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I have winter tires that are very little used (perhaps 5k to 10k kilometres, or equivalently roughly 3k to 6k miles) but almost 10 years old (produced in 2008 week 21). I cannot use them in winter any longer since the rubber has lost its softness and has become pretty slippery. However, the tires still look great (almost like new) and I am wondering if they could be used in the summer?

Since the rubber is harder now than it was when the tires were new, perhaps they are actually better suited for summer use now than before. It would be a pity to just throw them out seeing that they have almost all of the original tread and no other visually detectable faults.

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    As I only use my winter tyres for two seasons and then change them, my tyres are never that old... But personally - no... – Solar Mike Jan 28 '18 at 12:32
  • If you value your life then NO... – Granny Jan 29 '18 at 13:35
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Unfortunately, not really. The concern with 10 year old tires is degradation of the rubber leading to increased risk of failure. This degradation happens regardless of how much you use them. Tires are generally manufactured to last about 5 to 7 years, usually the tread wears out before the rubber goes.

As you noticed the rubber has already changed, once you get them up to highway speed or otherwise get them hot the risk of sudden tire failure is further compounded. That softness you've lost is a key part of why we use air filled rubber tires, so they can flex and distribute force across the whole tire.

The ride will probably be pretty bad also, since tires don't flex the way they were intended anymore.

This is a pretty common topic of discussion in the RV community, because RV's aren't usually driven much so the tires need to be replaced long before the tread is worn out. It's a bit painful because the tires look great.

In some special cases, like if you only use the car for local non-highway trips where a flat wouldn't be that big of a deal, it's less of a concern.

  • Using winter tyres in temperatures about 7 degrees Celsius leads to massive amounts of wear. – Steve Matthews Jan 29 '18 at 9:42
  • @SteveMatthews, thank for the note. Given that I already own the tires and have no other use of them except for driving, massive wear is the least of concerns. The alternative to using these tires is to be wearing out new tires which I would have to purchase. Safety is another matter, though. – Richard Hardy Jan 29 '18 at 14:09
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Don't judge by appearance, judge by feel. Even if they have low mileage and look good, they are not. But you can still get some mileage out of them if you go easy on them. Just be careful and check them frequently.

I think that's how Paul Walker died. The Porsche he was in had wheels that looked great/brand new, but they were in fact old, and couldn't handle the speeds/cornering he was doing.

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Would like to point out, Paul Walker wasn't driving the car when he died. Someone was showing off in their car and killed them both, mainly through stupidity. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 29 '18 at 3:03
  • Yep, you're right. He wasn't at the wheel. Good catch :) – ravioli Jan 29 '18 at 3:05
  • At the wheel or passenger- if the tyres are crap the consequences can be fatal... – Solar Mike Jan 29 '18 at 9:14
  • Driving at a speed in excess of what the tyres can handle could subjectively mean one of two things; you need more capable tyres or you need to reduce your speed. – Steve Matthews Jan 29 '18 at 9:43
  • @SolarMike - In this case, I don't think the tires had much to do with it. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 29 '18 at 17:38

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