The discussion around seasonal tire changes is a recurring topic for drivers every year. The widely accepted “O-to-O” rule, which recommends switching from summer to winter tires in October and back in April, raises questions, especially regarding the cost-benefit analysis of changing tires. But what happens if you drive with winter tires in the summer out of convenience or to save money? This article explores the legal aspects and practical implications of this decision on insurance coverage.

In Germany, there is no fixed winter tire mandate for a specific period; rather, there is a situational requirement that mandates the use of winter tires during winter conditions such as snow, ice, or frost. Conversely, there is no explicit summer tire requirement, so using winter tires in the summer is not legally penalized as long as the minimum tread depth is maintained.

However, deciding to use winter tires during the warmer months has several practical drawbacks. Winter tires, due to their softer composition, are more susceptible to wear and increase rolling resistance, leading to faster wear and higher fuel consumption. Moreover, summer tires offer better performance against hydroplaning in the rain and ensure higher safety through shorter braking distances and better handling.

Insurance coverage is another critical point. While using winter tires in the summer does not automatically void insurance coverage, it can lead to issues in the event of an accident. If you cause an accident in the summer with winter tires, liability insurance can hold the driver responsible for up to 5,000 euros. Comprehensive insurance may also reduce or deny coverage if it is proven that winter tires caused the accident.

Using winter tires in the summer can be deemed gross negligence by insurers. Although high-quality policies cover damages in such cases, specific exclusions must be considered. Therefore, the safest option is to use seasonally appropriate tires.

For travelers heading to Italy in the summer, extra caution is advised. Certain winter and all-season tires are not permitted between mid-May and mid-October, and violations can result in significant fines.

In conclusion, despite the costs and effort associated with changing tires, the benefits of safety and optimized insurance coverage outweigh the disadvantages. As a compromise, all-season tires offer acceptable performance under various weather conditions without the need for biannual tire changes.