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driving in the winter

pauljaypauljay 21787Posts: 19
edited July 2016 in Mazda
I know that the new Miata has "winter" tires, but exactly what does this mean? Is there a temperature below which the car should not be driven? Why? I wouldn't drive the car on snow or ice because I know that traction would be a safety issue, but what's the problem driving it on a clear, sunny, cold winter day?


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    edited July 2016
    You mean "all season tires"? If that's the case...well, they aren't really "all season", they are a compromise. On the one extreme, there's the really soft, sticky summer or "sport" tires, which grip like glue on dry roads but wear like socks without shoes, and stink in wet weather. On the other extreme, the dedicated winter tires, which generally have an aggressive tread pattern, are remarkable in the snow, but do not perform well in warm weather on dry roads.

    So All Season tires don't do anything really well, but they can adequately cover all bases in a pinch.

    So yeah, on a dry day in winter, All Season tires are fine as long as you aren't trying to drive 9/10ths.
  • pauljaypauljay 21787Posts: 19
    Sorry, I mean the car has "non-winter" tires. They're not "all season" and you're not supposed to drive on them in the winter? Why not? Is there a safety issue?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    OK--I don't know the spec and the brand on there, so I can't be specific, but if they are a true "sport" tire, then the compound that they're made of, and their structure/rigidity, could be a safety issue on a car driven aggressively, like a Miata might be. They'd probably perform very badly in the wet, should you get caught in unforeseen weather, and strictly speaking, performance tires have been known to crack in extreme cold.

    Summer tires can add a lot of handling competence to a car but they aren't a compromise tire. They are dedicated for one purpose--to grip the road in warm weather. They also wear quickly, so using them all year (even if you can get away with it) will drive your maintenance costs up. I could see summer tires wearing out normally in 12,000 miles, so if you used them all year, that's a new set of tires every 12 months or so.
  • pauljaypauljay 21787Posts: 19
    Thanks, your response make sense!
  • zandorzandor Posts: 67
    Some summer tires are really good in rain, others are just plain lousy. The best wet weather tires I've ever had were summer tires. They were Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3s. They had a directional tread pattern based on a racing rain design.

    More or less all share a common feature of being useless in snow and bad in cold weather. How cold is cold depends on the particular tire, but 40 degrees is a common cut-off. The rubber compound used in summer tires tends to turn into a brick when it gets cold. Then you start sliding around and the car will handle very poorly. Some even void your tire warranty and warn of cracking if driven below minimum temperature.

    If you're going to drive a Miata in snow you'll want winter tires. Larger rear drive cars like the '98 Lincoln I had do ok in snow with all-seasons, but a Miata is light and has wide tires relative to the weight of the car. Wide tires are not good for snow grip. If it's a second car and you just want to be able to drive it in cold weather all-season will suffice, though if you want to use summer tires for the fun part of the year I would get performance winter tires instead.
  • berriberri Posts: 10,165
    Throw some weight in the (tiny) trunk. Might help a little.
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