The changing of the seasons brings a yearly ritual that we all hopefully enjoy as it signals warmer days and nicer weather. More days are spent with the windows open. The outdoor furniture gets cleaned off in anticipation of more use. We start planning our family vacations. We change the tires on our car.
Wait, what? We change the tires on our car? One of these things is not like the others.
You do change your tires, right? If not, perhaps you should find out more about using summer tires.
It’s safe to say tires are one bit of automobile subject matter that people don’t generally like to think about until they experience a flat. That’s because the process of changing tires is often characterized as time consuming and expensive. Who wouldn’t want to avoid a process that costs you money and time as much as possible? Human nature aside, you could only be causing yourself to incur more expenses down the line by ignoring your tires. Often, the most expensive auto repair can be avoided if proper maintenance is performed at regular intervals.
While some may feel a tire is a tire, practically speaking that isn’t true. The reason why we have tires for different seasons is because environmental conditions can have more of an impact on a vehicle than one might realize. Tires, in particular, are designed to deal with a great deal of stress, wear, and tear. Extreme temperatures sometimes require extra fortification that is specifically built into the corresponding season appropriate tire. If you’ve ever wondered what the real difference is between summer tires, winter tires, and even all year tires, this is the quick guide for you.
Why Not Just Use All Year Tires?
This is probably the first question that comes to mind when you start seeing all these different kinds of tires. Can’t I just stick to one decent set that’s good enough all year round without having to worry about changing them every few months? The answer, as with all things, is “it depends.” Clear as mud, right?
There are three different points to keep in mind when trying to determine what kind of tire is right for you: the climate you live in (or plan to be driving in), the expected driving conditions of that place, and the kind of performance you’re looking to get out of your vehicle. The thing with all year tires is that are decidedly, well, middle of the road. They are the Goldilocks tire. All year tires are just right if you live in a mild climate that doesn’t experience extreme weather in any direction, doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot of rainfall or other conditions that would make roads wet, and you’re not driving a car that you’re looking to get as much control over as possible. We’ll get to the control part shortly.
If you live in an exceptionally warm climate or a cold one with significant snowfall, your all year tires won’t give you the best performance available. This can lead to other problems, to say nothing of the increase in the chances of having an accident. Each kind of tire gives you additional control, including braking ability, depending on the driving conditions. For example, summer tires have the most precise handling and are a good investment for people with sports cars who greatly value having maximum control on sharp turns and the like.
Let’s take a look at winter tires first and why it’s not advised to keep them on your vehicle beyond the snowy months.
Why You Need to Switch Off from Your Winter Tires
To start, many people ask if they can just keep their winter tires on all year. Is there really that big of a difference? No, it is strongly recommended that you do not keep your winter tires on. Depending on how the weather changes, it can be exceptionally dangerous to do so. That’s because winter tires are constructed differently.
The rubber on winter tires is designed to stay soft. That’s because you want the rubber remaining soft enough in the very cold weather of winter. That design will help you have better control and brake sooner in snow. What this means is, in warmer weather when the pavement gets surprisingly hot, the rubber on winter tires can ball up. In some cases, it can even disintegrate. It doesn’t need to be explained how that can quickly turn into a dangerous situation.
Additionally, winter tires offer less fine control, making tight turns far more difficult. And in rainy conditions, even all year tires perform better. In dry conditions, winter tires need far more room to brake compared to summer or all year tires. Your chances of making a sudden stop safely diminish if you keep winter tires on beyond the recommended months.
The Benefits of Summer Tires
You now know how important it is to take the winter tires off once the snow is gone for the year. But, what are the specific advantages of using summer tires during the warm months?
The tread compounds in summer tires are designed in such a way that your vehicle will have better traction on hot asphalt. Summer tires are created with performance in mind, as stated earlier. This is why they are ideal for high-performance vehicles. You get increased precision, responsiveness, braking, and cornering. The shallower tread depth on summer tires grips the road better than all year tires.
Summer tires offer the best handling experience. All year tires, because they have to be serviceable in performance during light winter months and warmer months, handle comfortably enough. But you sacrifice precision and braking. Additionally, summer tires don’t tend to last as long as all year tires because of their shallow tread. If all year tires get about 60,000 miles, summer tires maybe get around 25,000.
Getting Your Tires Regularly Checked
Speaking of keeping an eye on your tread, it’s important to be aware of when it’s time to change tires regardless of the seasons. Bald tires are an unnecessary danger. They can pop with more ease, offer little control, and skid with more regularity. In extreme cases, the tire can be worn down to a flat even if no significant puncture has been made.
If you’re not sure how long ago you bought your tires or you can’t tell if the tread is too worn down, bring your vehicle in to get looked at. A bald tire is an extreme case that occurs after using tires for far too long. A tire doesn’t have to be completely bald before it starts having performance issues. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to old tires.
Doing your due diligence and maintaining your tires is important for both extending the years of use of your vehicle and, more importantly, your own personal safety. Part of that due diligence is making sure you’re installing the appropriate tires for the season. At Independent Motors, we’re committed to providing you with the best auto repair services at honest, reasonable prices. Call us today and schedule a time to bring your vehicle in. One of our expert technicians will provide you with the professional service you deserve.