When to Switch to Winter / Snow Tires

Aluminum Service JackThe time has come for me to switch out my summer wheels and tires for my winter set. We had our first snow last week, and while it didn't stick to the ground, the temperatures are regularly dipping below freezing and the next snow might stick to the road. Even wet roads in near-freezing temperatures make summer tires noticeably less grippy.

There's no set rule on exactly when to change over, but for me, several factors make the decision. First, once the first snowflakes appear, I have to assume that real snow isn't far behind. I consider this my warning. Second, travel plans make a difference. If all of my driving is local, I can usually change over in the morning before work if I really must. However, this year I'm going out of town for Thanksgiving, so I don't want to have to worry about what weather might crop up while I'm traveling.  

Lastly, the type of winter / snow tire makes a difference, as well. For example, if I have a set of winter performance rims and tires, I will change them on the earlier side, because I can still have fun driving while the roads remain dry.  With a Studless Ice and Snow tire, it's best to make the switch as late as safely possible, so you can enjoy driving performance late into the year. Right now I have Michelin X-Ice Xi2 tires installed on my vehicle, which are reasonably good on dry roads, but not really a performance tire, therefore I didn't make the change until as late as I comfortably could.

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