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Do Cold Temperatures Damage Car Tires?

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Can the frigid winter freeze hurt the rubber tires on your vehicle?

Snow Cold Temperatures Damage Car Tires winter freeze chill melting ice wheels

Photo: The News Wheel

When winter hits and temperatures fall below freezing, your car feels the chill as much as you do. Cold weather causes your car to suffer in particular ways, from the battery losing juice to the fuel tank freezing up. Even the rubber tires wrapped around the wheels are susceptible to Jack Frost’s icy assault.

The reality is that cold temperatures damage car tires, affecting their durability and performance. Here’s what you need to know to keep rolling safely in winter.

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How cold temperatures damage car tires, and why you should get winter tires

The standard type of tires that practically every car bears when purchased are summer tires. These basic tires are designed to perform optimally throughout most of the year, which means they’re suited to warmer temperatures instead of cold months.

In fact, these standard summer tires consist of a particular mixture of compounds designed to withstand the dry heat of sweltering summers. Because of their material makeup, basic tires don’t perform as well in winter and actually are harmed by cold temperatures.

Below-freezing temperatures cause standard tires to deflate, stiffen, lose traction, and possibly crack from impacting with the road. Stiff rubber doesn’t have the elasticity to flex upon impact, which can cause it to tear and chip apart. They’ll also spin when you try to accelerate on sloppy roads and fail to grip the pavement when you brake.

Therefore, it’s a bad idea to have basic tires on your car during winter.

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Instead, winter tires are a much better option. Their composition is different so they don’t stiffen in winter like summer tires do. Their tread is also deeper to account for snow on the roads, causing them to have better friction and stopping distance during winter than summer tires do.

If you only experience snow and cold temperatures occasionally during winter, all-season tires would be a smart compromise. They have better traction and sturdier composition than summer tires, but can withstand summer heat better than winter tires can.

Source: Tire Rack
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