Being Canadian, Winter is an unfortunate inevitability, and with it, comes the decision of whether to put on Winter tires or not.

Let’s look at some key differences between Winter, and all-season tires, how to choose the right Winter tire, as well as the best time to make the switch.

All season tires provide versatile performance through a wide variety of road conditions. They have gained popularity in recent years because they were designed to provide benefits from both Summer, and Winter tires. However, they do not provide the max performance features of tires that were specifically designed for Winter or Summer.

Winter tires are made of special rubber, that remains flexible in cold, and icy conditions, so you have improved traction.

Winter tires have a special tread depth and pattern, that is designed to reduce snow build up, channel snow and slush, and repel water; causing better traction.

There is an initial cost to purchasing Winter tires. However, when you are using your Winter tires, you are not putting wear and tear on your Summer or all season tires, extending their life considerably. Coupled with the discount that many insurance providers offer, your total cost could end up being next to nothing.

How To Pick The Right Winter Tire For You.

  • Consider the weather where you live. If you live in a moderate climate where there is little snow, and infrequent snowfall, then a good pair of all seasons, may be best for you.
  • If your vehicle has low profile, or wide tread tires, you may want to consider a different sized Winter tire. Narrower treads typically perform better in snow and icy conditions. Switching to a different tire size for Winter, will mean that you will also have to have different rims. Steel rims are the most cost-effective option. However, alloy rims are lighter, adding to fuel efficiency, and are more attractive
  • If you are installing Winter tires and rims, ensure that they are an exact fit. Terms like “will fit” and “multi fit” only mean that the wheel can be bolted on.
  • If you are purchasing used Winter tires, ensure that all 4 tires are identical, and always install them in 4s.
  • Most vehicle technicians recommend sticking with a known brand even if it costs a bit more.

When to install Winter Tires?

Ideally, you want to put Winter tires on before the first snow fall. However, you don’t want to put them on when it’s still warm. The rubber on Winter tires is soft, and will wear down faster than all seasons, or Summer tires, on warm pavement. A good general rule, is to put on Winter tires once the average temperature is around 0 and 7 degrees Celsius.

Installing Winter tires is a great choice. Not only are you improving your handling, and performance, but could also be saving someone’s life.