There are three types of tires available on the market – summer, winter and all-season. All these types of tires are very distinct from one another. Many drivers tend to forget that the weather conditions in summer and winter differ as well. When to replace tyres? Why is it important to replace tires accordingly to the current season?
Is it worth replacing tires accordingly to the seasons?
Are you one of the drivers who claim that tire replacement for the winter ones is unnecessary, when the weather seems to be turning to spring, and investing in new set of winter tires is an unnecessary expense? We know it well that mounting winter tires as well as the summer ones requires a lot of time or visiting an auto repair shop. When making this important decision to replace tires, it’s vital to take into account the current weather conditions in your country. In winter, only the tires tailored to the winter weather will perform well. It’s a lot better to replace tires and ensure the driving comfort rather than stress about the necessity to drive in difficult conditions. It’s good to plan the the tire replacement when the temperature lowers below 7 degree Celsius – the winter tires are ideal for low temperatures. No driver can be sure that in the morning they won’t see frost and glaze, and after a few hours spent at work, the streets won’t be covered by a thick layer of snow. Driving in such conditions on summer tires is not only dangerous for the driver and the passengers, but also for other road users.
The above situation does not mean that only replacing your summer tires with the winter ones is important. Replacing the winter tires with the summer ones is also very important. The summer tires are way more resistant to such weather conditions, and they also perform better on dry and wet surfaces.
How to correctly replace tires?
Replacing tires on your own is not difficult, but if you don’t know much about it, it’s good to use the help of a professional. Replacing tires requires following certain steps, therefore the tire fitting shop employees not only mount a new set of tires, but also check their quality. It’s especially important when tires get replaced with already used ones – it’s obligatory to check the thread depth, i.e. whether it’s not smaller than 1.6 mm.
If you decide to replace tired on your own, you need to dispose of certain essential equipment. You need a jack, a cross key, a dynamometric key, a wire brush and a grease pencil. The process of tire replacement itself is not difficult, and it consists of a few steps:
- in case of a manual transmission, leave the car in gear, and automatics in park,
- loosen all the wheel nuts – use a cross key for this,
- then place the jack in a well-marked spot – jack up the car so that the tire is lifted a few centimeters above the ground,
- with the use of a cross key, you can now proceed to unscrewing all the nuts and marking the wheels – LF, RF, LR, RR,
- with the use of a wire brush remove rust and dirt of the wheel hub,
- now, you can start mounting new tires – mount the wheel and place the nuts back in their spots. Don’t tighten them in 100% – at this stage they should be slightly screwed,
- with the use of a jack lower the car, so that the tires touch the ground and don’t rotate,
- then, with the use of a dynamometric key tighten the nuts and fully lower the car.
When to replace tires for the winter ones
The summer tires were designed taking into account three main aims – ensuring safety, lower fuel consumption and quiet operation. When the average daily temperature lowers below 7 degree Celsius, the rubber which the summer tires are made from hardens. As a result, the vehicle has difficulties maintaining good grip. When the mentioned weather conditions include also downfalls, especially those creating glaze, drivers feel as if they’re driving a sleigh. The summer tires then not only are hard but also their thread has not enough grooves in its pattern in order to effectively shed mud or snow. Then, instead of the summer tires you should use the winter ones. They are made from a soft low-temperature resistant blend which has a way richer groove pattern – additionally, the grooves are thicker and more densely arranged. As a result, the ride is safer in difficult road conditions. Thanks to this, the driver and the passengers are safer. Unfortunately, as it happens in life, nothing comes for free.
You must remember that tires can never guarantee 100% safety in difficult winter conditions. In unusual, demanding conditions, drivers must opt for safe driving, increased caution and attention.
When to replace tires for the summer ones
All the advantages which contribute to better grip of the winter tires in difficult condition contribute also to increased fuel consumption and noisier operation. Driving on a highway on winter tires in a poorly soundproof car usually results in you getting a headache. So now we have the first two arguments for replacing winter tires in May, ,after the winter season, and not using them all year round.
It’s also worth remembering that what helps you on a snow-covered or muddy road – the system of wide and dense grooves on winter tires – not only is unhelpful in summer, but it might also be a problem. The contact surface between these tires with the road is smaller compared to the summer ones, with reduced density of the grooves, which in effect worsens the grip. Another thing to keep in mind is that the winter tires are made of a soft blend, which increases the risk of puncturing the tires. In effect, it might turn out that using the winter tires all year might result in more frequent visits in the tire fitting shops. An important argument for replacing winter tires with the summer ones is their faster exploitation when the temperature exceeds 25-30 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless people planning to go on a long summer holiday in Europe by car should invest in tires of appropriate quality.
If not the winter tires, how about the all-season ones?
The tire industry, in order to meet the need of people looking for universal solutions in the automotive tire sphere, has introduced the so-called all-season tires. This type of tires is made of a blend softer than the one used to produce the summer tires, but harder than the blend used in the winter tires. In addition, the all-season tires is enriched with a complex groove system – it consists of elements which are not included in both summer and winter tires. Could it be true that the all-season tires are the happy mean – the best solution?
It all depends on the point of view. You might say that the all-season tires combine the advantages of the summer and the winter tires. On the other hand, though, it’s important to highlight that the all-season tires are not deprived of the disadvantages of those types of tires. As a result, in summer, there is more noise in the passenger cabin, and the fuel gauge decreases faster, compared to the fuel consumption when using the summer tires. In winter, the grip of the car is worse, and the braking distance is slightly longer, which in effect worsens the safety of all the road traffic users.
The above arguments make many drivers think that it’s the most reasonable to replace tires accordingly to the current season – to use the winter tires in winter, and replace them with the summer ones once the summer starts. The necessity to visit a vulcaniser is actually a good thing. Due to the fact that such visit is usually planned at least a week ahead, you can easily buy tires on the Internet, where you can find a wide range of selection and good prices. Besides, during the visit you can ask to have the tire pressure checked, as well as have the tires balanced. It’s important as when the tire pressure is too low the fuel consumption increases, and when it’s too high it might increase the tire vulnerability to mechanical damage. After all, we never have time to regularly check the tires with a compressor ourselves. The tire fitting shops often offer other services, e.g. air conditioning service. While having your tires replaced, you can also have your air conditioning checked in terms of any leakage and have the coolant refilled.
Tire rotation – how to do it correctly?
Tire rotation is an action of swapping tires on the axles, which allows extending the life of tires. Tire rotation allows placing the more exploited tires on the axle which exploits them slower and vice versa. As a result, it allows evening the thread depth. Drivers decide to do it for a few reasons, although the most common ones are ecology and saving money. Regular tire rotation allows reduce differences in the structure caused during the use. It’s important to rotate the winter as well as the summer tires every now and then. It all depends on the models and the brand of the tires – some need rotating every 5.000 km, others – every 12.000 kilometers.
How to maintain tires while using them
Appropriate tire maintenance extends their life. It’s worth keeping in mind that the quality of the chosen tires and replacing them for the winter ones, when snowfall starts, and for the summer tires with the beginning of spring. Apart from the mentioned reasons, it’s also important to:
- check the tire pressure regularly,
- check the suspension geometry,
- drive the car appropriately, avoiding any mechanical damage,
- store the tires between seasons appropriately to avoid micro-cracks.
Where is replacing tires mandatory?
Drivers travelling through the European Union countries must not only be familiar with the traffic laws of a particular country, but also know in which countries the seasonal tire replacement is mandatory? Tire replacement is mandatory in 29 European countries, and in 16 of them there are determined deadlines within which it should be done. Among these countries there are: Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Germany, Slovakia, Sweden and Romania.