Benefits of Winter TiresBuying Tips & Tricks March 05, 2021
All-Season Vs. Winter Tires
When winter driving comes up, no topic is quite as prominent as winter tires. There are people on both sides of this debate, but often the facts get left in the dust. Many Canadians forgo the tire changeover when the snow hits the ground, but let's take a look at the facts and decide if those tires are worth the extra money.
All-season Isn’t Really All Seasons
You’d think hearing the term "all-season" means these tires would be able to tackle anything the weather throws at it, regardless of the season. While it’s not all wrong, they really run into issues when the weather gets too cold and the conditions fall as far as they do in Canada. All-season tires are starting to be referred to as 3 season tires by some companies to more accurately reflect the time when they are most effective.
All-season tires often have straight grooves, less aggressive tread, and a harder rubber compound. The grooves are meant to dispel water and grip the road in the warmer months. Below 7 degrees they start to lose effectiveness as the rubber compound starts to harden too much to be effective anymore. They really aren’t ideal once the snowy and icy conditions hit the roads.
Winter Tires For The Winter Season
As you can guess by the name, winter tires are built specifically for the winter months. They have a large, blocky, and aggressive tread with a softer rubber compound that holds its composure in the colder weather. While they do great in the winter, they don’t do so well in the warmer months, with the rubber being most effective at temperatures below 7 degrees. With the tread and rubber compound, they are designed to hold grip as best as they can when snow covers the road and the temperature drops too far for other tires to hold their integrity.
While in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba it’s your choice to use your own judgment, some provinces have mandated that winter tires are required by law. Quebec famously was the first to pass a law stating all vehicles on the road from December 15th to March 15th must have winter tires in order to be legal on the road. While not the same, British Columbia has a law mandating certain types of tires on certain highways, depending on the conditions that frequent those highways in the harsher months.
Currently, it’s up to you which you want to employ, but the facts say that winter tires are the better choice. Whether they’re worth the price is up to you, with many of them coming up to almost $1,000 per tire it can be quite a price jump, not to mention the hassle of storing them and having your tires swapped over twice a year. If you want to be as safe and prepared as you can on the road, winter tires are definitely the best option to go with.