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How Do I…Know how summer, winter and all-season tires differ?

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The seasons changing usually signals the need to switch tires out. Summer to winter, winter to summer. Or maybe you just wish you had all-season tires. They sound ideal but how do you know if they’re actually a better option for your vehicle and driving habits than the regular summer/winter setup? You might not be able to tell with a quick look but hopefully these tips can help you differentiate and give a better idea of what tires are best suited for your vehicle.

Summer tires’ rubber compound gives them a level of grip that is suited for dry and wet roads in warm temperatures. They also have provide greater fuel efficiency than winter tires since they have less rolling resistance. The reduced rolling resistance also provides greater traction and braking during summer months.

However, summer tires benefits are nullified once the temperature drops to around seven-degrees Celsius. The rubber compound becomes hard and brittle, affecting traction, especially for icy conditions.

By comparison, the compound used to make winter tires contains more natural rubber, so the tire stays flexible in colder temperatures. You may be tempted to keep winter tires on all-year round but that isn’t recommended since the rubber is too soft for dry asphalt and will wear out quickly. Since winter tires also have more rolling resistance, keeping them on all year-round will also hamper fuel efficiency. Additionally, your tires will also last longer if stored vertically in individual air-tight bags during the off-season in a cool, dry place.

Outside of Quebec, Canada doesn’t legally require winter tires. If the temperature rarely drops below seven-degrees where you live, all-season tires may be a cost-effective solution. You could pay $60 to $125 for each tire, and they usually last about three years without the need for seasonal rotation. However, when the tires’ performance is rated for summer or winter, they usually fall below the season-designated tires. Even if your climate is relatively warm, but prone to wet weather, all-performance tires may be a better fit. All-performance tires are similar, but the main difference is that they provide better protection against hydroplaning. – Torstar News Services

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