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Winter tires in the summer – is it illegal?

Winter tires are pictured in a Munich garage in 2012.


I was told by the guy who was installing my new tires that you can be charged with reckless driving for using winter tires on your car in the summer. Is this true? – Susanne

To the best of my knowledge there is no jurisdiction where it is illegal to drive during the summer months with winter tires.

What your tire installer was probably referring to is the section of the code that allows for drivers to be charged with operating an "improperly equipped vehicle." This catch-all phrase covers an assortment of issues and could conceivably include the use of winter tires out of season if it could be proved by accident reconstruction experts that the tires contributed to the incident.

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This would not be hard to do as winter tires, designed for optimal grip at temperatures colder than 7 C, are out of their element in hot conditions, resulting in increased braking distance and reduced reaction to emergency steering inputs. The same charge could be laid if the tires lacked sufficient tread, whether they were summer, winter or all-season tires.

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