It’s worth swapping winter tires for summer ones

On the web you can come across a variety of answers to the question of whether you need a seasonal tire change and when you should do it. Someone says that you have to change tires in March, otherwise you will be fined. Some people think it should be done in April, some in May… Somebody asserts the opinion that seasonal tire changes are a “windfall for suckers”, otherwise why would there be such a thing as “all-season tires”? So let’s try to understand.

Let’s start with the most common question: is it necessary to change “winter” for “summer”? The answer will depend on what type of winter tires you use. If studded, the answer will be in the affirmative. Indeed, in accordance with paragraph 5.5 of the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union “On the Safety of Wheeled Vehicles” 018/2011 prohibits the operation of vehicles that are equipped with studded rubber, during the calendar summer season, from June to August. Non-compliance with these requirements is included in the Appendix to the Highway Code, “List of violations and conditions” (Section 5), and any traffic police officer is fully entitled to stop your car to check your tires, and in case of violations, in accordance with Article 12.5 of the Administrative Code, prescribe a fine of 500 rubles. However, the violation will be considered as too much wear and tear of the tread (the height of which will be less than 1.6 mm), and the presence of clearly visible damage, and installation of different types of rubber: say, one wheel on the front axle is winter, and the other – summer. The only exception may be the situation when you punched a wheel, installed a spare in its place and go to the tire fitting shop. Having received such an explanation, the inspector will most likely let you go in peace, accompanied by the admonition “Drive carefully! Indeed, the car with the tires with different grip coefficient may behave completely unpredictably at any moment.

Well, if you are using friction winter tires, then change them or not, it is solely your decision. But in order to make this decision was correct, let’s remember what, in fact, winter tires differ from summer.

First of all, they differ in the composition of the rubber compound. In the case of winter tires, this compound is formulated so that the tires retain their elasticity, which means both a high coefficient of traction and normal riding comfort in low temperatures. But what happens to them in the warm season? As a matter of fact, nothing terrible, except that the mixture will become excessively soft. Subjectively it is not perceived bad at all: I myself use friction winter tires, and in the short period before replacement, when it is warm already, but I still continue to drive on them, on dry asphalt these tires seem to me even more comfortable than summer ones, and the car quite decently steers, at least at average speeds. But the same excessive softness leads to the fact that the tread starts to wear out with a cosmic speed. Besides, because of losses on tire deformation during driving the fuel consumption increases essentially.

And the handling is acceptable only on dry asphalt and not too high speed. On a wet surface, everything may not turn out very well… After all, winter tires seriously differ from summer ones also by the tread pattern. The blocks of tread of winter friction tires are dissected by many sipes, which in summer road conditions is not the best way to affect both the accuracy of control and the braking characteristics.

And what may be said about all-season tires? Their use is not regulated at all. But you should take into consideration the following: as any compromise universal solution, in conditions of the average strip of Russia, both in summer and in winter, “all-season tires” will be inferior to specialized tires by all parameters. So, does it turn out that they are not really necessary? Not at all. After all, in Russia there are quite a few areas where there is practically no winter, at least – as we understand it, with ringing frosts and heavy snowfalls. In these places, year-round operation of all-season tires may be justified, especially when we are talking about not the most powerful and fast cars, such as light commercial vans, “heels”.

So, you do need to change your tires, and it’s time to get back to the question, “When should I do it? You’ve already figured out that it’s all determined by local weather conditions. Current TC regulations only prohibit the use of purely summer tires from December through February and tires with snow tires from June through August. Local authorities have the ability to regulate the period of use of winter tires at their discretion, but nevertheless, the decision is always up to the car owner.

But it is hardly worth rushing to the tire fitting shop at the first sound of spring drops. Even if it seems to you that the spring has finally seized its rights, and the daytime temperatures are steadily keeping in the positive zone, it is still not worth rushing. You never know what kind of tricks the weather will throw: arctic cold front with heavy snowfalls and night frosts will come, and what will you do on frozen summer tires on the icy road in the morning? And such situations are not uncommon in our country, as well as snowstorms on May Day. In this question the most correct way is to rely on the data of meteorologists. You may get new shoes on when the average daily temperature will exceed +7 degrees. I underline – not daily, and average daily! And in the conditions of continental climate such level may be reached when the daytime sun will warm up the air up to 20 degrees, and even 25…

But here the decision is made and you are going to the garage or storehouse where a set of summer tires was waiting for you. There is a very high probability that having inspected the tires before installation, you will irritably scratch your head and say the sacramental phrase “yes, but it is high time to change the tires”. In fact, new cars, as a rule, go on sale, equipped with summer tires, the term of its use during the year, as a rule, turns out a little bit longer, and the car is exploited during the warm season much more intensively than in winter. And then you will face the problem of choice: what kind of summer tires do you need? Tire shops and online stores offer hundreds of models of dozens of brands, for all tastes and wallets. How not to get confused and, most importantly, not to make a mistake? You make a very responsible decision, on which depends safety and comfort, and you do not want to spend a very sensible sum in vain…

In principle, there are three types of tread pattern for summer passenger car tires: asymmetric, directional and symmetric. We discussed the features of the asymmetric pattern last time. Theoretically, tires with a directional tread pattern are good in terms of their parameters: they also work well in the wet, and, as a rule, are distinguished by a low noise level. But they have an Achilles heel: they cannot be interchanged randomly, and of the four tires, two will be intended for the right side of the car, and two for the left. It turns out that you also need to have two spare tires, but where would you put them? So, many tire brands, like Toyo, refused to produce this type of tires at all. As for the tires with symmetric tread pattern, they are characterized by relatively high noise level and average traction properties. On the other hand, such tires may be interchanged randomly, thus providing uniform wear. Moreover, they can be shifted on the rim with the other side!

