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Tire Talk: All-weather good for year-round use

Unlike true winter tires, all-weather tires are as good to run in the summer rain as they are in the winter snow.

Published September 21, 2012

Q: I have noticed in a couple of your columns the term “all-weather” tires. Are they different from “all-season” tires? The all-weather tire you recommended is the Hankook Optima 4S series. I went on the Internet to check price and availability, but came up empty as it appears not to exist.

A: Any company can call any tire anything it wants. They don’t, but they could. There are industry councils that make recommendations but, in the end, it is self-policed.

It used to be that way with winter/snow tires as well, but Transport Canada created a standard series of tests for those tires. Tires that pass get the winter snowflake pictograph on the sidewall. It is an outline of a mountain with a snowflake. Winter tires are traditionally only driven in winter.

What I call all-weather tires have the winter snowflake rating, but are meant to be driven year-round. In Canada, the all-weather tire list is short: Nokian WR 2, Hankook Optima 4S, Vredestein Quatac, Goodyear Fortera TripleTred and Yokohama W-Drive.

The Hankook Optima 4S tires are in very short supply. They are not sold through Hankook dealers, since Canadian Tire has the rights to this model. So head on down to CTC.

Q: I have nitrogen in my tires (dealer convinced me of the advantages). I recently had my car in for service and asked the tire guy if he checked the pressure and whether he filled with nitrogen. He told me that since no tire manufacturer recommends nitrogen, he will not use it. Is this accurate? Also, does it make sense to mix the nitrogen with air?

A: First of all, yes it is fine to mix nitrogen with compressed air. Air is already 78.08-per-cent nitrogen anyway. When you need air, you need it and don’t need to be fussy.

No tire company recommends nitrogen, nor do they say don’t use it. They don’t care. It is a consumer fad that, in everyday driving, makes not a whit of difference. It is nice for the tire/auto retailer who can charge extra for the nitrogen.

Unless you are driving a Formula 1 car or an A380 Airbus, compressed air works just fine. If you get the nitrogen fill free, take it, it can’t hurt. If you have to pay extra, stick to compressed air.

Q: I have a 2004 Porsche 911 coupe. I now have Continental tires, P225/40ZR18 on the front and P265/35ZR18 on the rear. Should I stay with Continentals or consider the Hankook EVO V12? My front tires are good but the rears need to be replaced. I am an average driver, not a track guy.

A: The Hankooks are a great tire and cost less than the Contis. However, if you consider changing to Hankooks, you have to change all four tires.

It is never a good idea to mix tread patterns, tire manufacturers, or ages of tires on any car, especially a sports car. Even though you say, you are an average driver; you may be tempted from time to time to take advantage of your car’s handling.

So, if the front Continentals are still relatively new, buying two rears may be less expensive than buying four Hankooks.

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