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Old 02-28-2014, 01:57 PM   #1
ElectricAL
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Do winter tires lose their "magic" over time??

So 3-4 years back I bought some new winter tires (Hankook I-Pike). This is either the 3rd or 4th winter on 'em, now. But the tread depth is still (incredibly) virtually like new. I only live 3 miles from work and so they have very little wear, they see maybe 3000 miles, at MOST, per winter season. They still work fantastic for getting me through snow of any reasonable depth. But they don't seem to stop as well on ice as they used to.

We're noticing the same thing on my wife's car (General Altimax Arctics) on her 3rd or 4th winter. Very good tread depth yet... she maybe puts on 3500 miles per winter. Snow traction seems fine, but ice traction is scarcely any better than an A/S tire. What the heck!? Do the oils dry out or something, thereby causing the tire to harden??


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Old 02-28-2014, 04:34 PM   #2
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I would basically say ya, just cuz it isn't visually wearing down doesn't mean it isn't kinda wearing out. I only learned that from snowmobiling, a five year old track might look new but you can tell it just isn't the same, the rubber will actually stay bent if you leave it like that too long, where a new one wouldn't
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Old 02-28-2014, 04:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b.pearson View Post
I would basically say ya, just cuz it isn't visually wearing down doesn't mean it isn't kinda wearing out. I only learned that from snowmobiling, a five year old track might look new but you can tell it just isn't the same, the rubber will actually stay bent if you leave it like that too long, where a new one wouldn't
You are CORRECT sir!

All tires age, snow tires included. Here's how I found out:

http://www.automobilemag.com/feature...now_tires_faq/
http://www.semperit.com/generator/ww...-depth-en.html
http://tires.about.com/od/Tire_Safet...Tire-Aging.htm
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Old 02-28-2014, 07:53 PM   #4
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Clean out being the ability to remove material from the tread.
Bite being the ability to grip a surface.

On slippery surfaces, ice, a sharp/square edge works best. As you drive the leading edge of the tire rounds with ware. So when you rotate them you need to flip sides, vs the old X pattern or front to back.
When you reverse the rotational direction you bring a square edge back and the tire bites better again.
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Old 03-01-2014, 07:11 AM   #5
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It's not a problem solved by careful tire rotation, unfortunately. Although that might help marginally, and it certainly is a good approach in general, the true problem is that the rubber tread no longer has the super-compliant flex that it once did.

So now when you put a load on the tire (stopping, accelerating, or turning), the tread is more or less staying rock hard. When the tires were newer, the sipes would cause the rubber to readily separate into many "micro-lugs" per contact patch, with a multiplied number of biting surfaces.

Have you ever worn broom ball shoes? If not, trust me... they're amazing in how well they grip the ice. That's because the rubber tread is so squishy soft. When my tires were newer, they were pretty pliable in that manner, if not quite to that degree (if they were, they'd probably only last a single winter!).

So to put it simply: the tires harden over time. Then the sipes no longer work their magic of allowing the tread to properly flex and separate. Then I hit the brakes on an ice patch and I slide just as far as most everybody else does.

Now interestingly (at least to a tire geek anyways), some tire manufacturers have begun to make winter tires with "grit" molded into the compound (e.g. Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2). Although I'm fairly certain that these tires will age (and thus harden) just like any other tire will, the ice traction should drop off to a lesser degree (at least in theory) as the tire ages because of the embedded grit still offering bite even if the tread does not retain the original flex.
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:17 AM   #6
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Nokian's always been a Leader in Snow Tires, took years B4 others followed their lead with winter compounds/sipes. Seeing "silica particles" advertised in a few brands now, following much sooner.

That grit might help a small amount on polished ice, the one area only studs have had much effect on in the past.

Aiming for the snow is the best answer sometimes, anything but where someone else just polished it!

Good post on Winter Tires loosing their grip over time. Most users put more miles on & blame it exclusively on wear.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Nokian's always been a Leader in Snow Tires, took years B4 others followed their lead with winter compounds/sipes. Seeing "silica particles" advertised in a few brands now, following much sooner.

That grit might help a small amount on polished ice, the one area only studs have had much effect on in the past.

Aiming for the snow is the best answer sometimes, anything but where someone else just polished it!
Aiming for snow is the way to go... but many of the residential streets in Minneapolis and Saint Paul (and beyond) have become skating rinks since the last snow storm! (it started out as slush and then dumped a good dose of snow on top of that) Just like most everybody else, we're having a helluva winter here.

It's been disappointing to realize that I no longer have an advantage out there. Not that I need one. But it is nice to have, when your tires are working they way they were intended. Next time around, I'm going for Nokians if I can find them I think. Or with another copycat of their technology.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:55 AM   #8
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I've been running hakkapeliittas on my F150 for three years straight, summer and winter. Tread is sitting at around 70% and is still very pliable. My last truck had blizzaks (RCMP tire of choice btw) and they were comparable to the nokians in terms of performance but didn't last as long.
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Old 04-27-2014, 04:59 PM   #9
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Tires do dry out. Winters, I am not sure how fast. But using them only half the year will save on them a lot! (Will wear out in summer if driven). Also on your summers. I-pikes are a tad stiffer than Blizzacs but way more aggressive I've noticed. 3 or 4 years should be OK. As long as you don't run them in the summer. They will last another 4 years...As long as you rotate and put the correct PSI in them (placord) on your driver door frame)
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:20 AM   #10
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The rubber dries out regardless of where it is stored, a natural thing. The rubber gets harder and less compliant, eventually it will start cracking loose in pieces or crack off into tire body to leak. The VOCs leach out of the rubber.
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