We added some updated info to the requirements for winter tires in BC in our latest article on the subject, check it out right here.
Q: “It is starting to feel like winter, but it hasn’t snowed yet. When is the best time to put on my snow tires?”
The short A: As the weather starts to to turn you are right to be thinking about switching over to your winter tires. The short answer is that winter tires should be changed when the average daily temperature is below 7°c. You can check your local weather forecast for the weeks ahead and get a pretty good idea for when the temperature is right for the switch.
The long A: Many people refer to winter tires as “snow tires” and it is important to make a distinction here. Industry experts have shied away from calling winter tires “snow tires” because they only offer a minor benefit for traction on heavy ice and snow. They are usually referred to as “cold weather tires” because they grip so well in freezing temperatures. The 7°c guideline reflects the fact that your regular all-season tires begin to harden below that temperature, which reduces their grip, and by the time you get -10°c the tires are literally frozen and slide on the road like a hockey puck.
Winter tires, or cold weather tires, are made to be pliable and flexible below 7°, gripping the road in freezing temperatures and increasing braking reliability and control. These characteristics are reversed as the weather begins to improve. Consumer reports tested winter tires for braking distance in a variety of weather conditions and they found that when the temperature was above 7°c it took winter tires an extra 7 metres to stop on a dry track and over 9 metres to stop on a wet track when compared to all seasons. On top of their poor performance in warm weather, winter tires also wear out very quickly when driven in warm weather. The rubber is so soft to accommodate the cold weather that it wears away rapidly when driven in the heat.
TLDR?: Change to your winter tires when the temp drops below 7°c. Don’t drive on winter tires in the summer, they perform badly and wear out quickly.
Keep an eye on the forecast and give us a call when it is time to switch out your winter tires, we are happy to help.