It has been a long, cold winter for much of the United States this year. With the recent warm-up in some places, it's understandable that many drivers using winter tires are tempted to swap them off for their summer or all-season tires.
Why the rush to remove winter set-ups? Many drivers are concerned that their winter tires will wear out quicker during the warmer temperatures. This can be true in prolonged hot conditions, and is the primary reason why winter tires should not be used year-round. However, a few days or even a week of normal driving in warmer temperatures will not damage your snow tires nor cause rapid treadwear with casual driving.
Keep in mind that temporary warm-ups do not guarantee the end of winter driving. In much of the snowbelt and northern Midwest, it's not unheard of to experience snowfalls in April. We always advise those looking to prematurely change back to their summer tires to remember why they purchased winter tires in the first place -- safe and confident driving. If you haven't used winter tires in the past, be sure to take a look at "My Story on Winter Tires."
When should you switch back?
If you own a set of all-season tires, you can consider making the change when daily low temperatures are consistently above freezing each night and the longterm forecast shows no threat of heavy snow. If summer performance tires are your fair weather tires of choice, hold off until all threat of snow and freezing temperatures are gone. Summer tires perform poorly in near-freezing temperatures and offer almost no snow traction. They perform best in warmer temperatures that are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not worth taking the chance of getting caught in snow simply to have your "fun" tires on a week or two sooner.
Be sure to do a thorough inspection of your fair weather tires before putting them back into service. Take a look at "Tire Replacement" to see if your tires can last another season.