Is it OK to Use Snow Tires Year Round?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 02, 2015

Dear Car Talk:

I just became the proud owner of an adorable Nissan Rogue that my granddaughter has named Edgar. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Edgar came with new snow tires, and I really like the way they handle, with all the snow we get. But I would like your opinion on what to do with these tires now. Should I just keep using the snow tires year-round, and when they get worn down, get a good everyday tire? Or should I get summer tires and have them changed every spring and fall? Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

-- Leeanita

Well, if you really love the way these snow tires handle, Leeanita, you might just consider moving farther north, where you can make good use of them year-round. Have you considered Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada?

But if that's not in the cards, I'd recommend removing the snow tires in the spring and using an all-season tire during the non-winter months.

Snow tires definitely help you get through snow. But they've got disadvantages on dry roads: They don't handle as well, because of their cold-weather-oriented rubber compounds and their more-aggressive treads. And they're noisier. You haven't noticed that hum yet?

Nothing awful is going to happen if you drive all summer on your snow tires. But they'll wear out faster than if you used them only during winter months -- when you really need them.

So my advice would be to find a set of good all-season tires, and put those on the wheels you've got now. Then store the snow tires in your garage.

And in November, buy a set of inexpensive steel wheels that you're going to beat up and drive through potholes all winter, and put your snow tires on those wheels.

Then, next spring, you can just swap the wheels, and you won't need to mount and balance either set of Edgar's tires again.


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