Sometimes, you need to travel regardless of the weather. Life throws us all kinds of curveballs and waiting until spring or summer to travel long distances might not be an option. So, are long road trips with winter tires possible?
You can go on a long road trip with winter tires, but there are concerns you must consider. Winter traveling is not like summer traveling. You need to prepare and be a skilled driver. While winter tires are important, they don’t determine whether it’s safe to travel during the winter.
The rest of this article will explain how to prepare for a winter road trip, and how to drive during the winter. I’ll also talk about what supplies you need to be safe and what to do if your car breaks down. Winter road trips are hard, but anyone can survive them if they research and prepare beforehand.
What Will Happen if You Take a Long Road Trip on Winter Tires?
Should you take a long winter road trip, you’ll likely encounter many difficulties on the way. There are many reasons people don’t travel during winter, and you’ll have to contend with them.
If you take a long road trip on winter tires, you’ll be fine as long as you pay attention to your safety and the conditions on the road. If you’re driving in wintry weather, you’ll likely find driving much easier if you’ve got your trusty winter tires.
However, although winter tires are essential for long trips in bad weather, you should also consider whether it’s possible to drive safely. Even with winter tires, roads may become impassable. Besides installing proper tires, you must also adapt your driving technique for winter road conditions.
You also may find that paths through specific areas are closed or unsafe to travel on, especially if they’re remote. In these cases, you’ll have to take a different route, and having a GPS will be essential to finding your way.
How Many Seasons Do Winter Tires Last?
It’s common practice to remove your winter tires during warmer months and then reinstall them during the winter. But you may wonder, how many winter seasons can winter tires withstand?
Winter tires typically last at least three winters or 30,000 miles as long as they are treated well. You’ll need to take care of the tires to ensure they last by:
- Driving slowly.
- Maintaining proper tire pressure.
- Removing your winter tires in the spring.
- Wash them before storing them to remove road salt and other chemicals.
Another practice to avoid when you’re trying to preserve your winter tires is replacing only one tire out of a set. When you do this, your vehicle sits differently, and that causes the already-installed tires to wear unevenly. It can also cause them to wear through completely in one spot and will shorten their life.
Road salt and chemical deicers pose considerable risk to your tires, too. Though most people think of their vehicle’s paint first, these substances are often damaging to everything they touch, including rubber tires.
So, when you remove your winter tires in the spring, make sure to wash them off with the hose before you pack them away in your garage or shed. You don’t need to use anything specific to clean them — water is good enough. Doing so will not only keep your tires cleaner, but it’ll prolong your tires’ life.
Should You Change Your Winter Tires Before a Long Trip?
It’s essential you prepare well before embarking on a winter road trip, but should you change your tires before you set out?
Whether you should change your tires before a long road trip is dependent upon their mileage and their current state. Check your tires for cracks, worn treads, and other signs of wear, and make sure to change them if you’ve used them for more than three winter seasons.
There’s no general consensus on whether you should change your winter tires before a long trip. However, common sense will never steer you in the wrong direction.
No one likes changing a tire by the side of the road, and doing so is even less enjoyable in winter conditions. Your winter clothing may make handling the tools difficult, and snow might get in the way. So, it’s best to think ahead.
Check your tires well before your trip. That way, you’ll know their exact condition, and you’ll have enough time to change them should you need to, keeping you and your family safe on the road.
How to Prep Winter Tires Before a Road Trip
Before you leave, you’ll need to do a few things to prepare your vehicle for the long trip ahead. Here are some extra tips to keep you well-prepared for the journey:
- Check the air pressure in the winter tires. All tires need to have sufficient air pressure to be able to travel long distances. If your tires deflate on the road, you may not be able to call for help, and you’ll be stuck changing a tire in the middle of nowhere. Do this a few days before you leave since you’ll then have time to change the tire if needed.
- Pack emergency tools. Tools such as a wrench will be incredibly helpful if something happens to your winter tires on the road. If you’re in a bind and need to change a tire on the way, your emergency tools will come in handy.
- Rotate your winter tires if you’ve used them for more than one season. This is good practice every year or so and will help to lengthen their lifespan.
You can go on a long road trip with winter tires, but you need to prepare first. Make sure your tires are in good condition and don’t need replacing or inflating. You’ll also need to rotate your tires if you’ve been using them for more than a year and make sure you always have a box of emergency tools (and potentially a spare tire) in case something goes wrong.
- AAA Exchange: How to Drive Safely in Winter
- Saskatchewan Professional Driver’s Handbook: The Six Primary Hazards of Winter Driving
- Rent-a-Center: Are New Tires Before a Road Trip a Good Idea?
- Canada Drives: How Long Do Winter Tires Last?
- Car Shtuff: How Many Miles Do Winter Tires Last?
- Michelin Man: How to Drive Safely In Winter
- USA Today: Taking a road trip this winter? Don’t drive off until you go through this checklist
- Click on Detroit: 5 Ways to Prep Your Tires for Your Winter Road Trip