Winter Tire Information

I know it may be a bit early - but if you are like me and have never purchased winter Tires previously, you might like this info. Not to mention Snow tires can be expensive (whether it is a write off or not - it is still an expense) and need to budget for them. The Storage Bag request is a must do!

Winter Tires

We regularly encounter ice, unplowed snow, or slush, so you are going to need winter tires (also known as "snow tires"). Winter tires will give you that extra traction, braking and handling you'll need to confidently drive on snow and ice. They have specialized rubber compounds and tread designs to handle the cold temperatures. The tread remains flexible to prevent snow build-up and help with traction on ice. Tests that has been conducted on ice show that even at 15mph, vehicles equipped with winter tires stopped from 1/2 to a full car length shorter than identical vehicles on all season tires. Without winter tires you are more likely to fishtail on corners and spin out on that icy hill. (and her I thought they were just to get you through that deep snow - huh?!)

ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System), traction control, and vehicle dynamics control systems are limited by the grip the tires can provide. These are all safety features you don't want to fail under emergency circumstances.

The very common misconception among SUVs and other 4WD vehicles' drivers is that a 4 wheel drive vehicle provides them with the safety measures they need when driving on the ice. This deadly misconception has no grip on reality whatsoever. A 4WD vehicle will help you get started from a full stop and will slightly help you around corners, but will certainly not help you to stop or slow down the car any faster.

A recent study conducted by the Canadian Press and Leger Marketing paints and interesting picture of winter tires usage across Canada: Québec has the highest usage at 84%, followed by Eastern Canada at 57%. Surprisingly, only 29% of Ontario drivers make use of winter tires. British Columbia is next at 28%, followed by Alberta at 22% and only 10% winter tires usage in the Prairie provinces. While still only 42% of Canadians use winter tires, the trend is unmistakable: more and more people are switching to winter tires.

Usage of All Season Tires During Winter

All Season tires are not designed to be optimal in one specific weather condition. They are meant to be adequate in all weather. To be able to handle different types of weather, compromises have to be made. The tread design of an all season tire is not as aggressive as that of a winter tire and is also not as flexible in the cold. An all season tire's tread will quickly get packed with snow and you lose traction.If you expect you will have to drive in moderate to severe snow, you should purchase a set of winter tires. Seriously, last year we didn't need them at all however, the year before that we did!! Need I say that we broke records with amounts of snowfall in one day - a few times!

Winter Tires Installation and Purchasing Tips

There are few things to keep in mind when shopping for winter tires. In most cases, you should consider purchasing separate rims for your snow tires. This will save you the time and costs involved in balancing the winter tires onto your existing rims. Typically, balancing a tire on a rim costs between $15 to $25  per wheel, and you will have to re-pay these costs once again, when switching back to your summer tires or all season tires. Alternatively, a low-cost steel rim is approximately around $80, and opting for a separate rim also gives you the opportunity to install the winter tires by yourself and at your convenience. I always wondered why there were so many under dressed Rims in the winter - it wasn't aa auto fashion faux pas, it was A SAFETY FEATURE!  So, You may decide to go even farther and purchase alloy rims to enjoy a consistent and esthetic look of your car, all year round. Purchasing a full winter package is most likely the best way to go, as balancing is provided for free on such packages. (usually - make sure you ask!)

Don't wait too long with your purchase decision as this might severely affect your mobility. Early winter storms can sometimes result in hot demand that leads to a shortage or even a complete sold out of winter tires in specific locations.

You may be wondering what is the best time to install your winter tires, and for what duration should you have them installed. This depends on our local weather. One thing is for sure, don't wait for the very last minute and have them installed beforehand. A good guideline for installing your winter tires is once the temperature is regularly 10 degrees Celsius or less, and they should be removed once the temperatures are consistently higher than 10 degrees Celsius. This will ensure that they do not wear prematurely in warmer weather, but you shouldn’t get caught by surprise.

Other than being specifically designed for extreme winter conditions, winter tires, and as is the case with all season tires or any other type of tires, have to be carefully selected to meet the technical characteristics of your vehicle. (This I did not know -  a girl could get herself into a non returnable situation by doing a click click purchase). Be sure to get acquainted with your auto's details or measurements by reading your vehicle manual (if you are lucky to have one). You should also contact a reliable expert with any question or concerns you may have.

Storing Winter Tires

The best place to store winter tires is in a cool, dry location. (Basement, or possibly a garage). You can lay them down flat, stacked on top of each other, but no taller than 4 high. This offers the most support and should eliminate any fitting problems the following fall. We also recommend that you return to the store/dealer from where you purchased your tires, and ask for storage bags. This will protect the tires from natural ozone in the air which can cause tire rubber to dry and crack. Wrap each tire individually and stack them. Stored tires should be kept away from electric motors or welders as these produce ozone which will damage the rubber over time.

Good luck with your purchase and don't wait too long...

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