Ahhh, winter. ‘Tis the season for snowball fights, holiday get-togethers, and white knuckles on the steering wheel as you hope and wish and pray that your car can make it up the steep, snow-covered road...! At this point, you’re probably convinced that you need winter tires (or, you’re at least strongly considering it). These are the factors you need to consider when you’re shopping for winter tires.
Tires and Rims
When you look at a tire, it’s actually composed of two main parts:
You have two options when buying winter tires: buy only the rubber tires and have them swapped onto your car’s existing rims, or buy winter tires that come with their own rims.
If you choose to purchase only the rubber tires, you can save money on the purchase but you’ll need to spend a little extra money and time getting the rubber swapped out on your rims.
If you prefer buying winter tires with their own rims, it’ll be quicker and easier to replace the tires (you might even be able to do it yourself), but you’ll need to pay extra for the rims. Plus, many newer cars are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), which use sensors in the wheels. If you have one of these cars and want to use this feature, you’ll have to pay extra for TPMS sensors in your winter tires.
Don’t wait too late into the winter season before pulling the trigger on your winter tire purchase. Most retailers only receive inventory in the autumn, so the selection of tires will become skimpier as time goes by.
The best rule of thumb is to get your tires when you notice the temperature is starting to hover around 7 C or lower, or even earlier if you want the best selection to choose from.
Look for the Logo
According to Transport Canada, to qualify as a “winter tire” in Canada, it must be labelled with the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake (“Alpine”) logo.
This symbol is almost exclusively found on winter and all-weather tires to indicate that the tire is certified to meet certain performance criteria in snow testing.
However, British Columbia's mandatory requirments include all-season M+S (mud + snow) tires too. Instead of the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake (“Alpine”) logo, you'll find the 'M+S' designation on the right all-season tire.
Each mud & snow tire must have a tread depth of 3.5mm to be considered acceptable for BC's winter roads.
If you really want to maintain traction in snowy conditions, you can look for studded snow tires. These tires feature small metal studs embedded in the rubber which help dig into the road and provide more grip, especially when the temperature is around zero C.
A few things to know about studded snow tires: they can be noisy and might damage pavement, which is why they’re prohibited in certain areas of Canada. Make sure to check your local regulations before you buy.
Should you switch to Winter Tires?
Consider these questions when you’re deciding if you should make the switch:
Blog by: www.canadadrives.ca/blog/maintenance/are-winter-tires-worth-the-money
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