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How does cold weather affect your tires?
  • 20 September, 2022
  • /
  • Marion Smith

How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Tires?

Winter is coming, and you need to be prepared if the cold temperatures put your vehicle's safety at risk. Have you ever heard that low temperatures can affect your vehicle’s performance? Yes, you heard it right!

In this post, you will learn how cold weather affects your tires and what precautions you should take to protect them during the winter season. And, in the end, you will find the most frequently asked questions about the tires during winter conditions.

What happens to tires when it's cold?

Freezing temperatures cause severe issues for your vehicle. Your car's engine, battery, and other systems must warm up before operating at their normal levels.

The same goes for your tires. Normally during cold weather tires require more pressure to keep them in good shape. If you do not consider this when you drive in cold weather, you may end up with flat tires or blowouts neither of which is a pleasant experience. Here are five ways freezing temperatures may affect your tires.

Pressure Decreases

Let’s start with the scientific fact; when the temperature drops, air molecules move slowly and congregate. Air molecules move quickly and apart from one another when the temperature rises. This causes your tires to lose pressure as the air inside them freezes during the night, making them harder to inflate when you wake up.

Pressure changes with temperature. For every 10° Fahrenheit decrease in temperature, the air pressure inside the tire can lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) to 2 psi. As cold temperatures frequently result in low tire pressure, which can lead to hazardous driving circumstances. Pressure loss can lead to uneven tire wear and even blowouts.

However, If you live in an area that regularly experiences cold temperatures, invests in a tire inflator that automatically compensates for temperature changes. Then, you do not have to worry about this problem.

Wear and Tear

Tires naturally wear down over time due to friction with the road surface and other factors like sunlight exposure or cracking due to age. However, frigid weather accelerates this process.

It is because rubber becomes stiffer in subfreezing temperatures. Ultimately, it puts more stress on the treads and sidewalls. Especially, when they roll over road imperfections like potholes or cracks in the pavement.

It's best not to drive on winter tires until they have warmed up sufficiently after being parked overnight at home or work in sub-freezing conditions.

Noise and Vibration

It is noteworthy to explain that rubber tires get stiffer in freezing temperatures, but how will you know? When you start your car in the morning, you may hear extra noise from your tires. If the temperature drops, this noise might get worse because the rubber will become even stiffer as time goes on.

This makes them more prone to noise and vibration when you drive over bumps or potholes in the road. It can also cause wear on the tread surface of your tires if you go too fast in cold weather.

Handling Problems

Handling problems are another potential issue. Tires that are too cold can experience increased rolling resistance. Eventually, it makes them less responsive to steering inputs from the driver.

Swerving or cornering at high speeds is more difficult when you have an insufficient grip on your tires (significantly if they're underinflated).

Moreover, tires will have a hard time gripping the asphalt when it's cold out. We recommend waiting until your car has warmed up before driving in winter conditions for this reason alone.

Tire’s Durability

A tire's durability is affected by the temperature it is exposed to during its life cycle. The colder the temperature, the quicker the tire wears out on the road surface due to its lessened flexibility.

Also, it does increase its rolling resistance and accelerates tread wear. That is why you should replace your tires every six years, even if they do not show signs of wear.


You may not know it, but winter is an entirely different beast than summer. In the fall and spring, you may spend a lot of time in a climate-controlled car. Frigid temperatures can wreak havoc on your tires. Understanding how hard temperatures affect your tires will help you avoid dangerous and costly blowouts.

Learn more about the best all-season tires during winter conditions. Feel free to contact us and get help from our experts at Wheel Synergy. Please check the FAQ section below to find out more about how cold weather affects your tires.

“The colder the temperature, the harder the tire compound becomes, making your tires hard and brittle."


Can cold weather mess up your tires?

Yes, having low temperatures can cause:

  • Increase stopping(braking) distance
  • Skid more easily on wet/slick surfaces
  • Reduce gas efficiency
  • The lifespan of the tire decreases
  • Your vehicle becomes less responsive

Should you overinflate tires in winter?

No, it's not a smart idea to overinflate your tires just because it's getting cold outside. However, for optimal performance, your tires should be inflated to the manufacturer’s suggested level.

Do I need to put air in my tires when it's cold?

Yes, in cold weather you usually need to inflate your tires. Cold air is denser than warm air, so there's less space between molecules in the atmosphere when it's cold outside.

Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage?

Yes, for every 1 psi drop in tire pressure, your car's fuel efficiency might decrease by as much as 0.2%. However, by maintaining your tires at the recommended pressure, you can increase your car's fuel efficiency by up to 3%.

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