By Mark Shmelinski
Digital Lead and Former Service Advisor
As the weather changes from winter to spring and again from fall to winter, it’s a reminder to change over your seasonal tires as well.
I highly recommend using winter tires for our Canadian climate and so do the tire manufacturers. This isn’t an evil plot to sell more tires, because by using different tires for summer and winter you are doubling the length of time each set of tires will last. The reasons for changing back and forth are primarily better traction, which makes your vehicle safer to drive. Meaning you are no longer “that guy” spinning tires at every light. Tire companies recommend switching tire types when temperatures are about 10 degrees Celsius. While you can use summer tires below that temperature and winter tires above that temperature, you will gain the most benefit by switching when temperatures average around 10 degrees.
Using a second set of wheels for your other tires is recommended. The initial purchase price of the wheels is quickly offset by the cost of swapping tires on one set of wheels and rebalancing them. It is also way quicker and more convenient to swap tires when they are already mounted on wheels. A repair shop may be able to fit you in for a few minutes to swap wheels but it may take a couple days wait before they could book you in to remount tires on wheels.
Whether you swap tires yourself (like my dad who enjoys this type of punishment) or have a shop do this for you (like I do), it is a great time to do a general safety inspection of the vehicle. With wheels removed, it is easy to see brake lining thickness, oil leaks from struts and shocks, and low-hanging exhaust systems. Of course, it is also a very good time to take a look at the wheels and tires you are using to see if there is any damage or they are worn to the point of needing replacement.
While you are swapping tires, take a look at the amount of tread remaining on the tire. Most tires will come new with about 11/32 to 12/32 of an inch tread depth. For traction in snow, a tire with 6/32 or more of tread depth works better. When a tire reaches 4/32 of an inch tread depth, it doesn’t have enough tread left to channel water away from the face of the tire on wet roads, so hydroplaning can occur. By keeping an eye on tread depths you can plan ahead to budget for new tires, so you aren’t left with a much larger bill than you expected.
Planning ahead can save you money on new tires. New winter tires are often introduced in late summer and this is a good time to go shopping. Looking for summer tires in the winter time can provide some good sales, too.