Buying winter tires for your vehicle is a major investment - but in this country, a necessary one.
So as you stand there, in front of a wall of rubber, reading seemingly random numbers and statistics on little tags - how do you know how to choose the right ones?
First, it is important to know that winter tires can be split into three major groups: Performance, Studless Ice/Snow, and Studded Winter tires. Please be sure to check any provincial or territorial legislation - as well as city bylaws - before purchasing studded winter tires - they are often forbidden in large urban centers as they may damage the roads.
1. Performance Tires
Performance tires are for city slickers - specifically cities that don't experience a large amount of snowfall. They work best for motorists who drive on wet or dry pavement about the same amount of KMs as they drive on ice or snow. While they are one-step above all-season tires (or three season as we like to say) they do sacrifice traction to provide better handling on dry roads.
2. Studless Winter Tires
For most people reading this, these are the tires you want. These tires are great for Canadian cities that experience moderate to heavy snowfall. Roads that may have lingering snow, slush or ice for weeks at a time. They don't handle quite as well on dry roads - but how often are the roads around here dry?
3. Studded Winter Tires
These are the big guns. You more than likely will not need these - unless you live in the back country where roads are not plowed on a regular basis. Those are probably also the only communities who allow them. So although they look pretty darn cool - you can skip the studs this time.
Now that we have that out of the way - some tips!
1. Buy 4 matching tires.
I am always hearing people trying to cut corners and only buy two FRONT winter tires. Their reasoning is that your front tires take the brunt of the braking and need the most traction - but let me tell you, when you are in a skid, you need traction on ALL your tires.
2. Don't forget the WARRANTY!
Yes! Your tires can come with a warranty - with such a huge expense you want to feel confident in your purchase. A good quality tire manufacturer or retailer will stand by their product.
3. Tread pattern
Many people look at the tread on tires and just think the bigger/deeper the better. In reality, what we have to consider is how the tire deals with the snow it comes into contact with. Tires the EJECT the snow (usually the wider grooves) are a no go. You want your tires to pack the snow in, while leaving the tread exposed to the road. Ask your tire retailer which would be best.
4. BUY RIMS!
When you buy your next set of snow tires - buy rims! Having your tires already on rims cuts down on time, and cost in the long run - plus then GoWrench can come swap them right in your driveway!