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I bought a new car back in June this year and the car comes with summer performance tires.

I live in Minnesota and now it's December, so I really want to get snow tires installed instead of driving in summer tires (since I've read that this may damage the treads).

So my question: is it a good idea to keep the summer tires I have and buy new snow tires and mount them for now and when the winter is over, put those summer tires back on?

I know nothing about mounting tires, so I'm concerned that changing tires every year would damage the wheels.

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    A lot of people will buy a second set of steel wheels (plus hub caps) to mount their winter tires on. This serves two purposes: 1) keeps your alloy wheels looking nice; 2) No need to spend the extra money for mounting/balancing your tires twice a year (wheels will pay for themselves in about a year or so). – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Dec 12 '16 at 19:19
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    @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Thanks for the advice. So switching between the sets of wheels would cost less? or maybe it's easy and simple enough that i can do it on my own? – Will Dec 12 '16 at 19:32
  • @anonymous2 answered quite nicely my points :o) – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Dec 12 '16 at 19:46
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    If you do the change yourself, somewhat counterintuitively, make sure to put the best tires (deepest grooves) in the rear. That's because if you lose traction on the front wheels, you keep going forward; if you lose traction on the rear wheels, and are unlucky, the car could make a skidding U-turn on its own and suddenly not only do you not have any traction to speak of, but you are moving backwards. If you pay a shop to switch the wheels for you, they will take care of this. – a CVn Dec 12 '16 at 20:59
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    @Will swapping the wheels over is a very easy job to do yourself - it's just the same as changing a wheel when you have a puncture (something all drivers ought to be able to do), but doing so 4 times... – Nick C Dec 13 '16 at 10:31
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As Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 said, saving the rims turns out to be a better solution. Usually, we keep two sets of rims: one with our winter tires, one with our summer tires. A very rough average lifespan (with my driving) for tires is around 3-4 years, so we can just swap our rims 3-4 years in a row before having to replace the tires.

Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 mentioned that it keeps your alloy wheels looking nice and it saves money mounting and balancing wheels. All very true. Another benefit that I have found personally is that replacing your own summer tires (except on huge vehicles) is a one hour job for a regular handyman. Hence, money saved.

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    As anonymous2 said, a second set of rims is the best way to go (my opinion - no damage to alloys etc) but, winter tyres degrade with sunlight so i only ever use them for two winters then replace as the performance falls drastically m- cheaper than wings for the car... – Solar Mike Dec 12 '16 at 19:48
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    I have 2 sets of rims for all my vehicles, one set with performance summer tires, one set with quality winter tires. The cost of purchasing the extra set of rims is easily offset by the cost of mounting and balancing twice a year. And all cars come with a jack and tire iron, so you can do the switch-over yourself. Just get your wheels torqued. – tlhIngan Dec 12 '16 at 20:02
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Two sets of wheels/rims, one with each set of tires can be a great idea; although since you mention your car is new, it probably came with a Tire Pressure Management Sensor (TPMS) system, which can complicate things.

It varies by car maker, but some vehicles have no (easy/cheap) way to switch between different TPMS sensors that would be in each set of wheels, which means you would still have to make a trip (and probably pay $$) to your car dealer or mechanic each season to have your car's TPMS system re-programmed to use the other wheel-set's set of TPMS sensors.

More info: http://www.tirereview.com/dealers-drivers-need-to-think-of-tpms-in-winter-tire-changeovers/

  • The alternative of course being to leave them in the summer tires ignore the tmps warning light when you have the winter tires on. You just have to pay attention to your car and check your pressure every so often. – mao47 Dec 13 '16 at 13:05
  • You are very correct! I've had a conversation with the guy from the dealership about getting a new set of wheels, and he mentioned exactly the same thing! – Will Dec 13 '16 at 21:03
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First, you seem to be asking about changing tires on rims between summer and winter which, in addition to being overly burdensome as opposed to having two wheel sets, could be detrimental if tires do not fit properly. Remember that snow tires are narrower than standard tires (performance or otherwise whatever that might mean), so it is recommended that the tires, winter and summer, be compatible with the wheels upon which they are mounted. Check with car or tire manufacturer for that information and comply for your vehicle. Good idea also to have chains in the even it becomes necessary to drive on ice, albeit that driving on ice should be avoided to the max where possible. People in your part of he world will be generally aware of such things.

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I don't know how Driver's code work in the USA, so this answer might be terribly wrong, but wouldn't it be cheaper for you to just put chains on the wheels when you expect ice on the road?

I've almost never heard of summer/winter tire changing (Spain), probably because when there's ice, chains are mandatory by law.

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    winter vs summer tires are becoming more common in Belgium every year. They are even mandatory in Germany and some other countries. They have better grip and shorter brake distance under 7°C then summer tires because they are made of a different compound. Chains are for snow/ice. But not to drive on the motorway on a clear day at -2°C. – roel Dec 13 '16 at 9:14
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    Chains are only good when snow and ice are beyond a certain thickness. Most scandinavian countries only allow them when the snow and ice cover is sufficient that the road will not be damaged by the chains. – Rory Alsop Dec 13 '16 at 10:03
  • As the previous commenter pointed out - chains are good for occasionally driving slowly in ice/snow. I wouldn't want to do hours at motoway speed on ice with chains. The noise and wear to the chains (and the tyres, and car, especially if a chain breaks) would be terrible. If you have months of ice/snow you need winter tyres, and if it's several months with severe icy conditions even on hihgways then I'd go for studded ones. – Anders Forsgren Dec 13 '16 at 11:10
  • I just never heard or seen somebody changing tires for seasonal purposes, and where i live we go from -5 ( just a week ago) to 43 (august), thanks for correcting me. – CptEric Dec 13 '16 at 14:16
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    @CptEric, optimal temperature for summer tires is above ~8 °C, if I remember correctly. Sub zero temperatures would adversely affect the material they are composed of. I'm from Europe and come winter, changing the tires becomes mandatory by law. Causing traffic stalls or similar due to inappropriate car equipment is a finable offense. November and March are the two busiest months for tire changing companies around here - I suggest not to never get a flat tire in any of the Alpine countries during those two months... – predi Dec 13 '16 at 14:28

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