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When to Put On Snow Tires

A car with snow tires navigates deep snow.

Winter weather can cause big problems for drivers. When snow is on the road, regular tires have less traction than they would on dry pavement, which can create a safety issue when you’re behind the wheel.

Fortunately, snow tires can help. These tires are specifically designed to provide increased traction in cold weather and can be literal lifesavers during winter driving.

It’s important to know when to put on snow tires for optimal safety, so let’s take a closer look at how to determine when the right time for snow tires is.

Consider Outdoor Temperature, Not Calendar Date

As you decide when to install snow tires, remember that the calendar date is not important. What matters is the average outdoor temperature in your location. When it gets to the point where the temperature is consistently below 45°F, it’s time to make the switch to snow tires. You’ll want to keep them on until the temperature is consistently above 45°F.winter road

Why is outdoor temperature such a crucial factor? While tires for different seasons do differ in terms of tread pattern, the biggest difference is in the materials used to make the tires. In cold weather, summer and all-season tires become hard and inflexible. As you might expect, this hinders their ability to provide safe traction.

Snow tires are made from much softer rubber compounds. These compounds allow snow tires to remain pliable when the mercury dips. This flexibility actually helps the tires bite into snow and conform to the driving surface, delivering the grip needed to keep you moving in the intended direction and stop in time.

Because their unique rubber compounds react to the cold rather than the snow itself, snow tires provide safety benefits that extend beyond driving on snow-covered roads. They deliver better cold-weather traction than regular tires even when road surfaces are kept clear of snow.

Snow Tire Installation

Here’s another important fact to know about installing snow tires: you need to put them on all four wheels of your vehicle. Installing snow tires in sets of four is a must if you want to maintain control of your car in icy weather.

If you install them on the front wheels only, it could decrease traction on the rear wheels, leading to dangerous oversteer. If you install them only on the rear axle, it could leave the front wheels (which also do most of the braking) with reduced grip, triggering treacherous understeer.

A Winter Must-Have

Snow tires are essential for winter driving and are an absolute necessity for keeping yourself and those around you safe. Now that you know when to put on snow tires, you can take steps to ensure that your vehicle can tackle wintry roads confidently.

Check out all the tires, wheels and accessories available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on winter driving, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.


Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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