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Q&A: How important is it to rotate tires?

A friend gets his snow tires installed at a local garage but he is not sure if the tires are properly rotated or not. How important is it to ensure that tires are installed on the correct side and are rotated front-to-back? – David

The big issue is wear. Rotating is the best way to ensure even wear so you don't have one or two tires in better shape than the others. Many tires today are unidirectional and should stay on the same side of the vehicle. Make sure they are rolling in the direction indicated in the sidewall and swap front to rear annually.

Winter tires

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We spend part of the winter in Florida. Could we drive with winter tires on the dry pavement for an extended term? – Chris

There is no reason you cannot do so. The only problem is premature wear and slightly longer braking distances. If most of that driving is on the highway, the wear will not be significant. That occurs mostly when turning the front wheels at lower speeds, including when the vehicle is sitting still and the tires are hot.

Fog lights

I wish I could turn off the headlights in bad snow squalls and use just the fog lights that sit lower and don't reflect as badly at night. Both my cars have fog lights connected to the headlight circuit. I live in an area with little traffic and nasty lake effect snow squalls. – Dave, Bayfield, Ont.

I hear you. The glare caused by lights that do not have a sharp cut-off on low beam can be troublesome. But running without headlights may be illegal under some situations and oncoming traffic would not have as much warning. The new generation of bi-xenon, self-leveling headlights do a much better job of preventing the scatter of light upwards. When it comes time to trade, look for this type of light.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at

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