Category Archives: winter tires

3 Questions You Should Ask Before You Swap Your Snow Tires

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mechanic removing snow tires from a carWhen to change your winter tires to summer tires is not always a question with a clear answer—especially with our unpredictable Wisconsin weather!  But it’s a question that needs to be answered, especially when you’ve invested so much of your time and money into your snow tires.  Here’s what you should ask yourself before you remove your snow tires, and why.

Is it going to snow again?

Your put snow tires on your car for a reason—to get you through the snow safely—so wait until the weather forecast does not include any chance of snow any time soon.  We’re not going to lie to you: that’s not always easy to do, especially when we get an occasional snow surprise in March or April (sometimes May!). Try not to take off your snow tires too soon. You don’t want to get stuck in a spring snow storm on all-season tires when you bought a set of snow tires for safety and increased traction.

What is the temperature?

When the temperatures start hitting the upper 40’s or low 50’s on a regular basis (note the regular part, we know we get occasional spring weather in February and March), it’s time to take those snow tires off (and not a moment too soon).

Snow tires are made of a soft rubber compound that can wear heavily when the road temperature gets too warm. With this in mind, make sure you remove or make an appointment to have your snow tires removed before the roads dry out and the temperatures heat up. If you wait until summer to take your snow tires off, your snow tires are going to be too worn to use again next winter.

How much of a pain is it to get them off (and on)?

If it’s easier to take your snow tires off and on, your decision to remove your snow tires is simpler than a car owner who has to break the bead, mount, and remount their snow tires every time.  If you want to make swapping your snow tires and all-season tires easier, consider purchasing a second set of rims specifically for your snow or all-season tires.  Make sure you purchase rims that are the right size for your car or truck, or ask your mechanic to find a set of right-sized rims. Your mechanic can mount your snow tires (or regular tires) to your second set of rims so you don’t have to go through the hassle of breaking the bead, removing and remounting tires every fall and spring.  While the cost of a second set of rims is one more expense, it can save the cost of a tire because you don’t have to worry about damaging your snow tires or all-season tires during the removal and mounting process.

Do I need new tires for winter?

winter road that car needs new tires forThe Farmer’s Almanac predicted a cold and snowy winter. Whether you believe the prediction or not, it pays to start preparing now for all that comes with winter: icy sidewalks, cold winds, winter driving.  Just as you prepare your home for winter, fall is the ideal time to get your car ready too—especially your tires.

Tires are your primary defense during winter driving. Your tire’s tread and compound can make the difference between a winter accident and safe drive home. So how do you know when you need new tires for winter?  How can you tell when it’s time to put on new snow or all-season tires? (Find out the difference in our recent blog post.)

Tire Hardness

Though we often think of tires in need of replacement, the sign is not always so obvious.  Even with minimal mileage, tires can harden over time, reducing your traction. If you want to find out if your tires are hard, ask your mechanic at your next oil change to check your tires.

Leaks

Tires with a chronic leak are not always a lost cause. Sometimes tires with punctures can be fixed by a mechanic, but other times the problem can stem from a tire that is not sealing properly or other issue.  If you feel like you’re always adding air to your tire or you have a constant flat, schedule an appointment to get your tires inspected and fixed so you’re not stranded with a flat in subzero weather.

No (or very little) tire tread

Use the old coin trick to check the tread of each tire. Place a penny in the tread of your tire because tires can wear differently, leaving some tires with uneven tread depth (which is why a regular tire rotation is important). If you can completely see Abraham Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.

Cracking & blistering

If you have cracks or blisters on the sidewall of your tire, you need to get your tires checked as soon as possible. Excessive cracking or blisters are tire injuries that can lead to a blow out, leaving you stranded by the side of the road in a winter storm.

Tread wear indicator bars

When you first buy new tires, you can’t see tread wear indicator bars. As the tread of your tire starts to wear, inevitably you start to notice bars in the bottom of the groove around your tire. As the name implies, tread wear indicator bars are a clear sign you need to get your tires to your mechanic to see if you need new tires before winter.

