The days are getting longer. The snow banks have disappeared and you’re tempted to put your snow shovel back in the garage for the season. But would that be tempting fate? Is that one last fierce winter storm just waiting for you to let down your guard… and prematurely swap out your trusty winter tires?
There’s lots of great guidance out there about when to make the changeover from your winter tires to your all-seasons or summer tires, and the general consensus from experts is the old “7 degree Celsius” guideline: make the switch when the average daily temperature looks to be staying above 7 degrees Celsius, in order to maintain the best traction, and preserve the life of your tread.
If only the weather was, well, predictable. It’s a fine balance. It’s a tricky gamble. And every year it’s a little bit different. Get the timing just right and you’re driving into the warmer weather maximizing your tires’ tread and feeling like a genius. Miss the magic window and you’re either wearing out your precious winter rubber on squishy-feeling tires, or caught slip-and-sliding though a late-season blizzard.
I don’t like guesswork when it comes to my tires: their maintenance is crucial from a safety point of view and also, they’re expensive! I make sure to inspect their condition and pressure at the beginning of each month, and before any road trips. Making the spring swap at the best possible time has become a little bit of a personal obsession. So, beginning in mid-March, I start looking at the longer-range weather forecasts, consulting various sources to determine when that temperature shift will happen. Some forecasters go a little further than others, and will give you their best guess for a couple of weeks ahead (along with predictions based on historical data).
I use my car for a variety of obligations: local errands, visits to family (less local), and regular commutes to the big city a few hours away, and I need know well in advance when I’m going to be without my car for a few hours. Local garages can fill up their slots pretty quickly this time of year, so it’s important to be on top of it and plan ahead. So, I do my research, make my appointment, try not to second-guess myself and hope for the best!
Of course, spring is also a fantastic time to schedule my oil change/maintenance along with my tire swap. On those magical years (when the temperature shift aligns with my regular maintenance requirement) it can all happen in one trip to the garage. While I’m at it, I like to clean out the trunk and interior, and treat the car to a little love at my local Petro-Canada car wash. It’s been a tough winter, and it’s been through a lot:-)
How do you decide when to make the tire switch? Do you watch the weather like a hawk, or pick the same date every year? How often do you get it just right? Leave your tips and stories in the comments below!
~ Paul D