Summer is in the air and it’s here to stay! Trade your long johns for swim trunks, Sorels for Crocs, and always remember to swap your tires. One set of tires may have worked for the Model T, but the weight and speed of modern vehicles is best suited to seasonal tire changes. Using the proper tire can provide better fuel efficiency, safety and performance as you cruise into the new season. Here’s how seasonal tire changes can benefit you.
Why Use Two Sets of Tires?
When it comes to Albertan winters, you should be using the right tool for the job. Here, your vehicle faces extreme temperature swings and precarious road condition throughout the year. Winter tires offer softer rubber, providing better road grip and stopping power in cold conditions. A larger surface area with more sipes (the canals in tire treads) plows snow from underneath your tires and improves contact with the road.
However, winter tires wear at an increased rate when spring temperatures hit. Hot weather adds a greater risk of puncture and blowouts, equating to expensive repairs, potential damage to your wheels and rims, and shorter tire life. Winter tires provide limited road contact during spring, resulting in increased hydroplaning risk on wet, warm roads. Nobody likes blown tires or scary driving, so a little due diligence goes a long way.
Let’s not forget about fuel economy! Summer tires nearly pay for themselves by offering a firmer and more narrow tread. At proper operating temperature, summers also provide better cornering, speed and braking. A summer tread with fewer sipes effectively wicks moisture away from road contact points, so you can feel safe driving home on rainy days.
What Tires Am I Using?
Winter tires are identified by a snowflake and mountain symbol on the sidewall of your tire. Winter markings indicate that your tires are made of a soft rubber content, providing improved handling in conditions far into the winter cold. You may also see steel in the tread if your car has studded winter tires.
Dealers typically provide all-season tires (also known as mud and snow), denoted by an “M+S” marking on the sidewall. Even if tires are marketed as All-Terrain, they are not suitable for winter driving unless they display winter tire markings.
Tire manufacturers now offer all-weather options (aka three-season) which offer fair performance in both winter conditions and summer driving. All-weather tires offer the most cost-effective solution, but be prepared to sacrifice performance compared to the summer/winter combination. All-weathers can do everything, but aren’t great at anything. For optimal performance, choose seasonal tires.
When Should I Change?
Before you start thinking about patios, think about changing your tires. Winter tires are optimal below 7℃, and remain effective until -40℃. If you’re expecting an Edmonton April to be anywhere on the spectrum, it’s best to keep your winters bolted on to stay safe until warm weather hits for good.
A summer tire should have at least 3 mm of tread, and 4 mm on a winter tire. Each season, put on your coveralls and crawl under to carefully check for cracks or bulges on your tire walls. Always ensure your tread is above the wear bar embedded in the tread. If you’re still not sure, you can always ask a professional at Kentwood Ford’s Go Auto Tire Center.
Protect your family, car, and wallet by choosing the right tire for the season. If you need a new set for this summer’s lake weekends, please reach out to Kentwood Ford’s service department for a huge selection offered by friendly staff. Happy summer driving!