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Can You Use Winter Tires All YearConsidering that the average cost of purchasing and having four new ones installed is around $600, it’s not surprising that people in cold climates would want to keep their winter tires on throughout the year, the prevailing thought being, “Instead of purchasing different tires for each season, why not pick one type that will work all the time?”

Though it might sound like a logical conclusion, it is anything but; winter tires should only be used during the titular season.

Why Winter Tires Should Only Be Used in Winter

The issues that arise with keeping your winter tires on all year include the following:

Accelerated Wear and Tear

First and foremost, it’s vital to understand that different kinds of tires are designed to work in specific conditions, and winter tires are no exception. They have tread patterns intended for providing traction in snow and slush, and the rubber they use is much softer and more flexible than all-season or summer tires, seeing as it must conform to icy, snowy surfaces for optimal grip.

As such, taking to the roads on a dry, warm day can cause your snow tires to deteriorate at a concerning rate, as they’ll be putting in the extra work for practically no reason.

Poor Performance in Dry Conditions

As a consequence of snow tires’ softer rubber and larger treads, a car’s traction with them in dry weather is significantly diminished. All the qualities that make winter tires desirable for slippery conditions make them terrible during the rest of the year when harder, more rigid tires with shallower treads provide much better performance.

Noisiness

The deep, wide treads of snow tires will not only cause squishy handling, but they’ll make a lot of noise, too. With a winter tire, each stud or tread comes around and hits the surface of the road during driving, which translates to a loud humming sound in the cabin.

Potential Illegality

The terms “winter tires” and “snow tires” may be virtually interchangeable, but we must address snow tires with studs. Some states restrict and even ban the use of studded snow tires. Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin all outlaw metal studded tires, while some allow rubber studs. In addition, some states allow all studded tires all year, while others restrict their use by date.

What About Vehicles That Have All-Wheel Drive?

On its own, all-wheel drive (AWD) is not enough to guarantee traction in slippery conditions. If an AWD vehicle has tires with poor adhesion, then it doesn’t matter how many wheels are being driven; the most important factor for maintaining control in snow and ice is having well-designed winter tires.

Install Matched Sets of Winter Tires

Lastly, though it’s possible to purchase individual winter tires, remember that your tires work together as a system. As such, any tire you install should be of the manufacturer’s specified size for your rims, especially if you have an AWD system; more to the point, though, having a combination of something like two winter tires and two summer tires will cause uneven wear patterns and less-than-stellar performance.

No matter how you approach the idea, keeping your winter tires installed year-round is a recipe for disaster. It may be a chore, but swapping your wheels out each season will ensure you’re able to hit the road no matter the conditions.

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