This is When to Change to Winter Tires, According to Auto Experts

Although most Canadians do indeed change to winter tires, a new study suggests we're doing it at the wrong time...

Switch to winter tiresPhoto: Shutterstock

When to change winter tires

Why does it always take the first snowstorm of the year to remind us we really ought to schedule that winter tire change?

Although a majority of Canadian drivers (64%) do indeed change to winter tires every year, 42% of us are doing so at the wrong time, according to a winter safety poll from Hankook Tire.

Jeff Bullock, tire expert and Hankook Tire spokesman, says winter tires are critical to road safety. “Winter tires are made from a high tech rubber material that is designed to perform in cold temperatures,” he explains. “The correct time to change to winter tires is when the temperature drops below seven degrees Celsius. This is the point where your summer tires will begin to lose their grip, may fail to brake and will decline in performance and overall safety. They are not designed to sustain the fierce cold of winter.”

When choosing winter tires, Bullock suggests looking for the snowflake: Winter tires are identifiable as such because they feature a snowflake icon on the side wall. For proper safety, put four winter tires on your vehicle. Trying to save money by just switching out the two front tires is ineffective. Your car needs four of the same tires in order to drive safely in winter conditions.

What’s more, if you’ve had the same winter tires for several years, you might be due for an upgrade. Manufacturers are continually developing innovative new materials that further enhance tire performance and driving safety.

“When it comes to tires, a lot can change in a year from the technology standpoint,” says Bullock. “For example, the winter i*Cept iZ from Hankook is developed with the latest design technology and features interlocking 3D tread with unique features that channel water away from the tire to reduce slipping and hydroplaning. Which means you will have better control over your vehicle no matter how cold and stormy it gets.”

Now that you know when to change to winter tires, find out 20+ things you must do to get your car ready for winter.