When is the right time to install my winter tires?

If you live in Canada or the Northern United States, you the answer to this question can vary significantly. We came up with a few ideas to help you figure out when best to install your set of winter tires to keep you safe as you drive this year.

A snow tire, or winter tire, whatever you would like to call that will have the double peak mountain that surrounds a snowflake. The test that was created in 1999 was to ensure that the tires that received this emblem have passed specific testing for severe cold weather performance.

To learn more about this test, take a look at The Tire and Rubber Association of Canadas article.

Winter tires are created with special tread compounds that remain flexible at very cold temperatures. They also contain much more siping than a regular all season tire. This siping allows the tire to flex while supplying many channels for water to be expelled out the side of the tire.

Siping also provides many more “biting” edges for the tire to grip to the surface. This affect helps the tires performance on slippery surfaces.

What is the 7°C rule?

This is by far the easiest guideline to follow. Simply put when the temperature reaches 7°C or 50°F it is time to get your winter tires installed. All season tread compounds begin to harden once the temperature drops below this point.

This doesn’t mean your tires will no longer grip the road and you will end up in the ditch, it simply means your tires performance begin to degrade at this point. For example, the Government of Quebec completed testing on snow tires.

They found that winter tires improve vehicle braking performance by up to 25% when they are compared to all season tires. No wonder it is law in Quebec now to install winter tires between Dec. 15th and Mar. 15th. They believe in them so much that there is a fine up to $1000 if you do not have them equipped on your vehicle.

Insurance companies are now beginning to understand the importance of snow tires as well. If your vehicle is equipped with four properly installed snow tires your insurance provider may provide you with a discount.

I don’t know about you, but when my insurance company offers a discount, I am going to take it.

Will my tires melt if installed too early?

Thankfully if you are an early bird when installing your snow tires, no, your tires will not melt. The tread compound is designed for low temperatures but will function properly if there is the odd warm day when your vehicle has had the snow tires installed.

Reduced tread life may be possible if you drive too far on a warm sunny day with high outside temperatures. So please remember to remove your snow tires in the spring when the average temperature rises above 7°C.

This 7°C rule is coming in handy now isn’t it, not only can we use it to let us know when to install our winter tires we can use it to help remind us of when to take them back off.

How long do snow tires last?

This depends on driving habits, but will last from 50,000-80,000km depending on driving habits.
There are many things that can increase or decrease the life span of your snow tires.

Your driving habits have the biggest effect on snow tire life. If you accelerate or brake hard you will begin to wear the tread in a much faster manner, then if you would accelerate slowly. Remember its winter, you should be slowing down much sooner than you would in the summer anyhow.

I have also seen a large amount of snow tires fall victim to incorrect storage. You need to ensure that when you store your winter tires they are stored indoors, and in the correct tire bag.

If tires are stored outside it can cause UV damage to the tire itself, leading to a shortened lifespan. If stored indoors without bags, fallout from various items within your home can also degrade the rubber quality which will shorten the lifespan as well.

So always remember, indoors and in the bag.

Can I install two Snow Tires?

No. Sorry for the short answer but this idea of installing only two snow tires on the drive tires of the vehicle never should have existed.

If you install two snow tires on the front of the vehicle to provide you with better traction, think about what happens to the rear tires. When going through a corner, your front tires have excellent grip. Your rear tires however do not, this results in the rear of the vehicle braking loose possibly causing you to lose control.

Installing two snow tires on the rear have a different effect. You will have minimal steering control when entering the corner, which again will possibly lead you to a loosing control while driving.

Please take it from an expert, if you ever have someone suggest just installing two snow tires on your vehicle. Go somewhere else, this expert is only looking to make a sale.

Any self-respecting tire professional will ensure your safety by only recommending four snow tires for your vehicle.

Insider Tips from a Tire Professional

Call early. The winter tire installation season is the busiest season in the automotive industry in locations that have snow. Not only are tire shops busy but general repair shops are busy with tires as well. Better to call early and book an appointment than have to wait three weeks to get your tires installed.

Check your tire pressures often. Winter generally results in large temperature swings; it is not unheard of to have days vary by 20 degrees or more. If there is a decrease in temperature in will cause your tire pressures to decrease by 1 psi.

So, if your tires were already low, you may find yourself driving in an unsafe condition.

Tires are an integral portion in the safety of your vehicle. This is especially important when the weather starts to turn cold. Ensure you have the safest vehicle in the winter season by ensuring you have safe winter tires on your vehicle.

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
Our team of staff writers goes above and beyond in creating material that our readers love. They bring unique skills to the team that always provides a fresh perspective on the automotive industry.

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