We’ve been seeing a lot of threads asking us about tires (among other common winter-related threads), and since they’re the thing that’ll keep you going (or not going) this winter, let’s have us a proper megathread. This thread is for everyone who has a question to post their question, and everyone who wants to help to answer it!
If you have a question, please list any specifics you have. Most importantly: the precise car you have, the tire sizes you currently have, your budget for new tires, and the kind of weather you’re dealing with (temperature, whether there’s ice/snow and how much of it, and whether you have to drive on it regularly.)
However, first we’d like to offer some generic advice, and it goes roughly like this:
- If you don’t have to drive on snow and ice, don’t drive on snow and ice. Fill your pantry and wait out bad snowstorms unless there are pressing needs to drive. No matter how awesome your tires and your car is, lives are more important than needing to buy that cute ratchet wrench on sale.
- All-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, 4×4, whatever you have, it’ll help you get going but it will not help you stop. Don’t rely on your SUV or your truck to get you stopped on ice.
- On a related note, if you have a RWD pickup truck, throw a couple hundred pounds into your truck bed if it’s currently empty. You’ll want it for traction.
- A summer performance tire is expected to lose much of its traction at around ~40F/7C and be damaged when driven on below freezing. Winter/snow tires are the opposite – above around 40-50F, they start to lose their qualities and may be damaged. Quality all-weather tires can usually be relied on to seriously cold temperatures, but of course they’re a trade-off in all respects.
- If you can afford to wait out snowstorms and ice, and it’s not hitting significantly sub-zero temperatures, proper all-weather tires are actually quite good these days. You can look up temperature ratings, if they’re published. Feel free to commute year-round on all-weather tires if you already use them for the summer, but don’t rely on them in snow or ice. If you have summer tires, though, swap them out when it gets cold regardless.
- If you are going to need to drive on snow and ice regularly, swap out your tires for snow tires once it consistently stays sub-40F or once it starts snowing. Take them off again in the spring when it warms up. If you need snow tires, ensure that your budget is somewhat flexible: an extra $15 per tire isn’t worth dying over.
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