When should you take off your winter tires?
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With spring just around the corner, you might be wondering if that means you should be changing your winter tires anytime soon.
As this is a transitional period where wintry weather conditions and temperatures can persist well into April, it’s a good idea to find out when is most ideal.
Doug Annett, operations manager at Skid Control School Safe Roads Canada, told The Weather Network in April 2019 that when depends on temperatures and not a set day or week on the calendar.
THE MAGIC TEMPERATURE FOR CHANGING A TIRE
If temperatures rise to 7°C or higher and stay there permanently, you can take them off.
“Winter tires are designed in such a way that they offer better traction compared to all-season or summer tires from about 7 °C and below,” says Annett. “As long as it’s 7 degrees or less, leave your winter tires on.”
He’s quick to point out that this can be problematic, as temperatures can reach 10C to 12C during the day, but at night they can drop to zero or below at night.
“In the mornings and evenings when it’s in the cooler area, you need to put on your snow tires,” he adds C-Area.”
Due to the fluctuating temperatures in March, April and sometimes May, the “worst thing that can happen” is leaving the winter tires on for too long, says Annett.
For example, when temperatures reach 15°C to 20°C and you still have snow tires on, it’s tougher on the rubber.
“It’s a softer rubber compound that just wears out the rubber faster,” explains Annett.
“If you leave them on for a bit long, it’s not like it hurts your traction that much, [but] it wears out the rubber faster.”
SEE ALSO: Three things to watch out for when it comes to cold weather and tires
PULLING THEM TOO EARLY MAY BE RISKY
On the other hand, the worst thing about removing winter tires too early is the possibility of snowfall on the ground and/or dropping temperatures the day after the change.
“You just picked the wrong time and now you have the worst conditions with the wrong tires,” says Annett.
“Imagine a place like the East Coast, where the difference between three inches of rain and three feet of snow can be a few degrees. You have to be careful to put the winter tires on so that you can keep reliability above freezing and closer to 7C.”
If that doesn’t complicate things enough, another factor to consider when making the switch is your location, Annett adds.
For example, if you are in Edmonton, Alta. or in northern British Columbia, it is not uncommon for snow to continue into mid-May. This changes the “dynamics”.
“If you’re in Vancouver, BC, you’ve probably already got your snow tires off,” he says.
In communities on the east coast, in northern Ontario, or in Quebec that experience frequent heavy snowfalls, residents may choose a brand that might work well in the white clothing but might not perform as well in the rain.
“If you’ve decided to put on your snow tires a little longer because you’re concerned the weather might throw us another corner, be careful in wet weather,” Annett said.
TRANSPORT CANADA CHECKLIST
Transport Canada has a 10-point checklist that drivers can review to ensure the safety of their tires.
(Jaclyn Whittal/The Weather Network)
Check your tire pressure at least once a month with a good quality tire pressure gauge. Measure the pressure when the tires are cold. Don’t forget the replacement part.
Before inflating your tires, check the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. This information is usually found on the tire information label, which is usually located on the edge of the driver’s door, door jamb, glove box, or fuel filler flap.
You can also find this information in your user manual. Do not use the pressure indicated on the tire. It’s the maximum pressure, not necessarily the recommended one.
When inflating your tires, make sure the air pump tube valve and tire valves are clear of dirt and other obstructions. Make sure the tire valves have caps.
Always measure the tire pressure before going on a long journey.
Inspect tires monthly for uneven tread wear, cuts or tears, dents, debris, or other signs of wear or injury.
Change your tires regularly. Consult your owner’s manual for information on how – and how often – tires should be changed.
Buy the most suitable tires for your vehicle and driving needs.
When fitting new tires, always ensure that tires are of the same type, size, speed class and load index on all wheel positions.
Register your new tires with the manufacturer after purchase.
Do not overload your vehicle. The tire information label states the maximum recommended load.
Visit the Transport Canada website for more road and tire safety information.
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