What You Need to Know About Winter Tires

Temperatures are dropping, snow is coming and experts are heralding safe winter driving, specifically installing a proper set of winter tires.

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Driving in winter conditions

Transport Canada recommends winter tires over all-season tires for driving in cold, snowy or icy conditions. Therefore making sure your car is winter ready at this time of year is important for anyone planning to hit the road in Canada or North America. Recently to help you be that bit safer during this time of year we listed our Top Tips for Winter Driving which you can check out here. Outside of this list the best thing any driver can do is ensure their vehicle has some top quality winter tires to ensure safety on the roads. Did you know that since January 2016, Ontario driver with winter tires are offered discounts with private insurers? That’s just how important having the right set of tires is at this time of year. So what do you need to know before you invest in a set of new winter shoes for your vehicle?

They’re more flexible in colder climates

The rubber compound found in winter tires is completely different to that of all-season tires. The softer more flexible compound allows the tires to remain flexible below 7 C, whereas a standard tire, the rubber will get hard and inflexible at the same temperature. This means that that all-season tire won’t get the same level of traction in this type of condition.

Basically, you will notice the difference between a winter and all-season tire. Some people may think the difference is marginal but it’s really not, grip, traction and stopping distance are improved by using the right tire in the right conditions.

Bigger, thicker treads

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Snow tires in action

A good winter tire also has a deeper and thicker tread than any all-season tire. This thicker thread gives your car more grip on the road, allowing you as a driver to have more control while driving in winter conditions.

How long should they be on for?

In Quebec, local law states that all vehicles are to be equipped with winter tires from December 15 until March. While this is a legal requirement we always will air on the side of caution and experts recommend having your winter tires ready from November onwards, better safe than sorry right?

Planning here is key as in December there is always a crazy rush, some people may forget until the first snow has fallen and then panic is sure to set in. Be ahead of the game and be ready for the winter season by looking after your vehicle before the heavy snow starts to fall.

it’s also important to remember to get the winter tires off when the time is right, going to early means driving on a normal tire in snowy conditions but too late means the softer rubber compound of the winter tire will be eaten up by the hotter roads. Our best advice here is to get your winter tires removed as soon as the snow is gone from the road in order to preserve the tires. 

Install in sets of 4

When getting winter tires installed it’s important to ensure the best control and stability possible. That’s why you should always get the tires done in complete sets. This will help improve handling and braking in the icy conditions. Also, we recommend that you avoid mixing treads patterns, sizes and internal construction, essentially buy a complete set and not two different types of tire for the best results.

Meet industry standards

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Peaked mountain stamp of approval

When investing in winter tires you want to ensure you are getting something that meets industry standards. To do this just look for tires embossed with a picture of a peaked mountain with a snowflake. This symbol ensures that your tire meets industry standards and that they have been specifically designed for use in severe snow conditions.

Grip to the back

Even on a four-wheel drive, you should always put the “grippier” tires to the rear of the vehicle. This will help with stability to make sure that you won’t spin out on the road.

Mounting

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Installing winter tires – photo credit fountaintire.com

This might sound basic but it’s always good advice to follow. Make sure your tires are mounted on the correct side. Many people aren’t aware that they are designed to spin in one direction only. Look on the sidewall of the car, there will be an arrow there which will let you know the spinning direction so that you can always make sure your tires are correctly installed.

Air pressure

And last but not least, remember to keep an eye on air pressure! As the temperature drops, tire pressure will decrease. Transport Canada tells us that we should be checking out air pressure at least once a month during the cold season. It’s best to check the pressure first thing in the morning when the tires are cold and the car has been out all night.

And there you have it, everything you need to know about winter tires. If you need more information we recommend having a discussion with your local tire centre who will be able to direct you towards the best tires for you. Drive Safe!