Time to Make the Switch! When to Replace Tires for Winter Driving

  • Dec 30, 2021
image of winter tire in ice image of winter tire in ice

Winter is just around the corner, which means it’s time to prioritize your tires! But when is the best time to switch, and how do you choose the right type for your ride? Learn when to replace your tires for winter driving and at what temperature to make the switch using this guide.

Why Replace Tires for Winter Driving?

If you’ve ever seen a car sliding helplessly along an icy road, then you know how important it is to have the right tires during winter. Summer tires are not designed for snowy conditions, and  all-season tires are able to offer some performance in cold, snowy weather. But if you’re one of the millions of people who live in an area with heavy winter conditions, winter tires are a must.

Winter tires are often made with special, deep tread patterns and siping, which provide significantly more grip in ice and snow compared to other tire types. This, combined with a special rubber compound that remains more pliable in cold temperatures, can help you slow down, accelerate, and turn much more safely.

Can I Get Just Two Winter Tires Installed? 

It's tempting to save money by installing only two winter tires. But without a complete set, you can lose a significant amount of grip and steering control on the road. This won't just affect you; it can also put your passengers and other motorists at serious risk too.

What Temperature to Change to Winter Tires

So when should you change to winter tires? The general rule of thumb is around 45°F (7°C). The rubber compound on most regular tires begins to harden at this temperature and no longer grips the road as effectively. 

Note: You want to avoid putting snow tires on too early in the season as they tend to wear out quickly on clear, dry roads. By replacing your winter tires for slush, sleet, and snow, you can help prevent premature tread wear. 

Which Winter Tires Should You Choose?

So you’ve determined that winter tires are probably a good idea for your vehicle. But with so many options out there, which should you choose? On one hand, you have all-season tires with an “M+S'' rating (M + S stands for mud and snow). But these do not offer as good performance in  harsh, wintry conditions. 

On the other end of the spectrum are full winter tires, which may be your best option. At the very least, look for tires with the symbol of a three-peak mountain with a snowflake inside, as these tires are designed to perform well in mild to severe snow conditions. To help you decide which type of tire might be best for you, here are some recommendations to consider:

Best for Trucks: Firestone Winterforce LT

Believe it or not, even heavy-duty trucks and SUVs need winter tires. The Firestone Winterforce LT is a light truck tire ideal for pickup trucks that regularly drive through snow and ice. The Winterforce LT’s directional winter tread pattern delivers control and safety in winter conditions while maximizing performance in both wet and dry conditions. 

Add in the tire’s high-sipe density for added traction and its three-peak mountain with a snowflake icon on the sidewall, and you can rest assured your truck will be ready for winter.

Best All-Around Winter Tires: Bridgestone Blizzak

If you want an all-around great winter tire you can depend on across all types of winter weather, look no further than the Blizzak tires from Bridgestone. Blizzak tires offer enhanced flex, grip, and bite in snow, sleet, and slush thanks to its unique nano pro-tech rubber and zig-zagging 3D sipes. 

Plus, the tire’s high-tech multicell compound creates microscopic pores that cut through thin layers of water, helping to prevent hydroplaning and enhance grip on ice. In short, Blizzak tires will leave you prepared to handle whatever the season throws your way.

Best for Year-Round Convenience: Firestone WeatherGrip

Since Firestone WeatherGrip tires aren’t strictly winter tires, they offer the convenience of being usable all year round. This all-weather tire combines the comfort and value of a touring tire with upgraded weather technology for next-level traction and control — rain, snow, or shine. If you don’t have to deal with extreme winter conditions and don’t want the hassle of having to switch tires each year, WeatherGrip tires might be exactly what you need.

Get Winter-Ready at Tires Plus

Get the right tires for the right season by scheduling winter tire replacement at your local Tires Plus. We've got the tires and the professional services you need to get back on the road!

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