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Maintenance Matters: A Tire In Winter

In much of the country, all-season tires are the go-to choice for drivers. They offer reliable, consistent performance in a variety of road conditions. However, increasingly, “all-weather” tires are becoming the popular choice.

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In much of the country, all-season tires are the go-to choice for drivers. They offer reliable, consistent performance in a variety of road conditions. However, increasingly, “all-weather” tires are becoming the popular choice.

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According to Tire Review magazine, all-season tires are designed to perform in a wide variety of temperatures and conditions but may prioritize attributes such as wear and ride comfort over snow performance. 

In contrast, the all-weather tire has more characteristics of a winter-type compound that’s able to provide a reasonable amount of mileage for consumers who want to run it year around.

All-weather tires are also designed for year-round performance but are “three-peak mountain snowflake certified, meaning they offer more advanced snow performance than all-season tires.

All-season or all-weather? Sometimes the choice is neither. If your customers decide their best option is to change from summer to winter tires each years, the changeover brings with it a need for consumers to make some decisions. Should they swap tires on the original wheels or should they have a second set of wheels with snow tires already mounted? Cost and convenience will be factors – but regardless, don’t forget safety.

The decision to purchase or not purchase a second set of wheels needs to be followed with questions about TPMS sensors.

Performing changeovers can decrease the time for your return on investment for the equipment you have purchased to service TPMS equipment. Selling a second set of TPMS sensors can be profitable and there are also several more options for sensor service today than were available just a few years ago.

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Shop technicians need to pay attention to the TPMS components to ensure proper sensor operation and an air-tight seal. Exposure to road salt and other ice-melting chemicals can take its toll on TPMS components, according to the Tire Industry Association (TIA).

Changeover Challenges

There can be certain difficulties with some vehicles when using the same sensors on summer and winter wheel assemblies. A TPMS relearn procedure may be necessary if the same sensors are used for both tire sets, but their positions on the axles change.

According to Sean MacKinnon, TIA’s director of automotive training development, “Using a handheld TPMS scan and programming tool, test each tire for sensor activity. Test results will indicate if any changes are needed to the customer’s setup of the winter tires. The technician can then inform the consumer of the proper service steps that can ensure a successful changeover.”

MacKinnon reminds shops that a TPMS relearn fee is becoming more common, especially if the customer has not made a major purchase at the service location. At this time, it’s rare to find vehicles with on-board computers capable of tracking two different sets of tires’ TPMS information. This feature, however, is found on several Toyota and Lexus SUVs and minivans, according to MacKinnon.

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Of course, this time of year brings more glowing TPMS warning lights as cold temperatures cause a drop in tire pressure. MacKinnon reminds technicians to check the spare tire since an increasing number of vehicles with full-size spares are equipped with a fifth TPMS sensor.

Back To Summer

Sooner or later, the threat of snow will end and the switch to summer tires will begin. The same changeover process will take place. The vehicle may require a system relearn, and the TPMS should be inspected depending on what type of services take place during the seasonal exchange.

If a consumer refuses the service, many locations are opting to decline the business. Should a consumer choose to buy winter wheel-and-tire assemblies and the vehicle is TPMS-equipped, the service location should require the customer to implement TPMS for the winter tire set. 

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