Yes, Cold Weather Can Damage Your Performance Tires

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Some performance tires can crack in the cold!

We all know those cool summer tires not only lack grip in cold weather, but did you know they can also be damaged in these freezing temperatures?

cold weather damage performance tiresRubber products, including tires, become more rigid as temperatures get this low. We’ve even seen performance tires not only lose traction and grip, but crack and damage beyond repair due to our Iowa blow freezing wind-chills.

General Motors notably advises against such driving during colder chills, at the risk of developing damaging cracks in their tires. Also, important to owners looking forward to those zippy spring drives, it’s imperative to have their tires thoroughly inspected by a professional.

GM went as far as to publish a notice in January of 2014 saying:

“…avoid driving, moving, or test-driving vehicles equipped with high-performance summer-only tires below 20º F as operating at these temperatures can cause damage to the tires.”

In many manufacturers’ quest to deliver “the ultimate handling” in their higher-end cars, they’ve built performance tires with essentially a racing compound to deliver the goods. These tires are great for driving in temperate areas and are ideally suited for track use, but the practicality of the tires stops there.  And while Iowa does have it’s own NASCAR track, it certainly isn’t running with temperatures as low as we see them today (-30 windchill projected!).

Pirelli, the king of performance tires, explains that in colder temperatures, the performance tread compound becomes so stiff on such tires that it can lead to cracking when deformed. In measuring the hardness of numerous brands of summer tires at 0º F, {they’ve} found the tread becomes almost inflexible and the tires lose their bounce when dropped. The cracking is characterized as cosmetic, but in {their} experience any cracking shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can evolve over time. If there is crack, you should replace the tire.

Here is what you need to do if you own or are considering purchasing performance tires for your car (tips from Consumer Reports).

  1. If you’re considering buying a new car with performance tires:  check the tires on the car for cracking in the tread area. The car may have only a few miles on the odometer, but if it has been parked in the cold and moved around during transport or by the dealer, the tires could have cracked. This is the time to have the dealer change the effected tires, because once you make the deal and drive off, it’s your headache.
  2. If you own a car with summer tires: refrain from using it at all in cold temperatures as the tires may crack. Leave it parked. Beyond cracking concerns, summer tires have diminished grip below 40º F on dry and wet roads and virtually little to no grip on snow and ice.
  3. If you bought your dream car with summer tires on it and live in an area that does have winter: consider using performance all-season tires or dedicated winter tires. These will provide better cold-weather grip and preserve the pricey summer times for the other seasons.

There are a number of all-season tires that also offer higher performance and grip in the warmer months. But for your safety and the benefit to your car’s wheels and general health, make sure you’re driving on the tires best suited for the weather dominant to your area.

Beckley Auto offers a 30-point inspection for all makes and models of cars. Tire inspection is part of that package, and before you drive through this winter, risking potentially expensive repairs or dangerous conditions, have one of our technicians offer the best solutions for your Winter driving.

Click here to schedule an appointment to have your car’s tires inspected today.