Tires in Extreme Cold

HI - I live in frigid NE MN. It hit 25 below last night, and will do so again several times before spring. I’m in a new house this year and I haven’t built a garage yet. No block heater, either! But the 99 Toyota starts fine. I’m more worried about my tires. Local lore says that if you don’t drive on your tires every day they can become mishapen due to freezing and will blow. Is this true? Will tires explode or do any other scary thing in extreme cold? Anything I should be watching out for? OK to go from morning start to highway driving on tires exposed to extremely cold temperatures?

The tires rolling resistance becomes greater, they become “stiffer”…Also, they will loose air much more quickly…They become more porous. Check the pressure every two weeks when it’s really cold…Many tires, especially high-performance tires, have a nylon bonding belt in addition to the steel belts under the tread. You may notice the tires thumping in the morning if they have any nylon cord in them… But no, they won’t blow…

Yea, to a very minor amount you may get a little flat spot, but it will come out of that in a mile or two. Normally it will never be noticed. Follow Caddyman’s advice.

No, your tires won’t “blow”–unless they are severely under-inflated.
If your tires were originally inflated to the recommended pressure listed on the driver’s door jamb while the temperature was moderate, they are now many psi under the recommended pressure.

That is why I begin the winter with at least 3-4 psi OVER the recommended pressure. That way, even a really big dip in temperature will not leave them severely under-inflated. And still, I tend to re-check their pressure every few weeks, just to be sure.

If you have a tire pressure gauge, you should use it to check and correct the pressure in those tires.
If you don’t have a gauge, you need to get one.

Just make sure the tires are properly inflated. They will lose pressure as the temperature drops, and under-inflated tires are dangerous.

Perhaps that explains the otherwise unexplainable local lore.

As long as your tires are properly inflated you have nothing to worry about. They won’t “blow” just because it’s cold outside.

Your tires will warm up gradually as you drive down the pavement. It is not a sudden thing.

The one HUGE thing to watch for is your traction level if they are all-season is the tread compound becomes extremely stiff in colder air. There is a significant drop in traction level with all-seasons not only on winter surfaces but on dry pavement. Just be weary of this but most normal driving a non-issue.

This is where winter tires are superior even on dry surfaces, the tread compound is optimized for temps below 45F.

Older tires did develop flat spots from sitting in the cold, but I have not heard a thump from sitting in the cold weather since the 70’s. We have had a few reports of them here, but definitely not in the majority.

Is anyone else in NE MN doing anything different?

Just keep them properly inflated and you won’t have any problems. If there were issues related to extreme cold I’m sure you would have heard about them…

Thank you, all!