Fall is in full effect here in Ontario, and it will not be long before our roads are covered in snow and ice. Tire sales are going crazy, and garages everywhere are busy changing over their customer’s tires. We will try to answer the most common questions we hear this time of year.
Do I really need summer and winter tires? Wouldn’t a good quality all season tire suffice?
Unfortunately, all season tires should really be called 3 season tires. The tire tread designs and compounds of an all season tire are engineered to provide extended mileage and durability under the summer’s sun. They are less effective on snow and ice, or in winter’s freezing temperatures. The tread designs and tread compounds of winter tires work much better in the freezing temperatures and in snow and ice. A study by Transport Canada concluded that all-season tires are less effective when temperatures drop below -10C.
A study by the Quebec Ministry of Transport found that a proper winter tire can improve braking up to 25% over an all-season radial tire, and can improve collision avoidance by almost 38%. Not only that, but most auto insurance companies offer a lower rate if you have winter tires.
Do I need to buy a set of wheels, or can I just swap my summer and winter tires?
You can just swap the tires, but there are a few reasons why having another set of wheels is a better idea. Mounting tires on the rim, and taking them off, is hard on the tire itself. If they can be mounted on a set of wheels, and left on, it is much better for the tire. It will also save you money in the long run, as it is cheaper to swap all of your wheels each season than it is to mount and balance each tire. For example, we charge $72 (plus tax) to mount and balance 4 tires, where as a 4 tire swap is $28 (plus tax).
What kind of wheel is better, steel or alloy, for winter tires?
Steel wheels are the better choice for winter tires, as they are less susceptible to corrosion. They are also cheaper than alloy wheels.
We recommend checking your tire pressure at least once a month, as tire pressures will decrease as temperatures drop. Under inflated tires greatly increase braking distances and can dramatically affect steering and handling, as well as tread life.
Tires should be stored in an indoor location such as your basement or a shed. Leaving tires outside subjects them to nature’s elements. The sun’s ultraviolet rays will shorten tire life. Rain and other weather elements will also accelerate tire degradation.