When to Switch to Winter Tires
February 19, 2021
What you’ll learn;
- Cold temperatures, thumping tires, and insufficient tread on your summer or all-season tires indicate you should switch to winter tires.
- Switching to winter tires will extend your tires’ life and enhance safety traction features.
- Not switching to winter tires could lead to poor acceleration, stiff and cracked tires, longer stopping times, and dangerous accidents.
When To Put On Winter Tires
When winter approaches, you’ll probably do a lot of things to prepare. You’ll pull the winter clothes out of storage and make sure they’re clean. You’ll prepare the yard, so branches don’t break in heavy snowfall. You might have your HVAC system serviced and might also stock up on firewood. Have you thought about your car and what you need to do to prepare it for winter? In addition to ensuring the heater works correctly, you need to switch your vehicle’s summer tires for winter tires.
When Should You Make the Switch?
You shouldn’t wait until the first snowfall to make the switch to winter tires, although that is when most people seem to remember to get it done. Instead, you should watch for the following signs to tell you it’s time:
- Colder Temperatures – If winter’s approaching and you feel it’s cold enough to wear a coat and gloves when you go out, then it’s cold enough to switch your tires. Your other tires will become inflexible and stiff when the temperatures drop, but winter tires contain rubber that is designed to stay flexible, even in those same lower temperatures. An easy rule of thumb to follow is if the temperatures are consistently 40 degrees or below, it’s time to switch.
- Thumping Tires – When your car sits on the hard pavement overnight in cold temperatures, flat spots begin to form. As you begin to drive, these stiff, flat spots will create a thumping sound. They’ll begin to warm up and become flexible again after five miles or so, but you won’t feel that same elasticity as before. This could also make your tire pressure read low, which would send you to the gas station to fill up the air, even though you didn’t need to.
- Insufficient Tread – Sufficient tread is an important part of safety when driving in snow and slush. If your tire tread is insufficient, it’s time to switch to winter tires. To know if your tread is too low, stick a penny between two tread ribs with Lincoln’s head facing down. Can you see any part of his head? It’s time to make the switch!
- Thanksgiving – If you’ve gotten to Thanksgiving and are still driving on summer tires, it’s definitely time to switch. You can keep the winter tires on until Tax Day, and that’s an easy time to remember to switch them back.
As you can see, most of these things are going to happen before the first snowfall. Snow tires aren’t just for snow, but they will get you ready for it. Of course, if the first snowfall has hit and you still haven’t switched to winter tires, it’s time to get it done now.
What Are the Benefits of Switching Tires?
When you switch your all-season or summer tires to winter tires, you’re doing more than just improving your ride. Some benefits include:
- Longer Tire Life – Your winter tires can be used during more than just one winter. Switching your set will extend the life of the all-season or summer tires you have stored in the garage during winter, as well as the winter tires during summer.
- Shorter Stopping Time – Winter tires give you that added traction needed to stop in a shorter period of time. When you slam on your brakes in the snow or sleet, summer tires might slide, but winter tires do better and can cut up to 30 feet off the distance it takes to come to a full stop.
- Adherence to the Law – In some areas, having winter tires is the law during winter. They may be required on certain roads or in certain counties, so it’s important you know that and get your tires changed out before you head into those areas.
- Enhanced Traction Features – All the features in your car that rely on traction are enhanced during the winter when you have the proper tires on your car. Antilock brakes, stability control systems, traction assist, all-wheel drive, and brakeforce distribution all work better in winter with winter tires.
- No Compromises – Winter tires are made solely for winter. You don’t have to worry about any compromises that make them efficient during other seasons as well. They are strictly for cold climates, wet roads, ice, and other wintry features.
- Savings – You typically have fewer complications with your car during winter when you don’t have to put the pedal to the metal to get the car to go. It’s easier to get going without wasting too much gas with winter tires. This saves gas, money, and the environment.
What Could Happen If You Don’t Switch to Winter Tires?
You’ve already learned your tires could “thump” when they’re cold, and you haven’t switched them out to winter tires yet. Are there any other disadvantages that come with not switching your all-season or summer tires for winter tires?
- Poor Acceleration – When you use summer or all-season tires during winter, you don’t have the same acceleration as you would if you switched to winter tires. Winter tires have the tread needed to speed up whether you’re in cold, slushy, or icy conditions. Accelerating more slowly could result in you being late for your commitments or in someone rear-ending you.
- Lengthened Stops – If you can’t stop in time, you could end up crashing into someone or something. With tires that aren’t specific to winter, it lengthens the stopping distance when you slam on the brakes. You could end up sliding into a busy intersection, hitting someone in a crosswalk, or hitting an animal or child that runs out into the street.
- Stiff Tires – It may seem like it’s not that big of a deal, but when tires are stiff, they don’t have much traction. Summer tires are made differently and will become stiff if the temperatures are low enough, which will lessen traction and increase the dangers of being on the road.
- Cracked Tires – In addition to stiff tires losing tread, they also start to crack and chip. Cracks and chips aren’t safe to drive on at all and could result in a blowout that risks everyone’s lives in the car. Surrounding drivers and pedestrians are also put at risk if your tire blows out and pieces of the tire fly through the air. A blowout could also lead to your car spinning out of control and hitting someone or something.
Contact Us To Get Your Tires Switched
There are a lot of things you might have to do to get your family and property ready for winter. At Paddock Imports of Denver, we are ready to help you get your BMW, Audi, Mercedes, or any other brand of car ready with the winter tires you need to stay safe on the road. Contact us today in Denver, CO, at 303-825-5700 to schedule your tire service or to learn more about the benefits of switching to winter tires.
Featured Image: Igor Link / Shutterstock