Just like the changing of the guard, you can pretty much set your clock to tire-changing time. Well, at least your calendar. There are two things for certain in life – death and taxes. In Canada, there are three; you can add snow to the list. And when the snow flies is not the time to change your tires from summer to winter. It’s before the snow makes its unwelcomed annual debut that you should have already done that. If you are the ‘all season’ tire type, I wish you luck and/or encourage you to read on. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of helplessness as you slide off the road and into a ditch. Simply put, winter tires are a better choice for the long white season. They are a safer option that leaves you, the driver, more comfortable behind the wheel. All cargo is precious (the contents of drug mules notwithstanding) and winter tires leave them feeling all secure and snuggled. Soldiering on.
Some people will tell you to change to winter tires by a certain date. November first, they’ll say, is the day to put the snow tires on. That’s all fine and well if the flakes start falling shortly thereafter and don’t let up until spring. But Mother nature is a mad scientist, and she’ll use every trick in her crazy lab to mess with you. It’s her thing. Maybe she drops an early winter storm on us in the middle of October. Your November first ritual won’t do you much good then. And if nice fall weather extends toward December, you’ve got to listen to the sweet sound of winter tires on the dry road for a month, not to mention the wear your tires endure because of your ‘early bird gets the worm’ mentality. The only birds and worms in this scenario are roadkill and rubber.
So when is the best time to get on the tire-changin’ train? Well, it has more to do with space than time. Specifically, temperature. Once average daily readings drop below 7 degrees Celsius (that’s 45 in freedom units), it’s probably a good time to ‘all aboard’ it to Wintersville. It won’t be long before the precipitation coming from the sky is no longer of the transparent variety.
The question now becomes who’s going to do it. You have a trusted mechanic? Great. Take it to any one of a dozen lube, oil, and filter outfits? OK. Do it yourself? Good, but dirty. The best option is to have that friend or friend of a friend. He’s (yes, or she’s) the one with all the tools, all the know-how. And he is probably just a decent guy who likes to lend a hand. Nothing wrong with that. Show up with coffee and donuts and you’re golden. Sure, do some of the grunt work, but hands off during the technical stuff if you care about your fingers. Machines that require an air compressor are to be given a wide, wide berth. And when the car is being jacked up, you keep your toes and the rest of you at least arm’s length. The longer your arm is, the better. When you’re done, you bag your rubber up (odd), throw it in the trunk, and make a plan to get together again soon, probably in the spring to change the tires again. Sometimes a gift car goes a long way toward getting the next appointment. Oh, and take the empty coffee cups with you.
Maybe you’ve got no car, or maybe driving is way in the rearview mirror for you. No problem. If you’re a senior and you need a lift, there are people out there just your speed. Sit back, relax, and let someone else do the driving.
In the meantime, keep an eye on the weather. As the sky greys and the mercury plummets (do they even make those thermometers anymore?), get ready to slap the winter tires on.