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You & Your Car

Winter tires ... in Florida? Add to ...

I just got a new vehicle and for the first time in about a decade I do not have a dedicated set of winter tires. I’ve been shopping around, but am debating waiting until next year to get them. This is why: We are planning on driving to Florida around the end of February/beginning of March. What kind of effect will all of that driving in the warm states have on the tires? What about road noise and harshness from the tires? – Dan

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There are a couple of factors you did not elaborate on. Are you merely driving down and then back after a few weeks, or staying there for an extended period of time?

As for wear, that is a concern, but not as much as it used to be. Today’s winter tires are compounded to remain flexible when the temperature drops below the freezing mark, but they are also more resistant to wear at higher temperatures than the old “snow” tire of days past. Tires wear very little on the open road – the turnpikes you’ll use heading south. Other than aggressive driving in corners at higher speeds, most tire wear occurs when turning at slow speeds in suburban areas and during parking manoeuvres and when drivers use the power steering to turn the wheels when the tire is standing still, literally scrubbing off rubber. Noise and harshness? I would not include that in your consideration. Today’s winter tire has a much more closed, tight tread than the old open/aggressive tread used on snow tires. This new tread pattern uses a lot of science and chemistry in the compound and a huge number of sipes or little slits in the tread to grip the ice or snow, not big lugs and wide grooves as was the case in the past. As a result, the new winter tire is almost as quiet as an all-season tire. I recommend that you buy a good set of winter tires – leave the originals at home and enjoy your vacation. You will need them next winter anyway.

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