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Winter Driving Guide

Tire dilemma: Should you use snow tires all-year round?

Published October 24, 2012

Q: I just purchased a pre-owned Acura MDX (2008) which came off lease from Quebec. The previous owner had recently put on Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snows – P255/55R18. The dealer is saying we’re better off with these tires as they’ll perform fine during the summer months, but of course they’ll be great next winter.

My wife is pushing to have them replaced with an all-season set instead (the dealer is willing to do this, but I suspect the tires he’s going to give us in exchange will be cheaper than the Pirellis). So — bottom line — should we keep the tires or push for a swap? Can we use these tires year round here in Toronto? Will we suffer this summer, or will they work just fine? So far, we’re really happy with the ride quality, noise level, etc.

A: If you are only using one set of tires all year round, I would keep the Pirelli Scorpion Ice and Snow. There are no all-season tires on the market that will give you ice and snow grip like the Pirelli. If you are planning on using two sets of tires for the year, then keep the Pirellis and get something like a Michelin Latitude Touring for the non-winter season.

Looking at the big picture, going with one set of tires for the whole year always has some compromises. Tire wear is a factor to consider, as all-season tires wear faster in winter than winter tires. Winter tires wear faster in summer than all-season tires. So, there is no winner in wear. Grip should be the biggest consideration for your safety. In the summer, the good quality all-season tire will grip better than a winter tire. In the winter, the all-season tire is a disaster. That’s why the two-tire tango is best.

Should you opt to just go with the Pirellis all year round; the good news is that its design for winter grip does not rely on chunky tread blocks. The chunky blocks wear quickly. The Pirelli has nicely integrated sipes (little cuts in the tread blocks) on the tread blocks. This type of design can take the abuse of running on bare pavement. Therefore, at least if you go the one-tire route, you have the right tire for the job.

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