Video tutorial on why your winter tires should be removed too late or installed too early on your vehicle. Here I have a full set of winter tires for my 1997 BMW 540i as this car is driven all year around. I do live in Canada, so we do experience a decent amount of snow up to 5 months. This tends to depend on the year, some years we’ve had over a couple feet and others only a few inches. During the summer I have summer wheels and a performance rated tire which isn’t ideal for the winter months. Winter tires will help increase my traction and road performance during icy and snowy conditions. Therefore they help maintain the safety of my occupants and me. Some insurance companies even offer a discount if you have winter tires as well.
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The tires I use in the winter is a set of four 16” Bridgestone Blizzak Studless model WS50. So taking this particular brand for example, Bridgestone uses a multicell compound of their Blizzak winter tires which improves traction in icy conditions. This multicell is a layer of rubber which contains air bubbles which helps remove surface water and particles to increase grip. For these particular tires, the multicell layer accounts for 55% of the treads depth and the remaining 45% is the typical winter rubber compound.
A winter tire has a softer compound which allows it to maintain traction and grip in a colder climate. If those tires are used in a warmer environment, they of course will still work but it will greatly deteriorate their tread depth. Winter tires are best used in snow or wet pavement as this reduced friction on the rubber compound which ensures they will reach their recommended mileage rating. Bridgestone does not recommend reinstalling their Blizzak tires once they’ve worn past that 55% multicell layer as there will be a reducing in traction. Therefore their intended lifespan is 19,000 km or 12,000 miles to 26,000 km or 16,000 miles.
Summer tires are normally expected to last much longer but this will depend on the rubber composition, for my BFGoodrich G-Force tires their tread warranty is 72,000 km or 45,000 miles. If these summer tires were to be used during the winter, their rubber compound would become hard so the traction and grip would be compromised.
Think of it as a chocolate bar. If the chocolate bar was kept out in the sun on a warmer day, it would become extremely soft and the chocolate would stay on your fingers if you were to touch it. So this would be an example of your winter tires being used in a warmer climate.
If you were to stick that chocolate bar in the freezer and after a period of time you would try to eat it, it would be quiet firm or too hard to eat. This would be an example of your summer tires being used in the winter.
Winter tires are intended for temperatures below 7C or 45F and summer tires are intended for temperature above 7C or 45F. So technically speaking, this is the temperature of when you should change your tires. You may need to alter these values a little depending on what type of tires you are using, some tires manufacturers may have different temperature operation ratings.
Keep in mind black ice can form on roads above freezing temperature, so while there maybe no snow accumulation, slippery roads can still exist with the right circumstances. Should you wait for the first snow fall to install your winter tires, the answer is no.