TIME TO PUT AWAY YOUR WINTER TIRES
The snow is gone and although it’s raining from time to time, the roads are far less treacherous as they were over the winter. So… do you still have your winter tires on your vehicle?
Now that the temperatures are steadily staying above freezing, you should be thinking about summer tires. Whether you change them out yourself or take them to your friendly, neighborhood shop, there are three key reasons you should have this done as soon as possible:
1. Winter tires are made for lower temperature ranges than all-season/summer tires. All kinds of tires begin their life with rubber compounds engineered for specific temperature ranges. In winter, summer tires will turn as hard as hockey pucks, but all-season tires don’t lose their grip until 45 degrees F or below. To counter that, winter tires are designed with treads that will remain flexible below freezing, but these treads do not remain consistent with pavement that’s dry and warm.
2. Winter tires will wear out much faster at 45 degrees F and above. As the sipes (thin slits along the rubber surface to provide traction) and treads of winter tires come into repeated contact with pavement that’s dry and warm, heat is created that will compress these rubber blocks. These sipes then close as they contact the pavement, and there is nothing to cool them back down. Too much heat is the worst enemy of any tire – especially a winter one.
3. You cannot brake as fast or avoid collisions as easily. Because winter tires are designed with more flexibility to dig in for traction in the snow, this makes them far less effective on dry, clear pavement. When compared to a decent all-season tire, a winter tire has two to three times as many tread blocks, and far more sipes.
As a final tip, make sure you look at how much tread is left on your tires when you switch them. For best traction, manufacturers advise a minimum tread depth of 6/32 inch. To compare, most all-season or summer tires come brand new with tread levels of 11/32 – 12/32 inch.
With that said, if your winter tires have worn beyond the minimum amount mentioned, now would be the time to begin saving for a new set, as there’s plenty of time before you’ll need them again!