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Snowflake tires can be year round

Q: I have H-rated Michelins on my 2008 Mercedes-Benz 230 Sport Sedan. I hope to run these for another five years, until they hit Old Age At about 75,000 km (seven years). Is this realistic? What about the mechanical and chemical life of the tire?

I read an article in the Star a few years ago about all-weather tires that could be left on the car year-round. They had the snowflake symbol, I was very impressed with that. Are they available?

A: “All-weather” tires are a relatively new concept, dating back about half a dozen years. These would be tires that qualify and have the snowflake logo on the side wall. They are snow-rated but can be left on the car year-round. On ice these are not as good as winter tires. But everything is a compromise.

Current sedan tires that fit this bill are the Nokian WR and Yokohama W.Drive. Another is the Goodyear TripleTred. But Goodyear does not qualify this tire in this category; they prefer to sell you winter tires instead.

No, I don’t downplay the snowflake designation. Just be aware that it can be used at a tire company’s discretion without independent testing. So look at the big picture of the company as a whole and don’t just jump on anything with a snowflake logo. Note, too, that there are only two tires listed that qualify in my book, plus a possible third.

The chemical life of a tire will vary somewhat, but you can count on five years. At that point check regularly for spider-web-like cracking on side wall and in between tread blocks. When these appear, it is all over. You may get more than five years, but it depends on where you drive and where you park.

Sunlight, ozone (naturally occurring and the kind produced by electric motors) and contact with anything petroleum-based will age a tire. If you drive a lot on new pavement, with its higher oil content, park in the sun, or near an electric motor in your garage or job site, the tires will age faster.

As for mileage, higher-speed-rated tires wear faster but generally have more grip than lower-speed-rated tires. Tires with low rolling resistance last longer but give you less grip. Summer or all-season tires wear faster in cold temperatures than winter tires. Winter tires wear faster in hot temperatures than summer tires.

Q: I drive a 2000 Chevy Silverado 2500 4X4. I have Michelin all-season tires for summer and Toyo Open Country G-02 for winter. I sometimes tow a fifth-wheel holiday trailer.

The sticker on the door says 50 psi front, 80 psi rear. My tire dealer recommends 40 psi all around. What would you recommend?

A: Use the pressures on the sticker. LT tires run at much higher pressures than regular tires because they need to carry a heavier load. This is especially true when you are towing a trailer. At lower pressures the side walls of the tires flex more and that creates heat and heat causes blowouts. For your truck, 40 psi is just too low, especially when it’s loaded. I just don’t know what your tire dealer is thinking.

Email tire questions to John Mahler at [email protected]. Please include vehicle’s make, model and year, tire brand and size, as well as your name, address and phone number. Due to volume, personal replies cannot be provided.

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