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How To Tell When To Replace Winter Tires

How do you know when to replace your winter tires? Read on to learn 3 tire assessment tips, or contact your local TIRECRAFT to go pro with a free winter tire assessment.

Do Not Test Winter Tires “By Feel”

When assessing winter tires, many drivers go by feel. However, this is neither the safest nor the most effective option. Obviously, driving on questionable tires to assess their condition is inherently dangerous, both for you and those with whom you share the road. But it could also cost you more money, leading you to believe you need an upgrade or replacement long before it’s time.

“Most owners will discard older snows long before they completely wear out due to a perceived degradation of performance,” writes Brian Turner in a report for Driving.ca. Should you choose to conduct your winter tire assessment on a particularly icy or snowy day—or should you simply have the misfortune of hitting a small patch of black ice on your drive—you might get the impression that your winter tires are worse off than they are.

In reality, the average Canadian driver, who drives 20,000 to 25,000km per year in a region with at least four months of winter conditions, can expect to get at least four or five seasons out of a set of quality winter tires. What’s more, certain models of winter tires actually get better over time, as their tread designs expose more tread-face blocks and channels the deeper you go.

For best results, book a winter tire consultation at your local TIRECRAFT—it’s completely free!

Check Winter Tire Tread Depth

Transport Canada says winter tires worn close to 5/32” (4 millimeters) should not be used on snow-covered roads, and most tire manufacturers go one step further, recommending that tires with 4/32” tread depth be replaced. Brand new winter tires will have around 12/32” of tread depth.

For more help checking winter tire tread depth, get in touch with your local TIRECRAFT.

Consider Aggravating Factors When Assessing Winter Tire Condition

There are plenty of storage, maintenance, and usage conditions that can accelerate winter tire wear. If you’ve subjected your snows to any of the following aggravating factors, it might be time to book a winter tire replacement—even if your tread wear rating says otherwise.

Some of the most common aggravating factors include:

  • Failing to keep track of winter tire rotations. Despite the proven winter performance offered by all-wheel drive, there are still plenty of front-wheel-drive vehicles on the road, and they’re all notoriously tough on tires, unless they’re rotated regularly—every 10,000km is recommended. If you haven’t been rotating your winter tires every season, you might be due for a replacement sooner than you think.
  • Driving in warm or hot weather. Winter tires use a specialized soft rubber compound that prevents them from stiffening up in cold weather. But that same brilliant design makes winter tires wear out fast in warmer weather.
  • Improper winter tire storage. If you stored your winter tires in poor conditions—in the sun, near electric motors that create ozone, or stacked or hanging improperly—it might be time for a replacement.

Book A Free Winter Tire Assessment: Contact Your Local TIRECRAFT

Use the Find a TIRECRAFT tool to get started with an ASE-certified tire tech near you.