Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

In winter, how do car dealerships deal with sports cars that come with summer tires from the factory

Take for example: the newly released Scion FR-S and Subaru BR-Z sports cars, both come with summer tires from the factory. How do dealerships deal with selling these type of cars in the winter? What if it’s December and it’s 20 degrees out? Do you disallow test drives altogether? Do you fit all-season tires?

What if a customer buys the car? Do you inform the customer that the car comes summer tires and mount all-seasons for him instead?

This should be the customer’s responsibility, but we do live in a litigious society and a good lawyer can argue anything.

How do dealerships handle this?

As a dealership, I would argue that…There is no pretence about these cars being winter drivers. Don’t use them that way and drive only on bare ground. Buyer beware.

It really doesn’t take much more then a look at the tread before you buy. If pushed into making a sale, many would switch them out to more capable tires but at the requirement that you change them back to performance tires at your expense if you want the best handling bare road performance. Even if they do it right in your opinion, the car won’t perform as expected as a road car. Isn’t that why you bought the car to begin with ?
Even with winter tires and better all seasons they will have marginal winter traction with the low clearance.

It’s your responsibility and yours alone to realize that all season tires will be less then ideal in the winter and not give you the road performance that the tires that came with the car.

I would argue too that, buying an SUV in the summer with all terrain tires and expecting it to handle like a BR-Z is just as much the buyer responsibility. They are each specialized cars each sold with specialized tires…

Dealers sell the cars with the tires as equipped from the factory. It is up to the buyer of the car to deal with “winter” driving.

I don’t think too many shoppers are looking for test drives during a snow storm. Once the storm clears and the plows are done clearing the roads you can test drive a car. It might need a wash after a test drive so a dealer might not allow a test drive on a particular day and tell the buyer to come back tomorrow for that test drive.

Most of the cars you describe are sold in Florida or in the Southwest. Very few of them ever see anything above Latitude 40…The ones you do see up North, they are kept garaged in the winter, their summer tires warm and cozy…

At the dealerships I worked at, as long as there was no snow on the road, you could test drive a summer-tire shod car. Hell, my daily driver has summer tires on it year around, and I’ve driven it through 3-4 inches of snow before without incident.

If you have a high-performance car designed for high track performance, with low clearance, and it comes with summer tires, that should tell you something.

Most winter days aren’t bad driving days. Most small ice patches are just as bad for snow tires as for regular ones.

In my experience, winter tires excell on ice compared to either summer of all season tires. The rubber compound is softer or set up for studs and road test have shown they give significantly better traction on ice patches. I personally don’t believe they are just as bad. Our cars have them mounted all winter on our dirt road " because and not in spite of " the ice.

"Most small ice patches are just as bad for snow tires as for regular ones. "

That is undoubtedly true for old-technology snow tires, but it is absolutely not true in regard to modern winter tires. Trust me–if you had the opportunity to drive a car shod with 4 Michelin X-Ice tires, you would have a totally different opinion.

Dealerships handle it by recommending that the customer buy winter tires…from them, of course.

Many years ago in the days of bias ply tires whenever I purchased a new vehicle, after we’d agreed on a price I used to get the dealer to throw in snow tires at their cost on free spare rims. They used to do so willingly to make the sale. I haven’t been able to get them to do this for a very long time. Times change.

No different than buying a motorcycle during winter months. Heck, most places won’t even let you ride it before buying during winter/spring where the snow flies. Regarding fair weather sports cars, if I owned the place you’d be waiting to buy if you required a test drive and then it’s your’s to do with as you please. Absent common sense, most cars today can at least make it home if you’re not a complete idiot.

Good point(s) Twin. Though you can make up studded (spiked) snows for motorcycles, it isn’t a common off the “Rack” item.

Another version of the winter tire thing is like a salesman told me when I was trying to get a set of snow tires threw in the deal(" Get you a set of snow tires") should have told him to keep his vehicle,guess I must have been too eager to own the vehicle,Good vehicle,but I got a really lousey deal-Kevin

They don't.  Generally all cars are sold with standard (summer) tyres, but this may vary from one area of the world to another.  If you bought the car in winter would you expect them to give you a free set of summer tyres?

Frankly I don't recall ever seeing "summer" tyres.  I see all season and winter tyres.  An extra set of tyres is something you might be able to bargain for a set.

BTW I like kmccume's suggestion.

As a former dealership salesperson, customers interested in performance oriented cars do not typically come in during inclement weather, only people interested in 4wd or SUVs ( please note the difference from cold). As a responsible salesperson I would always accompany the customer on a test drive and make sure that safety was of utmost importance. Tires were never swapped because of warranty issues. Our vehicles were registered and documented at the manufacturer’s factory with the make and model of tire, so that if a warranty issue pertaining to the tire ever developed it could be determined and handled efficiently. Conversely, aftermarket sales and/or “due in deal” agreements of tires and wheels were handled separately, again to protect all parties and maintain warranty effectiveness