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Tire Guide

Is driving on winter tires in summer all that bad?

Published July 11, 2013

Q: I have a 1997 Honda Civic with 165,000 kilometres on it. Last December, when I had my winter tires put on, the service man suggested I throw out my regular tires, as they were pretty worn. Now I’m sorry. I don’t want to invest much more into this car, as I don’t know how long it will last. At last week’s tuneup at Midtown Honda, I was told my car was in good shape and the winter tires were fine. But if I kept them on all summer, going on a planned 4,000-km. driving trip would ruin them. Must I buy new tires? Can I use the winter ones and buy all-weather tires next winter if necessary?

A: I’m not keen on the idea of a long summer trip on these winter tires. It can be done. Lots of folks use up old winter tires if the tread blocks are getting to be too shallow to work effectively in the next winter. You didn’t say how many winters these have been on the car or their tread depth, so I’m concerned they may still have lots of tread depth.

Tread blocks that are still tall, squirm and create heat. Add to that high pavement temperatures, a heavily loaded car and perhaps underinflation and you can create tire failure. Remember, too, that winter tires in summer have longer stopping distances than all-season or summer tires. So not the best idea. If you do end up using them, remember to check pressures.

If you use these tires up on your trip, and you will have to buy new tires in the fall anyway, why not do it now? Peace of mind that you have maximized your safety is worth a few bucks. The least expensive all-season name brand I can think of is the Hercules Ironman iMove at about $70. Canadian Tire has a Motomaster AW at about $68, but, really, in that brand, the Motomaster SE is a better value for the long term at $105. Or at CTC you can get an excellent all-weather tire, the Hankook Optimo 4S, for $107.

I know buying new tires for an older car is a pain, but really why take a chance? Tires are the only thing keeping your car on the road.

Q: I tried to do the right thing and got winter tires and rims for my 2011 Honda CRV. I purchased the package including TPM sensors for each wheel, substantially adding to the cost. When installing the wheels, a Honda dealership told me they would have to be reprogrammed at a cost of $70, or the TPMS light would be on all the time on the dashboard. So there’s an extra $140 a year putting the winters on and taking them off in the spring. Honda Canada didn’t return emails when I asked them for options.

My No. 1 option would be to purchase the reprogrammer and do it myself every year. The dealership wouldn’t help me in this regard. I’m thinking of just leaving the TPMS light on all the time during the winter, or selling the winter tires to someone who doesn’t mind the extra cost every switchover.

A: First of all, I would not just sell the winter tires and give up your extra safety margin. I would however phone around to the GTA Honda dealers at changeover time, and ask if there is not a dealer that does tire changeovers that include the resetting of the TPMS units.

That $70-charge, I suspect, is a flat rate charge for one hour of labour. That is crazy. It takes about two minutes per tire to do this job, and that would be a slow technician. In the past, I have run my car on winter tires on extra rims, without purchasing extra TPMS units. The TPMS warning light comes on, but, if you check your pressures, yourself, regularly, it is just a minor annoyance. I’d go this route.

Send your tire questions to:thetireguy_1@hotmail.com.
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