car in the garage when there is snow and frost, all-season tires can be an alternative. The truth is: All-season tires are a compromise. Grip and braking distance are worse than summer tyres.

All-season tires are a compromise, but it’s still better than driving through the summer with winter tires.

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What should I look for when buying tires?

The easiest way is to get advice on which tires are the perfect fit for the vehicle and your driving style. If you want to check your tires yourself, you must know exactly what dimensions you need. All information can be found on the sidewall of the tire, including tire height, aspect ratio, tire type, rim diameter, load index, and speed index. Winter (snowflake) and M + S (mud + snow) tire symbols can also be found there. In addition to the DOT number, you can also find the date the tire was produced. The last four digits of the DOT number indicate the production calendar week and year. 2022 means calendar week 20 and production year 2022.

How long do the tires last?

And the ravages of time gnaw tires. Tire performance is affected by mileage, weather and wear. Basically, summer tires should be no more than eight years old, and winter tires should be no more than six years old. Of course, mileage also has an effect on age, a tire over 40,000 km must be replaced.

A summer tire must be no more than eight years old.

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What does the new tire label reveal?

The colored square sticker on each new tire provides information about the strengths of the respective summer tyre. There are three categories: rolling resistance/fuel efficiency, stopping distance/wet grip and outer tire noise. The rolling resistance of a tire is measured at 80 km/h and is classified on a scale from A to E. Fuel consumption increases from 0.01 to 0.1 liters per 100 km per class.

Wet braking distance is also measured at 80 km/h and is rated on a scale from A to E. The braking distance is increased by 3 to 6 meters for each category, and the tire’s external noise emissions are measured and specified in decibels on the tire label. In addition, rotational noise is rated on an A to C scale to improve comparability.

The new EU tire label has been in use since May 1, 2021 and helps buyers compare different tires more easily.

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