What to Consider When Buying Tires

by Lori Straus

Tires have come a long way from the wooden wheels used on wagons in centuries past. And aren’t we grateful for that? But not all tires are created equal. In this blog post, we’ll quickly drive you through (pardon the pun) what you need to consider when buying your next set of tires.

Evaluate Your Driving Needs

Do you drive all year round, come rain, come shine, come snow, come sleet? Do you commute an hour in each direction, five days a week? Or do you work from home and drive your car mostly for groceries, appointments, and to visit friends and family?

If you drive your car locally maybe only a few days a week and live in a relatively temperate area, e.g., like the Greater Toronto Area, buying one set of all-weather tires may be sufficient. However, if you commute daily and have additional family driving duties in the evening, or live in Northern Ontario, where the snow lands in the fall and stays well into the spring, buying a set each of all-season and winter tires will actually help each set last longer than if you purchased one set and used them all year, every year until they died.

In addition, your winter commutes will be much safer with winter tires than all-weather tires. We’ll explain why in a moment.

All-Season vs. All-Weather Tires

We’ll admit, whoever created these two labels for tires muddied the waters of consumer clarity when it comes to understanding tires. After all, if tires can be driven in all seasons, shouldn’t they be sufficient in all types of weather?

Actually, all-season tires are more accurately referred to as 3-season tires. (We know, obviously not all-season if they’re only good in three seasons.) The rubber compounds used in them are most effective in temperatures above +7˚C. Once temperatures drop below that, the rubber hardens and becomes brittle. This causes the tires to lose their grip.

Then you spin out and crash.

All-weather tires on the other hand are manufactured from a rubber compound mixed to withstand temperatures above and below +7˚C. They neither wear out from too much use in the summer nor turn brittle in colder Ontario winters.

Why Are Winter Tires Necessary?

Winter tires are manufactured from a rubber compound that remains supple below +7˚C and differ from all-weather tires in the tread. Whereas all-weather tires have a tread that splits its surface area between rainy conditions on one side and snowy, slushy, and icy conditions on the other, winter tires have treads devoted entirely to snowy, slushy, and icy conditions. According to Kaltire, cars with all-weather and winter tires brake the same in the winter, but cars with winter tires corner better than cars with all-weathers do.

When Buying Tires, Keep Safety Top of Mind

Remember that tires are about safety: not only yours but also that of every other person on the road, including pedestrians. Properly maintain your tires, including having your wheels balanced, and buy tires suitable for the driving conditions they’re expected to be used in. Keeping these guidelines in mind when buying your next set of tires will simplify the task and can help you drive more safely.