What Temperature Is Too Warm for Winter Tires?

Summer or all-season tires are great when the temperature gets hot outside or when you drive on wet roads. However, they don’t offer any benefit when winter rolls around, so you switch to snow tires instead. The problem is, winter tires are only good in colder weather. It’s tempting to keep them on all year round, but it’s not a good idea. Here’s the lowdown on snow tires and the proper maintenance techniques of when to use or not use them. 

When winter tires are effective 

A pair of winter tires outside of an automotive garage shop
A pair of winter tires | Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images

Winter tires are built for, as the name says, winter. They have a flexible tread that helps repel snow so it doesn’t get impacted in the crevices and makes the tire lose grip on the road. The rubber has also been developed to handle colder temperatures, so the tire can cling to the road’s surface and prevent slipping and sliding. 

The tread is noticeably deeper on snow tires than it is on all-season and summer ones. Some winter tires even come with special designs so drivers can gain more traction, despite the icy and snowy conditions of the road you’re traveling on. Winter tires can also enhance your all-wheel drivetrain, which performs best in the winter. 

According to Toyo Tires, it’s recommended to put snow tires on when the temperature outside reaches a consistent 44 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. When it starts to get above 44 degrees in the springtime, you need to remove them and put on tires that better handle the warmer weather. 

Can you leave snow tires on all year round?

With the hassle of unmounting and then remounting the tires, it can get old pretty fast. So, many people want to know if they can keep the tires on all year round because they don’t want to deal with it more than twice a year. While it sounds like a good idea to mount winter tires once and forget about them the rest of the time, it actually isn’t recommended. 

Snow tires are durable enough to handle harsh weather conditions, but only in cold temperatures. The tire’s flexibility is meant to grip the road in snow and ice, not in hot, summer weather. When the temperature rises, the rubber starts wearing out faster than it normally would. 

You also won’t get the same kind of ride that the tires give you in winter. They don’t handle quite the same on warm, dry pavement. Meanwhile, all-season and summer tires are built to handle all situations in the summer when temperatures are quite warm or even downright hot. 

What experts recommend for summer and winter tires

If you want snow tires on your vehicle but don’t like the idea of paying for unmounting and remounting twice a year, there’s a way to keep it simple and still enjoy the benefits of tires built specifically for winter conditions. 

Tire experts recommend buying a separate set of wheels that are the same diameter and have the same bolt pattern as your current ones. Mount the winter tires on the new wheels and store them away until winter comes and the temperatures start dropping. When spring rolls around again, you can have a technician switch the wheels out for the summer tires instead.

Additionally, you can consider all-season tires. They can be used in the winter without any issues, but you’re not going to get the same traction that snow tires offer. They don’t perform as well as winter tires when the temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit because they’re not as pliable, so driving on roads with snow or ice accumulating on them isn’t fun.

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