Get Road Ready for WinterDec 9th, 2015
Trying to decide about winter tires? Here's some information to help you make an informed decision about winter tires, and how to have them installed.
What is the difference between all-season tires and winter tires?
All-season tires continue to provide safe all-weather performance, but may not always be suitable for a prairie winter. Snow tires have cold weather rubber compounds, channelling tread patterns, a large number of tread sipes (tiny slits in the tread blocks) for wet surface control, and the open tread block pattern for deep snow traction.
It's winter, but I don't see snow on the ground yet. Is there still a benefit to using winter tires when there is no snow?
On dry pavement, the overall performance of an all-season tire steadily declines as the temperature gets colder. The crossover point is about 7 degrees Celsius. Colder than that, a winter tire outperforms an all-season tire. Winter tire performance sharply improves as temperatures fall from 7 degrees to -30 degrees Celsius, while the all-season tire approaches the "not recommended" status.
Only two of my tires need replacing at this time. Should I replace just the two?
Transport Canada recommends that snow tires are installed in sets of four, to help maintain control and stability of your vehicle in slippery conditions. Vehicle handling is improved when identical tires are installed on all four wheels. Also, mixing tires with different tread patterns, internal construction, and size degrades the stability of the vehicle and should be avoided.
How will I know which tires are winter tires?
Winter tires bear the "mountain snowflake" symbol on the sidewall of the tire, which tells you that this tire has been tested and passes winter safety standards. To qualify for the severe snow usage symbol, winter tires must perform a minimum of 110% better than a standard tire in a mandated snow traction test. Many winter tires are actually 130-150% better, which translates to better handling and stopping.
Will winter tires help me stop in slippery conditions?
A study conducted by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) showed that a proper winter tire can improve braking up to 30 per cent over an all-season radial tire, and can improve collision avoidance by approximately 38 per cent.
Why shouldn't I keep winter tires on my car all year long?
Winter tires are designed with softer tread compounds so they can dig into snow and stick to ice at low temperatures. To get the optimal performance from the tires on your vehicle you should use the products as they are intended. While you could keep winter tires on all year, they typically have softer tread rubber and will wear out more quickly than an all-season tires.