Buying a reliable pair of tires is equally important as properly installing them and putting them on your vehicle at the right time of the year.

If you put your winter tires on too early, you could wear them down faster or ruin them. It is ideal to wait until temperatures drop under 45 degrees consistently before putting on and installing your winter tires. For most people, the best time is in the middle of November or the start of December.

Winter tires are increasingly becoming more important when you are driving on the roads in the winter weather. Winter tires are an excellent way of improving your driving capabilities in cold winter weather. This guide details more about how winter tires work and when the best time to install them onto your vehicle is.

Our experts have worked closely with the internal designs of winter tires to better understand how the rubber and tread compounds react to temperatures. Because of the soft design, they struggle with heat. This guide discusses more about this and when you should put on winter tires.  

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When To Put On & Install Winter Tires

The best time to put on your winter tires is when the temperatures start to approach 45 degrees and below for winter. This is because of how snow and ice will play a major role in making the road very slippery.

However, you should make sure not to install them too early too. This is a common mistake that people make when they install their winter tires too early. It can be a costly error that could ruin your tires too.

Drivers will put the winter tires on in the fall when it's still warm outside, causing the winter tires to drive in higher temperatures that can cause both performance and durability issues.

It's important to not install your winter tires too early because temperatures above 50-55 degrees can cause problems. This is because they are designed to work best in temperatures below freezing.

Once the temperature is consistently below 45 degrees, you can safely install your winter tires. You can also remember that they work best in freezing temperatures, so waiting a little longer is not an issue because your current tires should not have an issue handling the current weather unless snow starts to fall.

What Month Should You Put Winter Tires On?

Picking an exact month for everybody is nearly impossible because of how different the weather can be based on what region of the United States you live in. Temperatures react differently and can be difficult to predict.

For example, people in the New England area that experience harsh winters and cold temperatures will be able to wait longer to install their winter tires compared to those in the Midwest. Freezing temperatures typically arrive sooner in this region.

November is generally the best month to put your winter tires on because temperatures start to drop below freezing levels. but if it's still mild outside then you can wait until December when there won't be as much snow.

If you have been getting warmer temperatures still in November, it can be done in early December as an alternative. However, it is best to check your weather forecasts to see the projections for your local area.

What Happens If I Put My Winter Tires On Too Early?

One of the most common mistakes drivers make is putting winter tires on too early. It's a good idea to wait until the snow starts to fall or temperatures drop significantly before doing this.

When you put them on too soon, they can reduce responsiveness and performance, especially with the cold weather. Tires that are put on too early will always be at the disadvantage of the driver because they will not have enough tread to grip road surfaces.

Depending on how early you put the winter tires on, you could even cause the rubber compounds to crack and deteriorate if the temperature is too high. In higher heat, the pavement will cause this to happen and the tire will be destroyed.

The tread of a winter tire will squirm in warm temperatures hurting both road grip and durability. The tread has to be pumped out during the winter season because it is too soft to withstand the higher temperature.

The best thing you can do is follow along with this guide and wait for consistent temperatures under 45 degrees in November or early December before installing your winter tires.

What Happens If I Put My Winter Tires On Too Late?

If you wait too long to put on your winter tires, you could be forced to use a tire not suitable for the winter in freezing temperatures, snow, or ice. This could result in driving difficulties or safety concerns for you and your vehicle.

All-season tires and summer tires cannot handle extremely cold temperatures. They lose their grip and tread life. Winter tires are better designed to handle these conditions with more accuracy and strength.

A common mistake is waiting until the snow hits the ground to change your tires. But in the moment, you are unable to instantly make the tire swap and get caught driving the wrong tire through the snow. This is especially problematic if you were previously using a summer tire because they cannot handle any cold temperatures at all.

A summer tire is too firm to handle the cold. It cannot get flexible enough as the temperature drops and causes the stiff rubber to break down. This results in less road traction, tread life, and overall tire performance.

Do You Need To Wait For It To Snow To Put On Winter Tires?

You do not need to wait until it snows before you use your winter tires. You should put them on before because once they are cold, they lose effectiveness and traction. By being prepared, you will not need to worry about a last-minute tire changing or using the wrong tires during a snowstorm.

Winter tires are ideal to drive through the snow because the design is made to specifically provide flexibility and traction in these conditions. However, if you wait to change your tire then you will be forced to drive a summer tire instead.

We recommend changing your winter tires before the first time it snows. Track the temperatures as the baseline for when exactly you should put winter tires on your vehicle.

2 Signs You Need To Put On Your Winter Tires

Based on where you live, we all know when the winter months are approaching based on how the weather is changing. You should keep in mind the temperatures outside along with these two signs about your tires to determine when the best time to put winter tires on your vehicle is.

1. Tire Tread Depth Is Too Shallow

If your tread depth is too shallow, that means you need to put on your winter tires now and make an upgrade as soon as possible. You should always check your tread depth, but this especially needs to be done before the winter season.

It can be done by placing a coin in between the treads to see how deep they go. However, if you are not sure how to accurately gauge the tread depth this way it's not a big deal. You can always take your vehicle to a local mechanic and have them take a look for you.

2. Tires Are Making A Thumping Noise

When driving, you should always look for indicators that might tell you it is time to change the tires on your vehicle. If you are heading into the winter season and start to hear a thumping sound while you drive, this is coming from your tires.

This sound indicates that your current tires are not handling the temperature changes well and it is time to make the switch to a set of winter tires. By doing so, you will eliminate the thumping sound that is caused by colder temperatures causing flat spots along your tire treads.

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding