When to Put On Winter Tires

Winter is right around the corner. In the Hamilton and surrounding areas, when the temperature begins to dip, it’s common to have a first frost around the Thanksgiving mark. That’s also the time that most people would guess is the best time to have their winter tires installed, but they’re all wrong. The best time to have your winter tires installed has nothing to do with dates or snow. It’s all about the temperature.

What’s the right temperature?

As soon as the temperature dips below 7°C you should consider changing to winter tires in order to benefit from the increased traction, braking and handling they provide. The engineers in the tire industry have determined that the rubber on all-season tires hardens too much to be effective when the thermometer hits 7°C. It’s at this temperature that winter tires start doing their best work.

Today’s winter tires are not only designed to perform in snowy conditions but perform better on cold, dry pavement, too. Once you can see your breath, it’s already time to put on those winter tires. Winter tires deliver superior braking and cornering in winter temperatures and conditions like ice, snow, slush and even cold, dry asphalt.

If you wait for the first sign of snowflakes to have your tires changed over, it could be days before you get them changed, compromising your safety in the meantime. Why not play it safe and have them installed not just early, but on time, when the temperature averages 0 to 7°C in your area?

Winter Tire Tread

To give optimum grip at temperatures below 7°C, winter tires have a rubber compound that stays soft and flexible with aggressive tread blocks that bite snow and ice. If you face cold temperatures and heavy, hard-packed snow, winter tires provide the most reliable performance and safety.

Tire testing results showed even a 75% worn premium winter tire stopped nearly 3 metres sooner than a new 3 season tire so you enjoy better braking and cornering on snow and ice throughout the life of your winter tire.

Winter Tire Checklist

Install tires on your vehicle which correspond to the winter driving conditions that are relevant to you because winter driving conditions will impact your vehicle’s performance. Talk to your dealer about your driving habits and the winter road conditions you drive in to determine what kind of winter tires are best for you. Here’s the checklist:

  • Do you live where cold temperatures are common?
  • Do you drive on icy or snowy roads?
  • Do you have to use your vehicle every day, regardless of the weather?
  • Do you drive off of main streets and roads in winter?
  • Do you drive early in the morning or late at night in winter?
  • Do you drive nearly the same speed regardless of temperature?


When equipping your vehicle with winter tires, it is important that winter tires are installed in sets of four to help maintain control and stability of your vehicle in icy conditions. Anything less than four winter tires compromises your vehicle’s safety and the overall effectiveness of winter tires.

Front Only?

Never install only two winter tires on the front axle of a vehicle. This is particularly dangerous and could result in a complete loss of control. Installing two winter tires on the front axle only will increase the grip in the front, leading to a false sense of confidence and a decreased grip in the rear, causing oversteer.

Rear Only?

Installing two winter tires on the rear axle only will increase grip in the rear, but may surprise a driver with decreased grip in the front, causing understeer.

Be Prepared

The Hamilton area has had some very harsh winters with sleet, ice and snow. This year will probably see the same type of conditions again. Remember to get your winter tires on as soon as the temperature dips to the frost zone so you and your family will be prepared for the upcoming winter.