If you can’t tell if your tires need to be replaced before winter (they don’t always), or you’re looking for new tires, contact Tire-rifik or schedule an appointment to get your tires checked.  A few minutes of preparation can save you time and funds once the snow arrives.

Snow Tires Versus All-Season Tires: do you need snow tires?

wintry road in the middle of snow stormAs much as we Wisconsinites like to live in denial, it’s time to prepare for the inevitable snow that’s sure to blanket our roads and lead to some, well, interesting winter driving.  It’s also an excellent time to buy tires to get through all the snow and ice that our Wisconsin winter is sure to throw at us (plus some).  Many of the top tire manufacturers are offering rebates that make that new set of tires for your car or truck not just a must, but also incredibly affordable when you add in the rebates and offers on the market.

Before you sign on the dotted line, though, you need to understand what you’re buying—and mounting—on your car.  We know a thing or two (or three or hundred) about tires, and here’s our breakdown of the common snow tires versus all-season tires question—and a few other things you need to know (anything else, just ask us).

Snow tires versus all-season tires

Snow tires are specifically designed for traction and handling through all the snow that comes with winter driving. Constructed with a softer compound and tread pattern designed specifically for getting through snow and ice, snow tires can find traction on even the roughest roads.

Remember as you shop for snow tires that traction control, common on many vehicles, is not a replacement for snow tires; traction control adjusts the speed of your tires to conditions, but does not give your vehicle more traction while driving.

All-season tires are exactly what they say: tires construction for any weather condition and temperature. They give you a good all-around tire for general driving conditions, but are not specially designed for winter driving.

What to look for in your next set of tires

Purchasing the right set of tires for your car or truck is based on three key factors: 1) tire size 2) your expectations for your next set of tires and 3) driving style.

It’s easy to find the size of the tire you need. Tire sizes are found on your current tire on your car, in your user manual and often on the inside of the driver-side door. (There are cars that can take more than one truck size-check your user manual.) Look for a letter and a series of numbers, such as P255/55R17.

The P in the tire size indicates that the tire is intended for passenger cars. You may also see the letters LT, which is for a light truck. The first numbers are the width, in millimeters, between the two sidewalls. The series of numbers, in this example 55, is the aspect ratio.  The number is a percentage, and the higher the percentage, the larger the sidewall of the tire. The last number, 17 in this case, is the diameter of wheel that the tire fits on.

Once you’ve determined the size you need, do your research (or ask your mechanic who knows your vehicle and can recommend tires) when buying tires, and be honest with yourself about your driving style. If you need cars for a muscle car you drive hard, tires with a higher speed rating and increased handling fit the bill. For daily driving, you probably don’t need tires with a higher speed rating, but you should look for tires that can provide handling, a quiet and smooth ride, and adequate tire tread wear.

Another strategy for choosing the right tires is to stick with what works. If you are happy with the performance of the current tires on your vehicle, replace your old tires with the same tires that you had before.

Snow tires

If you have to venture out in the worst winter conditions, select a set of tires with a proven record on winter roads. Beyond size, choose a set of snow tires with improved handling and traction; again the exact set is going to depend on your driving style.  A set of snow tires for a truck that has to head out onto the farm is going to have different tread pattern and depth than a set that can get you to your job on the highways.

Snow tires should be mounted when the temperature dips below 40 on a regular basis and removed when the temperatures start hitting the upper 40’s or low 50’s. Be careful not to remove tires too soon; you don’t want to get stuck in a spring snow storm on all-season tires when you bought a set of snow tires for safety and increased traction.

Snow tires can be mounted on your current set of rims and you all-season tires dismounted (schedule an appointment here) or you can purchase a second set of rims specifically for your snow tires. With a second set of rims, you don’t have to go through the hassle of being without a vehicle while your mechanic remounts tires.

The cost of your snow tires depends on the size of tires and what you want in a set of tires; you can find out the cost of snow tires, contact us to find out your snow tire options and cost—before the snow hits.