As the snow melts and the weather warms up, most drivers put their minds to improving their mileage and 'saving' the rubber on their winter tires. The tricky question becomes when is it really safe to do so?
Generally, snow tires should be mounted when the temperatures drop to below 6-8 degrees Celsius. At that point the softer rubber that winter tires are made of provides better traction on the road, snow and ice. Keeping winter tires on when the temperatures rise will cause serious wear to them and can result in their life span being significantly shortened. Those people who leave them on year-round will have to replace them quite often.
Tire manufacturers recommend that once the temperature in your area is reliably 7 degrees or above you should take them off and put on your summer tires. You will see better mileage immediately as summer tires have less tread and roll more efficiently on the road. Traditionally this period has been the end of March to mid April.
It used to be much easier to predict the ‘flow of the seasons, but the last decade has seen increasingly unpredictable weather patterns with ice and snow coming and going mixed with periods of 10-15’ Celsius days. Historically there have been very few Aprils that haven’t had snow in our part of Ontario, and in 2016 we had 21 cm of snow in April. Some years we have snow into May.
CAA recommends that people don’t change their tires before April 15 to be safe. We still get hard frosts at high that will make the roads icy, and snow and ice storms are still frequent. What seems to change is the response of the municipalities to the late storms. They may not accumulate enough snow to warrant plowing, but the snow and ice will still make the roads dangerous to drive on.
So for those of you looking at the temperatures in the coming weeks with highs above zero and lows just below zero be patient. Hold off on swapping up the tires for a bit longer and keep yourself safe on the ice and snow we still get a this time of year.