Published March 31, 2017
Summer tires: here's everything you need to know with the arrival of spring
After several months of having to deal with the cold, snow and ice, motorists are ready for the arrival of spring and the return of warmer temperatures. Soon, many will be washing their vehicle in front of their garage entrance on a sunny day, and most of us are already eager to install our summer tires.
But is this the right time? And are our summer tires still in good condition? What about using nitrogen instead of air? Is it a good idea? Tires are often a source of confusion for consumers, so we have prepared this short guide to answer the most frequent questions on the subject.
When should I install my summer tires?
Even though we can legally drive with summer tires since March 15th, that does not mean that we must immediately go to a retailer to have them installed. Mother Nature's whims do not necessarily follow provincial law, and we are not immune to another snowstorm in the coming weeks.
The majority of experts agree that winter tires should remain on our vehicle until at least mid-April. Even if there is no snow, outside temperatures remain cold, and a summer tire loses its effectiveness when the temperature falls below 7 degrees. It then becomes very hard which will hurt both the handling and the braking capacity. So wait a few more weeks before putting on your summer tires. Since it is still chilly outside, you will not damage your winter tires by keeping them on your vehicle a little longer.
Do I need new winter tires?
Nobody likes to spend money on tires. In addition, many consumers tend to place less emphasis on summer tires than on winter tires because road conditions are easier in summer. That is true, but the fact remains that our summer tires must be in good condition if we are to ensure our safety and that of the passengers in our vehicle.
It is relatively easy to determine if your summer tires need to be replaced. You can use the famous 25 cents test or a specialized tool. Several tires also have wear indicators that will tell you if your summer tires need to be replaced. Do not forget that the tires will wear out during the summer, so if they are just about worn out, it may be wise to replace them immediately instead of having to deal with the problem later.
And for those who would be tempted to keep their winter tires on their vehicle, know that their grip will be greatly reduced especially when the road is wet. The composition of a winter tire is made for cold weather. When it is hot, it will lose all effectiveness.
What about nitrogen?
For some time now, we have heard a lot of talk about inflating tires with nitrogen rather than air. Since nitrogen is an inert gas, the idea is that it will allow the tires to maintain the same pressure, regardless of external conditions. Nitrogen remains more stable especially when temperatures drop.
Although the idea is good, major tire manufacturers claim that in normal driving situations there are no differences between air and nitrogen. Michelin, for example, recommends nitrogen only for aircraft and racing vehicles.
Ultimately, there are no studies that have shown significant benefits in using nitrogen to inflate its tires.
We hope that these tips will help you with your summer tires this spring!