Can snow tires go all-season?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 2007

Dear Tom and Ray:

My daughter is moving to North Carolina to go to school, and she has brand-new snow tires on her car. Is it safe to drive snow tires in the summer? She needs the money for school instead of buying new tires. - John

RAY: While snow tires are much better than they used to be on wet and dry pavement, our preference for summer driving is still all-season radials.

TOM: Right. The grooves of winter tires are deeper and wider, meaning there's less rubber actually touching the ground. And the rubber compound is optimized for gaining traction on snow and ice, not wet or dry asphalt.

RAY: Plus, the rubber used on snow tires is softer, and wears out faster. So you're wasting the snow tires by wearing them down quickly in the summer, when they're not even helping you.

TOM: So that's why we think Daddy-o ought to step in and buy her a set of all-season radials. They'll be safer for her, and she'll be able to save the tread on the snows for when she really needs them - for the next four winter semesters.

RAY: And if money is really tight, consider a good set of used tires. They're available at junkyards and some tire dealers. Or in the parking lot of a nearby frat house if you're really quick with a lug wrench, John.

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