How and When You Should Change from Summer to Winter Tires
With the days getting shorter and colder, it is time to think less about beach days and summer nights and start preparing for winter weather conditions. If you live in a colder climate, winter tires are tremendously important in having a safe driving experience all winter long. But how do you know exactly when to switch over, and how do you go about doing so?
Designated with a snowflake symbol, winter tires are composed of special rubber compounds that have deep treads that grip unplowed snow, ice, and other inclement conditions, giving you more stable driving conditions. Winter tires vary from other weather appropriate tires like all-season tires, which, despite being geared towards mud and other terrain, may not be suitable in icy, heavy snow environments. Without grip, most of your car’s safety functions – like all-wheel drive and anti-lock will not work properly and make driving in the winter much more dangerous.
Snow tires are important for every car regardless of drivetrain, as both two and four wheel drive models can succumb to the difficulties of snow driving. Just because your car is two wheel drive doesn’t mean it won’t need grip on the set of tires that isn’t producing the power. If you have two-wheel drive, putting snow tires on all four wheels is still recommended. Only changing the front wheels of a front-wheel drive car can have adverse effects on driveability and may make the car more prone to spinouts or decreased steering abilities in a rear-wheel drive car.
As to when you should change your tires, there really is no exact time to do so. Where you live will likely be the largest factor here, as the intensity of the winter season varies greatly. Once you notice the weather starting to worsen, it may be a good time to make an appointment to have it done. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of an unexpected storm without the ability to get to where you need to go. Visits to the shop earlier in the season may decrease the amount of waiting on your end. Although you admittedly can keep winter tires on your wheels during all four seasons, it is advised not to do so, as it will diminish your MPG average and can lead to traction and handling issues as temperatures warm up.
Another reason to avoid using winter tires in other weather conditions is that they tend to wear out very quickly in warmer weather. Usually, winter tires can usually last 3 to 4 seasons without needing replacement when they’re being swapped out during the other seasons. If they are used year round, the heat begins to erode the compounds that make the winter tires weather resistant. They also can make the ride quality a bit more harsh and make cornering a bit more cumbersome. When spring comes around, it is wise to remove them as soon as possible to avoid damaging them.
How To Change Tires Efficiently
It is wise to buy winter tires with a separate set of rims. These do not have to be new or flashy rims, or match your current set, but should be the same size and have the same bolt pattern. This will save time when it comes to changing them, as they don’t have to be remounted each time. It is also beneficial in that it keeps your year-round rims looking pristine and protected from the winter elements. If they’re already on rims, changing them to winter tires is as basic as changing a tire. You can take them to any sort of tire shop or mechanic that has the ability to change or rotate tires.
While seemingly insignificant, changing into winter tires can prevent you from dangerous road conditions and can even save your life. A little hassle twice a year is well worth it to ensure that you and your loved ones get from point A to B in the safest way possible.
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