I've only ever had cars with All-Season tires, but driven a few with winter tires on them. They truly are superior in winter. I live in Toronto, which is not a snow-belt, however I do drive up to our cottage, through a snow-belt area, quite frequently.
When I saw that the Cooper S 17" rims can be ordered with performance summer tires, I figured this is my oppurtunity to get a set of 15" steel rims and get winter tires.
I realize that winter tires will wear more quickly on the frequently salted, and usually dry roads in Toronto's winter, but those tires will be more affordable than 17" runflats anyways.
My problem is that I like to drive 2,500 km south to visit family in Texas during the winter. I would guess that from about Tennessee south, that the roads would be dry, hot summer conditions. Texas is definately hot. So after a round trip and all, wouldn't the 2,000 km of hot, dry pavement trash a brand-new set of winter tires?
I don't think it would even be an option to depart on the Summer tires for safety reasons, any snow or ice would be very, very bad.
I guess I'm looking for tire advice here. I like the idea of winter and summer tires, but my driving needs may not allow for it.
I am also a little weary of a low-profile All-Season 17" tire that wide. How good can it be in snow?
You have a choice. Either risk the bad weather but longer tyre life by swopping to the Summer tyres, or a shortened winter tyre life and a safer journey.
What do you value more, your pocket or your safety?
If you drive mostly on motorways then tyre wear will not be that great. Also the winter tyres will be fine until the temp exceeds about 50F/10c. Not all of your journey will be at warmer temperatures. Try and buy a performance winter tyre with a higher speed rating such as H rated MIchelin Pilot Alpins if you are worried about overheating the rubber. Winter tyres do not wear so well in summer temperatures, but the MINI shouldn't be a car that is heavy on tyres.
You have at minimum the same to at times worse weather that I do here in Iowa. This winter being the exception. I also was looking at the all season vs performance. I had to look at how many days are actually that bad that the streets dept would not have the snow moved. I decided that those days were very few and I would not want to be out in it anyway. So I figure why buy another set of rims and tires for 10? days a year. I think that with just a little planning you could shoot south and not even see snow until you hit Texas. I think they had more than us this season.
I think I'll win a bid to buy a dedicated set of MINI R-81 7-hole 15x5.5" wheels with mounted Pirelli Winter 210s -- tires I've used before and thoroughly enjoyed for their grip and effectiveness in the wet snow we have here.
The concept of using a wheel/tire package dedicated to the use (street, track, summer, or winter) gives much better performance, in those dedicated conditions.
There's lots of threads on snow tires in the tyres forum, if you're interested in options, check out those.
The real key is hidden in what noahe and jonewald said:
You get much better performance on dedicated tires for those conditions, and 15" snows are way cheaper then 17" runflats, so you're wearing out cheap tires and getting better performance at the same time. Not a bad deal.
Anyway, my brother was lazy one year and drove on blizzak ws-15's (50's? whatever) (Q rated tires) all summer because he was getting rid of the car in the fall. This was in NY, but I would think it wouldn't get much hotter in NY in the summer then TX in the winter. The tires wore rather quick, but they were pretty well fine. At US$50-60 for each winter tire, its not like they're really expensive in the scheme of things if they only last 1 year and you put 10-15 thousand Kms or more (depends on how much you drive) on them.
I wouldn't think you'd trash the tires, but you'd accelerate their wear. Since you'd only be driving south on a specific time, it seems simplier to just put your summer tires back on, and avoid snow on the trip. It shouldn't snow south of IL, which would be like 600km into the drive.
Unrelated: You do realize they have airplanes? You can fly from Toronto to TX pretty cheaply...