When Is It Time to Change Winter Tires?

As the seasons change, so do your traction needs

Last updated: February 27, 2016 08:00 AM

Winter tires have a soft, pliable compound engineered to provide maximum grip on snowy and icy surfaces at freezing temperatures, but these specialized tires wear quickly and deliver longer stops on cleared roads compared to all-season tires. You should remove winter tires once winter is done in your area.

Of course, you cannot predict that last rogue snow storm, but consider removing winter tires when temperatures are consistently above 40° F. That’s particularly important if you're contemplating putting summer tires back on your car, which are not pliable in cold weather.

If you are driving on studded winter tires, the incentive to remove them might be dictated by state restrictions, as well as desire to minimize stud wear. Contact your local department of motor vehicles or AAA for guidance.   

Beware potholes

Frost-heaved roads damaged by this winter's nasty weather will guarantee a bounty of potholes this spring. So slow down and pay particular attention to road conditions during this seasonal transition.

Sometimes you can't avoid driving into a pothole, but if you have to go through one, drive straight into it to limit exposing the tire’s vulnerable sidewall. Try to reduce speed before striking the pothole.

Check your tires after a rough encounter with a pothole. If you observe sidewall cuts or bulges, or spot other damage, have the tire serviced. While at the shop, get the wheels and suspension looked at, as well.

For optimum tire performance and durability, routinely check and maintain proper inflation pressure. With temperatures changing, you'll need to adjust tire pressure.

Gene Petersen

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