Those pagans really knew a thing or two on how to throw a party come springtime. Summer solstice shows up, and they’re out there sacrificing left, right and centre, staying up all night pondering the constellations, and hauling huge rocks around to make Stonehenge-like structures ... just generally having a ball.
In comparison, modern Western societies are a bit more muted in their spring rituals. The big ones in our neighbourhood are taking the Christmas lights down, and sweeping the porch.
But if you have a car, you’re in luck, because car spring rituals have a bit more party mode about them. And nothing is more symbolic and uplifting than doing that divine swap — taking the winter tires off, and replacing them with the summer ones.
So here’s a brief checklist to keep in mind, at that joyous, tire changeover time.
First off, hopefully you’ve got each set of tires (winter, summer) mounted on their own set of rims. The alternative — mounting and re-mounting tires onto one rim set — can damage the tire beads.
Ideally, your summer tires should be balanced before they go back on, and then the car should be checked for alignment. If you got expensive rims and tires, you need to do this to protect your investment and get all the performance you paid for.
But if you’re on a budget, you might modify this a bit. If the tires ran fine when they came off, chances are they will run fine now. The tire installer can determine a lot just by visually inspecting the tires. If they’re not wearing unevenly, maybe you don’t need the alignment — at least until a road test proves otherwise.
Make sure your nuts are lubed with anti-seize. This makes rims so much easier to take on and off. A professional installer should do that automatically, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Same thing for tire rotation. A pro will mark each tire in chalk, which corner of the car it was last mounted, so the next installer can rotate them appropriately. But this doesn’t automatically happen all the time, so get it on the work order.
I’m pretty sure any installer will set the correct pressures of your summer tires. After that, it’s up to you to visually inspect them, at least once a month.
It’s so simple it hurts, but having the correct pressure in your tires is the best, cheapest, and most effective way of having a happy tire. And a happy tire is safer, more fuel-efficient and lasts longer than a grumpy tire.
The final issue with the winter-to-summer tire changeover is storage. Hopefully you got your winter tires back clean, and have a cool, dry place to store them. If you need to keep them in the living room, maybe throw a nice wrap over them that match the drapes.
Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.