As summer begins to wind down, it’s time to start thinking about prepping your car for the upcoming seasons. Although we won’t see snow just yet, it’s important to get the equipment you need ahead of time, especially your winter tires, so you’re ready for that first snowfall.
What Are Winter Tires?
As the name suggests, winter tires, also known as snow tires, are built with extreme winter temperatures in mind. Unlike other tires, the compound in winter tires is formulated so they can remain flexible in the cold. With deep, single-directional tread patterns, they provide extra traction on snow, ice, and slush to prevent excessive sliding.
Winter tires alone can’t guarantee you a perfect grip on the road. The severity of the weather and the way you drive also play a part, but having proper tires can make it much easier to navigate snowy roads.
For more details on the difference between all-season, all-weather, and winter tires, check out this article.
Do I Need Snow Tires?
Depending on where you live, you might wonder if it’s necessary to switch your tires throughout the year. In Québec and British Columbia, you’re required by law to use snow tires during the winter months. While there’s currently no law that you must use winter tires in Ontario, the provincial government highly recommends it.
If you haven’t used winter tires before, you’ll likely notice an immediate difference the next time you drive in the snow. In 2020, Trac Canada released a study showing that out of a sample of 1,523 Canadian drivers, 81% felt that owning winter tires saved them from a potential accident on the road.
Some Canadians choose to use all-season tires year-round, but having two sets (and making one of them a winter pair) can not only make your driving experience safer, but can make your tires last longer.
When to Order
If you don’t already own a set of winter tires, you should be able to find a full selection at your local warehouse by the end of August or the beginning of September. This is when stores will have the most availability, so it’s wise to get your tires early. Start checking in late August to know what options are available near you. If you wait too long, even until October, you risk having a much smaller range to choose from.
Choosing a brand of winter tire is mainly a matter of individual preference. You can research online forums where people with the same car model share their winter tire recommendations. As long as there’s a symbol of a mountain with a snowflake inside it printed on the tire, it’s a certified winter tire.
When to Switch
After ordering, make sure you get your winter tires on before the first snowfall and before the weather reaches winter temperatures. You don’t want to put winter tires on too early, however, because they’ll worsen your fuel efficiency.
Trac Canada recommends switching your tires when the temperature first drops below 7°C. In Ontario, most people will make the switch in October or November. You can call your local garage to schedule an appointment to have your tires changed. The demand for this service is always high, so you may need to request an appointment several weeks in advance. If you’re a DIY fan, you can learn to change your tires yourself.
Whatever car you drive and tires you choose, always take extra care when driving in winter temperatures to arrive safely at every destination.