It’s never too early in the season to start thinking about winter tires
Although many drivers believe that all-season tires are suitable for year-round driving, this notion is only true if you live in a temperate, warmer climate. If you live somewhere where it snows and temperatures drop well below 0 degrees Celsius – such as Ontario – a set of winter tires will drastically improve your safety during the coldest months.
Although it’s not completely incorrect to assume that brand new all-season tires can provide reasonable traction during the winter, research shows their performance is equivalent to half-worn snow tires. More importantly, this means that half-worn all-season tires are unsuitable for winter driving in snow and on icy roads.
Winter tires have many advantages. Let’s unpack a few.
Winter tires have superior tread patterns that are designed for traction on ice and snow, as well as softer rubber compounds which enhance grip. Therefore, when it’s cold, you can easily drive on dry pavement, snow, or slush. For this same reason, winter tires are not suitable for warm-weather driving because their softer rubber and more open tread pattern will wear rapidly. When temperatures begin to approach summer temperatures, swap them out for summer or all-season tires.
Many consumers have gravitated towards the perceived all-weather safety of crossover vehicles and SUV’s with four-wheel drive. Although these systems help your vehicle go, they do nothing to help you stop. In fact, stopping power on slippery surfaces is almost entirely dependant upon the traction provided by your tires. Remember, dedicated winter tires always outperform all-seasons in cold weather.
Key Point: Remember, winter tires are not only for snow. In fact, they work better anytime it’s cold. It’s best to think of them as winter tires
Winter Tires: Assessing the Cost
Perhaps the most common reason customers give for not buying snow tires is the cost. A complete set of winter rubber tires mounted on spare wheels often costs around $1,000. This price can be even higher for owners of high-end vehicles with large wheels. However, when compared to the cost of an insurance deductible, winter tires are almost always cheaper.
Another factor to consider is that winter tires prolong the life of your primary tires.
One way to look at it is instead of buying two sets of all-season tires over the ownership of your car, you’re buying a set of all season tires and a set of snow tires.
Don’t wait until it’s too late: It’s important to remember that snow tires are not produced year-round like all-season tires. As a result, tire retailers can run out of them — and they often do. That’s why it’s important to buy new snow tires even before the weather gets cold.
Ultimately, winter tires deliver superior braking and cornering in winter temperatures and conditions, including ice, snow, slush and even cold, dry asphalt.
The optimum grip of winter tires works best at temperatures below 7 Celsius due to their rubber compound that stays soft and flexible, as well as their aggressive tread blocks that bite snow and ice. If you live and drive in a region with cold temperatures and heavy, hard-packed snow, winter tires will provide you with the most reliable performance and safety.