They pass through heat waves across long stretches of the Trans Canada highway, back roads to the farm, campground or the cabin, and wait for hours on steaming asphalt parking lots. Our tires certainly get put to the test in the summer, and while we count on them to make the best of summer happen, we often forget about them. As summer nears an end, and to help ensure the safety and performance of your tires for the rest of road trip season, we’ve put together a list of the three most common mistakes drivers make when it comes to summer tire maintenance.
1. Driving on tires with extremely low tread depth
According the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act, passenger vehicle and light truck tires have to be replaced when tread depth reaches 2/32 of an inch or 1.5 millimetres on summer tires. That’s actually the minimum before your tread depth is considered legally bald; however, even at this tread depth, safety is being compromised.
In fact, to ensure optimal handling and reduce the risk of blowouts, many manufacturers recommend replacing tires when tread depth reaches 4 mm.
“The risk is increased sharply when the tread depth falls below most tire manufacturers’ recommendation of a minimum of four mm,” says Nokian Tyres.
Learn more in our post Are My Summer Tires Worn Out?
2. Driving on tires that are underinflated or overinflated
Most drivers are on top of their tire pressure in the winter, when cold air causes tires to deflate. In the summer, hotter temperatures can have the opposite effect (read our post Summer Tire Pressure: Mind Your PSI).
Temperatures aside, our vehicles do a lot more traveling and with heavier loads in the summer, so it’s important to maintain their recommended air pressure, and that tire maintenance task often gets neglected in the summer months.
Look up the recommended air pressure for your vehicle on the driver’s side door jam or the owner’s manual, and check it regularly—maybe even every few days if you’re on a road trip, and every time you fuel up through the summer. A great habit to get into as winter nears.
If you’ve still got a few road trips ahead, Nokian has this summer tire pressure advice:
“For a fully loaded car, the tire pressure should be increased by 10-15 per cent from normal pressure level. When checking the pressure, drivers should ensure that the tires are cold, and avoid checking immediately after driving.”
3. Driving on winter tires in the summer
You might be surprised how many vehicles we see in July and August still on winter tires. Some drivers are trying to stretch their budget, and think it’s safer to have winters in summer than summers on winter. Other drivers just never got around to coming in for spring changeover.
Whatever the reason, unless we’re talking about all-weather tires, it’s a dangerous move.
Here’s why: Winter tires are made with a rubber compound designed to stay soft and give grip in colder temperatures only. In the summer, winter tires’ wet grip is “nowhere near the necessary level of
Aside from compromised safety and handling, there are several reasons not to drive winter tires in summer. Read more in our post What Happens When You Use Winter Tires All Year Round?
Healthy, well-maintained summer tires give you improved safety and tire life, and a bit of peace of mind just when you need it most.
Not sure about your tire’s tread depth, inflation levels or all-weather label? Visit the summer tire maintenance experts at one of our Kal Tire locations near you!