Everything You Need to Know About Winter Tires, And Then Some
Written by DriveAxis.ca November 23, 2022
The debate over the necessity of winter tires to tackle the snowy Canadian season continues to rage, but it really shouldn’t. The simple truth is that winter tires are an absolute-must for many parts of Canada, even the balmier regions such as the Greater Toronto Area. When the snow falls in copious amounts and the roads become slick with ice, summer and all-season tires simply aren’t as effective.
That being said, it can be a pain to swap tires every few months, which is why many Canadians opt for all-seasons. For those who have decided that safety on hazardous roads is more important, here’s everything they need to know about winter tires, so they can be better prepared.
WHAT DO WINTER TIRES DO?
Simply put, winter tires are specially designed to work optimally under colder temperatures, and have the correct tread necessary to effect massive amounts of stopping power, even on icy roads. This can shorten the amount of distance it takes to come to a complete stop, raising the chances of avoiding a nasty collision, or an unwanted hug with the nearest snowbank. This is especially advantageous during blizzards and ice storms, where drivers can easily slide through a red light at an intersection, even while traveling at very low speeds.
THE COST OF WINTER TIRES
Adding winter tires to your car means dishing out extra money, but drivers can limit the financial damage by choosing wisely. First, it’s good to invest in smaller sized tires for the winter season, as they cost a lot less than larger tires. Even if your car can handle 19” tires during the summer, it is always advisable to invest in 17” or 18” winter tires until the snow melts. If your car can handle a smaller size, go for it. The smaller and more narrow the tire, the better traction it gets in heavy snow and slick conditions.
Another factor to consider is the price difference between domestic and foreign tire brands. Certain names carry higher sticker prices depending on where they come from, their ratings, etc. However, a higher price tag does not automatically equate to a better-quality tire. Always check customer reviews to find out just how good a particular set of tires really is, otherwise you may be wasting cash for nothing. Quality isn’t always in the brand name.
TIME YOUR PURCHASE
Many people mistakenly believe that winter tires are cheaper during the summer off-season, but that’s rarely the case. In fact, many of the best deals can be found in late fall, just before the winter season begins, or halfway through the winter season. This is typically due to increased competition between vendors who are trying to attract customers. A wise practice is to buy winter tires during this time of year, especially if your current set is worn down, and will not make it to the next winter season. Buying proactively can drastically cut down on the price of the tires, and save you a bundle in time for next season.
INVEST IN A SECOND SET OF RIMS
It’s never a good idea to swap tires twice per year on the same set of rims. Doing so increases the risk of damage to the rims, and unnecessary stress and wear on the tires. Ideally, you want to peel rubber off a rim only when it has worn down to the point where it needs replacement. For this reason, many drivers opt to invest in a second set of rims, which is ideal.
Though the upfront cost for the extra rims might seem steep, it can save thousands over the course of just a few years. First, it costs much more to take summer tires off of a rim, and put on winters. Conversely, it’s much easier to take the wheels right off the car, and slap on the winter set. You’ll spend much less time at the mechanic’s shop or dealership, and your bill will be a fraction of what it would cost to change tires on the same rims. If money is a factor, consider buying a pair of second-hand rims, even if they’re a bit beat up. Winter is a wet and dirty season anyways, which means it’s much harder to notice imperfections.
Many Canadian auto insurers will give you a discount if they know you are driving on winter tires, and the reason is obvious. The more you can safeguard yourself against an accident, the more reassured your insurer will be. With all of the benefits mentioned above, it really is the best approach, blending your own personal safety with a lot of cost-savings thrown in for good measure.
If you’re on the fence about buying winter tires for your car, then don’t be. It’s true that some cars, especially AWD or FWD cars have an easier time in the snow as opposed to RWD cars, but the risks are still there. It’s far better to marry a good set of winter tires to your car’s drivetrain in order to feel safe, secure and reassured while on the road. Just be mindful of other drivers who may have chosen to omit winter tires for their own vehicles!
DriveAxis.ca has thousands of vehicles to choose from, many of which are excellent for the Canadian winter season. We’ll help you choose the right one that matches your budget, lifestyle and family situation, so you can feel confident when things get snowy and icy. Just don’t forget to add on a pair of winter tires to protect your investment, your own health, and your loved ones!