A rather complicated issue is the choice of brand. It is clear that by buying one of the American, European or Japanese brands of the first echelon, you get guaranteed quality and… a hefty markup for a big name. At the other end of the price spectrum are the tires of budget brands. Among them there are European, Asian and Russian, and budget ones do not mean low-quality. But from my point of view, the middle price echelon is the most interesting: it offers a combination of decent quality, advanced technology and quite reasonable price. At the same time, the range of any of these manufacturers includes tires aimed at different classes of cars and consumer groups. Let’s examine these groups by the example of the Toyo Tires brand catalog.

Proxes R888R
Proxes Sport

All Toyo tires are divided into three main lines: Proxes, Open Country and Nano Energy. The Proxes line includes high-performance summer tires for a wide variety of vehicles, from small class models to high-performance sports cars. All of these tires offer excellent handling, high durability and pronounced aqua-drainage properties, although each model has its own characteristics. We’ve already told you about the Proxes TR1 model with asymmetric tread in some detail, but Toyo’s choice of sports tires is not limited to it. For those for whom the asymmetric pattern seems too extravagant, there is the Proxes Sport model with its own set of trumps. Firstly, these are dynamic wedge-shaped grooves with rounded edges, the cross-sectional shape of which helps to reduce deformation of blocks, which in turn provides a uniform pressure in the contact patch and precise following of the set trajectory. Secondly, three types of rubber compound are used in the tire structure. The inner layers, adjacent to the bracker, consist of a high stiffness compound, with a special elastomer designed to control heat generation. For the outer part of the tread, a mixture with a high content of silica, the so-called “silica”, which improves the rubber’s grip on the surface, is used. A third compound is used on the sidewalls, also with high stiffness, but here the stiffness is needed to reduce fuel consumption.

Proxes TR1

The Proxes CF2, Tranpath MPZ and Proxes Comfort models are designed for those who prioritize a smooth ride, comfort and low noise level. Toyo Tires has not forgotten about crossover owners, because the popularity of this segment continues to grow every year. Special versions of Proxes Sport SUV, Proxes CF2 SUV are designed for them, and owners of the most powerful and fastest crossovers are offered a high-speed stylish tire Proxes ST III.

Proxes ST3

These tires are characterized by a spectacular directional tread pattern. The Japanese, who are very fond of poetic images, claim that the design concept of this pattern is based on images of lightning, arrowhead and wings of a modern Stealth generation fighter jet. At the same time all this beauty is quite functional: a lightning-like groove provides improved water drainage from the contact patch, rigid wide blocks improve control on dry surfaces, and arrow-shaped cone-shaped elements increase directional stability when driving straight ahead.

But all these tires are aimed at crossover owners who rarely leave the asphalt and live mostly in the urban jungle. If a potential customer often drives his crossover outside cities and intercity highways, he should pay attention to the tires of Open Country line, first of all – to Open Country H/T model. Not only does it have an elegant appearance, but it also offers driving comfort on any type of surface, high wear resistance and provides safety on both wet and dry roads.

Open Country MT

Open Country H/T tires can be fitted to both SUVs and pickup trucks, but the Open Country line also includes models aimed specifically at those vehicle classes – Open Country U/T and A/T Plus. While Open Country U/T tires are designed for quiet, comfortable, stable, controllable and fuel efficient city driving, Open Country A/T Plus tires are designed for regular use on gravel roads, dirt roads and light off-road terrain. The asymmetric tread design of this tire, forming five ribs with rigid blocks, provides increased wear resistance, low noise level, exceptional steering response when driving on highways, which is perfectly combined with excellent off-road handling and a good ability to self-cleaning when driving on clay.

There is Open Country M/T model for those who want to get on wheels up to “the very end of the geography”, storm real swamps and dells, get by on forest tracks and perform similar off-road feats. By means of a special form of the thinned tread blocks arranged in four rows and developed grousers in the shoulder zone the designers tried to reach high adhesion to the ground. At the same time, the Open Country M/T has a very low (within the mud tread class) road noise level and good (again, for mud tires) performance on hard surfaces.

Open Country MT

The third line, NanoEnergy, is represented by only two models – NanoEnergy 3 and NanoEnergy VAN, but has a large size range. These tires are designed for cars of the budget segment and commercial vehicles, and their owners, as you know, the highest priority parameters are high fuel efficiency and the possibility of long-term operation. Accordingly, their creators made an emphasis on high wear resistance and low rolling resistance. For this purpose, the developers had to play with the mixture composition, using NanoBalance technology, and in the development of tread pattern design make wide use of computer modeling (T-MODE technology).

Well, we have discussed with you, when it is worth to change winter tires for summer, as well as some options for replacing a worn set. In any case the decision is yours, and yours alone. And the choice of tires is also yours, and, choosing the model, you should be guided not only by your lifestyle and planned nature of operation, but also take into account such indicators as load index and speed index. So have a good choice and safe roads!

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