Automotive tires have come a long way since the days of the Model-T Ford. Nowadays, tires are being engineered with vulcanized and synthetic rubbers to perform under a variety of temperatures and conditions. Due to the specialization of these compounds, you cannot obtain the performance aspects of an engineered tire in all conditions. But, all-season tires have captured this segment of the market for consumers who are simply looking for the universal tire that they can run practically everywhere.
No. Although it is possible to drive on winter tires in the summer, the consequences prevent people from driving on them. These consequences include high wear and tear, poor handling, and poor gas mileage. Summer tires or all-season tires are preferred during the summer for improved handling and better gas mileage. Although summer tires have a softer tread compound and shallow treads that wear out faster, they are worth the investment for summer driving. Winter tires have deeper treads but will be too soft and gummy in hot weather.
The Differences Between Winter and Summer Tires
When it comes to winter and summer tires, these tires are made of specialized compounds that are particularly suited for each season. The rubber of the winter tires tends to stay supple in the cold weather for gripping the roads better. Winter tires feature thousands of micro-slits that bite into the snow and ice. Some feature removable or permanent metal studs that are perfect for chiselling into the ice and packed snow. Summer tires are made of compounds that stay supple and grippy only in warm temperatures. They also tend to feature a shallower tread that grips the road better and channels water away during the rainy season.
You should not even store summer tires in weather that drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Flexing the summer tires at these temperatures can cause them to crack and deteriorate. When it comes to winter tires, the rubber compound becomes extremely soft in the hot weather and will quickly wear down the tread. Therefore, you should never run summer tires in cold weather nor snow tires on temperate roads that never freeze. Winter tires will reduce your fuel economy and should be reserved for areas where it is simply not safe to drive on the roads during the winter.
When you choose to drive on winter tires, it is generally better to have them mounted on heavy steel rims. This is because the snow and ice are easier to dig into when the unsprung weight of the vehicle is higher. The unsprung-weight is the weight of the vehicle below the springs and suspension. Drivers who have rear-wheel drive vehicles often are forced to put additional weight in their trunks simply to get traction in colder weather. This also reduces fuel economy and does not ensure their safety.
Only all-wheel drive, 4X4, and front-wheel drive vehicles are particularly suited for the winter. Rear-wheel drive vehicles tend to be difficult to control and will spin out easily because it is hard to adjust the wheels when they start losing grip. Removable chains should only be used on your all-season tires in emergencies and not used through an entire season of inclement weather. These chains tend to slip around and can wear the tires bald relatively quickly.
When shopping for summer tires, you should always look for the styles that channel away water. These tires may be directional with V-shaped channels that push water out of the way. Having a place in your home to store your summer tires that are always warm is recommended. When you store summer tires, you should ensure that they are not under any pressure that may flex them.
Changing Your Tires
You can pay a professional tire shop to change your tires over between seasons or simply do it yourself by following these easy steps. You may also refer to our article, How to change winter tires: A Step-by-Step DIY Guide.
Step 1: Place the vehicle on a level and flat surface that is ideal for an automotive floor jack. Make sure that the floor jack has a sufficient 3-ton or 4-ton rating to handle the weight of your truck or car. It also requires the necessary height lift for raising the vehicle.
Step 2: Look for the little triangle markers that are embossed into the metal near the wheels of each vehicle. They are always on the side of the wheel nearest to the passenger compartment. These triangles will help you locate the stiff metal protrusions that are called lift-points. The lift-points are reinforced metal that will not deform when you raise the weight of the vehicle upon them using the jack.
Step 3: Once you have the jack close to the lift-point, you can remove the lug nuts. This requires a tool called a breaker bar and a socket that is the correct size for your lug nuts. This can be anywhere from 19-24mm on average for foreign cars. Once the lug nuts are loose, you can raise the jack and remove them completely.
Step 4: Replace the wheels. Then hand-tighten the lug nuts before lowering the jack. Once the wheel is back on the ground, you can finish tightening the bolts by using a torque pattern. A torque pattern requires you to tighten the lug nuts evenly by tightening the ones opposite of each one you finish. Check for the torque specifications of your vehicle and use a torque wrench to ensure that your rotors are not warped by excess pressure. Repeat the process for each wheel.