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When Should I Actually Put on Snow Tires? Conquering Winter Worries


Most drivers assume that there is no reason to make the transition to snow tires until after the first few flakes of winter have fallen.  However, this decision is a huge mistake where your tires and safety on the road are concerned.  Like the majority of things in life, advanced planning is always the key to prolonged success.  There are all types of winter tires that people use to protect themselves on the road today.  The varieties include ice tires and generalized, winter-performance tires as well.  Despite the type of winter tires with which you arm your vehicle, they should always be put in place as soon as the temperatures begin to fall.  It does not matter whether snow has made its first appearance.

Tires and Temperature

The primary reason for getting ahead of the wintery game is that these tires are made from specially-formulated rubbers that allow them to maintain traction in all types of cold conditions.  Clear and dry roads in the winter still present traction problems to normal tires due to the rubber compound and the type of tread that they employ.  As a rule of thumb, drivers can count on making the switch from their all-season tire to winter tires as soon as the temperature regularly falls below 45-degrees Fahrenheit.  At this temperature, normal tires begin to harden because the colder environment causes the rubber to contract.  These tires will begin to lose plasticity and function more like plastic donuts rather than as flexible tires.

Cold Weather Risks

There are several dangers that occur as a tire begins to harden during cold weather.  The first of the dangers involves the tread.  It begins to wear much faster as the tread hardens and loses its flexibility in relation to the pavement.  The loss of flexibility also impacts the sidewalls of tires tremendously.  This factor decreases the tires ability to give when hitting hard surfaces and packed snow, causing the car to have erratic behavior on snowy and wintery terrain.  Not all drivers are making the switch from all-weather tires to snow tires as well.  Many people living in areas where there are dramatic shifts in temperature will be changing over from summer tires.  These types of tires are designed to stand extreme heat, requiring that drivers make the change even sooner.  People operating their vehicle with summer tires throughout the remainder of the year should make the change when temperatures regularly drop below 50-degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Plan Ahead

The best strategy for drivers is to make an annual date on their calender to make the switch.  It is unlikely that anyone will be glued to their thermometer when the time comes to change the tires.  You can save yourself the trouble of constantly checking the weather and ensure the safety of your passengers by setting this annual reminder according to the climate in your area.  Technically, drivers can leave winter tires on their car all throughout the year.  However, this strategy is not recommended.  Because the rubber and tread are specifically designed to increase tread during snowy an icy condition, they wear down much faster when driven on hot asphalt and other types of road conditions.  Drivers worried about the expense of the switch can explore a variety of options that include a refinance car loan to locate the extra income.  The extra bit of money can equal big benefits in safety.

Design Differences

Winter tires rely on a variety of designs and compositional factors in order to keep you safer during the winter.  Their grip is what allows safety features such as all-wheel drive and anti-lock breaking to remain in place during the winter.  Additionally, many of the designs have added components that allow them to perform better than conventional tires during the winter.  One such tire comes in a studded form.  All of these characteristics can be given the longest possible life when used only during the right time of year.  Drivers should also be aware that snow tires should be installed for all four wheels regardless of the type of vehicle.  Two-wheel drive vehicles that only have winter tires on the front or back end run the risk of experiencing spin outs or other types of dangerous accidents due to the difference in traction.