Hot and Cold – Summer Tire Performance and Cold Weather Cracking

Many GM performance models are equipped with three-season performance tires, commonly referred to as “summer tires.” (Fig. 1) These high-performance tires have a special tread and compound that are optimized for maximum dry and wet road performance. Some of the GM models originally equipped with summer tires include 2012-2017 Regal GS; 2012-2015 Camaro ZL1; 2013-2015 Camaro SS 1LE; 2014-2015 Camaro Z/28, CTS Vsport; 2014-2017 Chevrolet SS; 2014-2019 Corvette, Corvette Z06, Corvette Grand Sport, Corvette ZR1; 2016-2019 ATS-V, CTS-V; 2016-2022 Camaro SS 1LE, Camaro ZL1; 2020-2022 CT4-V, CT5-V; and 2020-2022 Corvette with the Z51 Performance Package.

Fig. 1

As warmer temperatures return, the high-performance tires on these vehicles should be checked for wear, cracking and overall condition, especially if the tires were driven in colder temperatures or, if the tires were changed during the winter, not stored properly.

Cold Weather Operation

Driving with high-performance summer tires on snow, ice or cold road surfaces may cause loss of control, which is why it is recommended that winter tires be installed on vehicles that are frequently driven at temperatures below approximately 40°F (5°C) or on ice- or snow-covered roads.

TIP: GM models equipped with high-performance competition tires have a different cold weather operation threshold than summer tires. Competition tires should not be driven at temperatures below approximately 50°F (10°C).

In colder climates, the special tread and compound used in high-performance tires will have decreased performance. In some cases, the special rubber compounds may lose flexibility in colder temperatures below 20°F (−7°C) and surface cracks in the tire tread/shoulder area may develop. (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2

The surface cracks are cosmetic and will not result in a loss of air. However, they are damaging to the tire and cause a decrease in performance. Tires that have been used in cold climates and exhibit tread cracks (Fig. 3) should be discarded.

Fig. 3

Tire Storage

High-performance summer tires should always be stored indoors and at temperatures above 20°F (−7°C) when not in use. If the tires have been subjected to temperatures less than 20°F (−7°C), they should be warmed up in a heated space to at least 40°F (5°C) for 24 hours or more before being installed or before driving a vehicle on which they are installed. Do not apply heat or blow heated air directly on the tires.

For more information about high-performance tire use, refer to the latest version of Bulletin #13-03-10-001.

– Thanks to Robert Cross

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