3 tips to properly maintain your winter tires

October 17, 2014

Quality winter tires will perform well on dangerously slippery roads for years to come if they’re properly maintained. What’s more, a little routine care when storing your tires will help to avoid unpleasant surprises the next time you pull them out for installation. Here are some winter tire maintenance tips to extend their life as long as possible.

3 tips to properly maintain your winter tires

Whether you already have winter tires or plan to buy a new set, basic maintenance can help to extend their longevity and sustain their performance for years.

1. Inspect your tires closely

If you already own winter tires it's a good idea to look them over before having them installed.

  • Do you notice any bulges, worn spots or cracks? They're signs of a failing tire.
  • You should also check to make sure that the treads have at least 1.5 mm of depth remaining.

Any of these signs could mean trouble once you get out onto the road, which is why it's best to check your tires before you wind up stuck in a ditch in the middle of nowhere.

If you haven't had a chance to check your tires and you're already at the tire store or your mechanic’s shop, the technician should be able to spot any problems before they're installed.

  • If there are issues with your tires, the technician will most likely recommend that you buy a new set.

2. Check the tires regularly throughout the winter

Although it might seem unappealing, especially when the winter winds are howling, your winter tires should be checked and maintained while they are in use – much as you do with your all-seasons or summer tires.

Check your tire pressure often
Underinflated tires will drastically reduce your vehicle's efficiency, may cause uneven tread wear and could potentially result in a  tire blowout.

  • Remember that your tire pressure can dip below normal, especially in colder conditions.

Examine the tire treads
When the road is covered with snow and ice, chances are the treads on your tires are clogged, too.

  • The risk here is that damaging debris can remain hidden, lodged in the tread channels. That's why after driving in these conditions, you should visually check your tires for any nails, glass or other foreign objects.

3. Store your winter tires carefully

Once temperatures start to warm and it’s time to take off your winter tires, proper storage will not only keep them in good condition but they'll be ready to go for future winter seasons.

To properly store winter tires

  • Keep the tires out of direct sunlight and areas that reach high temperatures, such as in the garden shed. This can cause the rubber compound in winter tires to deteriorate and eventually break down. In turn, you may eventually start to see small cracks on the sidewalls.
  • Never store the tires on their treads. This can cause flat spots. Lay them on their side, stacked on top of one another, if possible.
  • Avoid keeping winter tires in moist locations. The best storage areas are typically dark and dry without fluctuating temperatures.
  • For added protection, consider buying a set of tire covers. If your winter tires are on rims, it will keep them clean and dust-free throughout the summer. You can also use the covers for your summer or all-season tires in winter when they're not in use.

When you need to buy new winter tires

If your winter tires are no longer in decent shape, it's always wiser to purchase new ones.

  • Remember that when you purchase new winter tires, you should always buy a complete set of four.
  • Installing only two winter tires may result in uneven tread wear, problems with handling and could potentially damage your vehicle's drivetrain if you have full-time four wheel-drive. Consequently, you'll be forced to replace your tires much sooner and there's a greater risk that your vehicle will require other repairs.

Although it may seem pricey at first to buy four new tires, you can't put a value on your safety and health. The good news? When properly stored and maintained, a good set of winter tires can last you for many years.

Talk to the experts

If you'd like to know more about your winter tire options and how to keep them in good shape, your regular mechanic or nearby local tire retailers can provide you with further helpful advice.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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