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I only drive my car to work five days a week, 16 kilometres each day. I would like to know whether I can use my winter tires for all the seasons, and can I use them for four to five years? Thank you very much. I really appreciate your help. – Lihua

Technically you can, but the added wear of using them in summer months means they will be less effective the following winter because you will have worn off some of the tread. You will also experience more road noise, slightly greater fuel consumption and a lower level of grip in hot conditions. An additional reason to go with two sets of tires is that both sets will last longer and be more effective in the conditions they were designed for. The added life and improved fuel economy will go a long way to offsetting the initial added cost of two sets of tires.

Tire sensors

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On our new-to-us Corolla, Toyota service said they were "not permitted" to install our new winter tires (which were already on new rims) unless sensors were installed. The existing all-season tires, also new at time of purchase, apparently did have them. Cost of installation was $333, which was unexpected. They informed us that the "program" has to be reset, with cost associated, every time the tires are changed. All this was news to us. – Cynthia

Sensors are a great idea, useful and a safety feature. But issues like this make it tough to justify during that initial switchover. There is one cost associated with the initial purchase and another with installation. You could have told the dealer to install them or you would go elsewhere. That figure is inflated compared with what you might have paid at a tire shop. The downside of not having the system reset – which can be done at any reputable shop – is that the warning light will stay on all winter.

Tire studs

With respect to better traction in light snow, which tires are better: studdable (without containing the studs) or studdless? I read somewhere that everything being equal, studdless tires have softer rubber than studdable tires, so even though the studdable tires do not have studs in them, they won't grip as well as the studdless tires? True or false? – JM

Go with a set of the latest-generation winter tires. The compound of "studdable" tires is not that different. Most of the new generation of winter tires have similar compounds and some even contain small objects within the compound that generate great traction on ice.

I read your reply to a question about downsizing tires for winter. I'm considering going from size 205X55R16 to 195X65R15 for winter. I see your point about a narrower tire cutting through deep snow, but what about the smaller contact surface of a narrower tire; will it result in a poorer grip or longer stopping distance on ice? – Clarence

What you lose on one hand, you gain on the other. The loss of width on the road surface is made up for by the longer footprint generated by the taller sidewall. The actual contact area will be the same for both.

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