As summer approaches in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a key question is whether motorists with winter tires are getting their seasonal tire changes.
Keeping winter tires on during the summer increases the risk of aquaplaning because winter tire treads don’t shed water as effectively as those of summer or all-season tires, warns CAA Quebec.
“One of the things we need to consider, when it comes to winter tires, is they do very well in the snow but it does not necessarily mean it does as well on the dry asphalt,” said Elliott Silverstein, director of government relations for CAA Insurance.
In Canada right now, there is no need to rush to get the winter tires off, Silverstein said in an interview. In southern Ontario, it could be a different story by late May.
Winter tires tend to lose their grip in temperatures warmer than 7 degrees Celsius, and high temperatures will damage winter tires, reports personal injury law firm Howie, Sacks and Henry LLP.
“If the temperate does dip below zero, you are going to want to have those winter tires on, to be able to navigate those roads in case they get icy,” said Silverstein, noting the weather right now is different across the country.
Moreover, different insurers have different guidelines on when the clients should have their winter tires on. “Some say the end of March, some say mid-April,” said Silverstein.
Having winter tires during the summer is not as big of a safety issue as driving in the winter with summer tires, Ontario Safety League CEO Brian Patterson suggests.
“People say, ‘I am going down to Florida, and it’s March, I am not coming back for six weeks. What’s going to happen?’ Virtually nothing,” Patterson said in an interview with Candian Underwriter. “So the issue with winter tires is the composition of the rubber.”
For Patterson, there is a safety concern if motorists change their tires themselves and don’t know exactly what they are doing.
There have been several accidents caused by a wheel coming off a vehicle whose owner did their own seasonal tire change, reported Patterson.
“You don’t need a Ph.D. to change your tires, but you need to know the physics of changing them,” Patterson warned.
This means making sure the lug nuts are properly tightened – and having the lug nuts re-torqued. Some auto repair facilities recommend having them re-torqued after driving 100 kilometres.
Re-torqueing, says Patterson, only takes a mechanic a few minutes. “That requires a relatively common tool, about $200 for the tool. You may be less likely to have one unless you are a bit of an at-home mechanic,” said Patterson.
“All it takes is one [lug nut] to come loose to create a bit of a problem for you,” said Silverstein.
The stresses of driving may cause lug nuts to become too tight or too loose over time, reports tire maker Continental AG.
“If lug nuts are too loose, there’s a small risk that the wheel could come off while you’re driving,” according to Continental, a manufacturer of auto parts, including tires. “The lug nuts on a wheel are tightened in a specific sequence to provide the proper torque. The correct order for any wheel with five or ten lug nuts is a star-shaped pattern. A wheel with only four lug nuts, meanwhile, is tightened in the shape of a cross.”