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Why You Should Not Run Winter Tires All Year

Date: 10/06/2017

Vehicle tires are a very crucial factor determining road safety. They are the only connection between the vehicle and the road and therefore contribute a lot to performance. This implies that choosing the right tires is a delicate exercise and should be approached with due diligence.

Different seasons come with various driving challenges. That is why manufacturers have seen it fit to device different tires to handle the varying conditions. There are winter tires, summer tires and all-season tires in the market all of which have marked features that set them apart.

What Makes Winter Tires Different?

Understanding the factors that differentiate winter tires from all others will help us better understand why you shouldn’t run winter tires all year. Here are some of the noteworthy differences:

Chemical Structure

The main difference between winter tires and regular tires is the rubber compound used in the former. Driving in winter means having to contend with slippery surfaces and therefore grip is compromised. However, the compound used in winter tires keeps them soft even in the lowest temperatures. This makes them remain flexible and have a firm grip at all times keeping the vehicle stable while accelerating, decelerating and even stopping.

Tread Design

The tread patterns and depth on winter tires is also more pronounced than in all-season tires. These tires normally feature an asymmetrical pattern. On the outboard side, the treads are bigger and aimed at reducing tire squirming and retaining stability while taking corners. The inboard treads are much smaller and they assist in maintaining traction while on a straight snowy course. 

Siping

This refers to the thin slits that are cut into the surface of winter tires. They provide a bigger surface area meaning improved traction. They therefore make it easier for the tires to get a firm grip on snow. These cuts are almost invisible but they play a big role particularly when brakes are applied. They effectively help to bring the vehicle to a stop with greater ease and prevent sliding.

Studs

These are tiny metal pieces embedded into a tire to help the vehicle get a firm hold on icy surfaces. They also serve to improve traction by providing additional grip. They are however not as common these days and they are outlawed in certain states.

Reasons against Using Winter Tires in Warm Weather

The inconvenience of changing vehicle tires might at times make it tempting to keep the winter tires on even when the season comes to an end. Some reason that the soft rubber will always provide a firm grip thinking that the only issue is that they might wear out faster. Consider some reasons why you should not run winter tires all year no matter what:

Significantly Extended Stopping Distance

A firm grip on the driving surface determines how well your vehicle’s brakes function. When using winter tires during warm weather, the heat compromises the soft rubber compound. This means that even as you brake, instead of holding shape, the tires slide and the material shears. It takes longer to come to a stop and in case of a collision this will mean a greater impact.

Increased Risk

The extra wear that befalls winter tires when they are used in winter could mean the difference between life and death. As tires wear out they become smooth and therefore have very low traction. This means that they will take a lot longer to bring your vehicle to a stop and might therefore compromise on passenger safety.

Lower Performance

The same factors that enhance the winter tires’ performance on icy surfaces are the very same ones that reduce performance on regular road surfaces. Unlike all-season tires, they are considerably soft and therefore squishier. This makes it particularly hard to maneuver the vehicle when making turns. They do not respond as fast as their all-weather counterparts and this is not only inconvenient but also risky.

Noise

Studded winter tires in particular are noisy and annoying. The sound of metal studs digging into the road is not the most interesting one. Additionally, it causes damage to regular road surfaces and pavements explaining why it is either outlawed in some places or strictly limited to use in winter in other places.

Conclusion

Winter tires are made using specialized technology and material specifically for use on snow and ice. It is a lot more expensive to use them on regular roads as they won’t last very long. It is also very dangerous as proven above. So take the few extra minutes to change to all-season tires when spring begins and enjoy better performance, enhanced safety and a lot more convenience. If you need help changing your winter tires and need to get some summer tires contact Spencer Auto Repair in Mesa Az Today.

Sources:

https://www.bridgestonetire.com/tread-and-trend/drivers-ed/driving-winter-tires-year-round

https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=180

https://www.lesschwab.com/learn/article/performance-tire-siping

https://www.bridgestonetire.com/tread-and-trend/drivers-ed/snow-tires-studded-tires-vs-studless-tires

http://www.thedrive.com/watch-this/10036/heres-why-you-shouldnt-use-winter-tires-in-the-summer

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