As the cold weather sets in, many areas start to see snow and ice on the roads, and some drivers start to consider a set of winter tires for their vehicles. Winter tires are also sometimes called snow tires and are typical tires with an aggressive tread that offers better traction on slick roads. In some cases, these tires have tiny metal studs in the tread to provide more grip on icy surfaces as well, but there are some things you need to know before putting them on your vehicle.

Changing To Winter Tires

Winter tires are not something you want to use all year long, so many people buy the tires and use them for a few months during bad weather, then take them off in the spring and store them until the following fall. There are several ways to do this, and while one involves more investment upfront, it can save you time later. 

When you change the tires on your vehicle to the winter tires, you can take the tires and your car to a tire shop and have a technician dismount your current tires, mount and balance the winter tires and wrap your standard tires for storage. This means that you must reverse the process in the spring, and it can become costly and time-consuming to mount and unmount your tires several times each year. 

Alternatively, you can buy a second set of wheels for your vehicle, mount the winter tires on them, and then when the time comes to put the winter tires on the vehicle, the shop can swap them for you. It is faster, less expensive, and you may even be able to change the tires yourself if needed. Often you can find used wheels in a salvage yard for a reasonable price that you can clean up and paint to use for your winter tires. 

Timing Your Tire Change

If the winter tires you are using on your car or truck have studs in the tread, you will need to check the local laws for limitations and timing for the use of studded tires. The studs in the winter tires provide more traction for your vehicle, but if the snow and ice are late arriving, they can damage the road surface, so many states prohibit their use until October or November. 

In addition to putting the tires on, studded winter tires must also come off the vehicle by a specified date. Driving on studded winter tires on dry, clear asphalt can pull the studs out of the tread and damage the tire, so it is never a good idea if you can avoid it. Talk to your local tire shop when you are buying new winter tires, and they can go over all the options with you and help you develop a plan that allows the best performance and value for your winter tire needs.