While winter is not quite here for most, it is coming. Is it too early to install your winter / snow tires? I get this question often and the answer varies depending on a few factors. In my opinion, the most important issues to consider are climate and the type of winter / snow tire that you're using.
Climate is arguably the most important factor in deciding when to install your winter snow tires. A driver in Alaska would install their winter tires earlier in the year than a driver in Illinois (and leave them on longer into the spring, as well). This is not only because some areas get snow before other parts of the country, but due to the fact that temperature also plays a role. It's a good time to consider installing your winter / snow tires when average highs are consistently below 50º Fahrenheit.
Most winter tires are designed to operate in lower ambient temperatures and may wear more rapidly when driven aggressively on warm pavement. This is especially true for more severe-duty winter / snow tires that we categorize as Studless Ice and Snow, including the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Michelin X-Ice Xi2.
As mentioned above, Studless Ice and Snow tires like the Blizzak WS70 tend to wear more rapidly in warmer temperatures due to their soft compound and heavily siped tread patterns. Performance Winter / Snow tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 can handle higher temperatures with less rapid tread wear compared to Studless Ice and Snow tires. Therefore, one can install Performance Winter / Snow tires earlier in the year and leave them on longer with less effect on wear. And to see how these winter performance tires perform, check out our Tire Survey Results.
If you don't yet have a winter tire setup, check out our snow tire prices and create a Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for the ultimate in convenience, as you can install them yourself without waiting in line at auto tire stores.