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Do You Really Need Winter Tires for Your Vehicle?

Winter tires

It’s that time of year when you’ll start hearing and seeing the ‘hard sell’ ads for winter tires. But once you hear the price, you start to have second thoughts. Do you really need winter tires?

Some people swear by winter tires – especially for a tough, Canadian winter. Others believe that all-season tires are just fine, especially if your vehicle is four-wheel drive. The truth may be a little more complicated.

What are the Legal Requirements?

Only one province, Quebec, requires that vehicles are fitted with winter tires. The legal dates are December 15 through March 15. In the rest of Canada, there is no legal requirement. However, Ontario does require that insurance companies give a discount to customers who install winter tires. These reductions can be as much as 5% and are generally significantly more than the cost of switching tires.

Are All Season Tires Good Enough?

The answer is: It depends. All season tires are good if you are driving in relatively sheltered places or for urban use only, or if you are in a position where you can always wait for the plow to come through. However, the rubber in all-season tires gets harder at about 7C, significantly reducing grip.

Manufacturers also tend to sacrifice low temperature grip in favor of durability. Consumer tests consistently show that winter tires offer better grip when braking and starting. Winter tires do sometimes give lower performance on cleared roads and because of the softer compound used to improve low temperature grip tend not to last as long as summer or all season tires.

If you do decide on getting winter tires, always put winter tires on all four wheels (not just on two). Replace all four at the same time. They should last three to four seasons, depending on your driving pattern and the weather.

When Should You Switch?

Your insurance company’s discount is probably associated with specific dates. However, it’s generally recommended in Ontario to switch to winter tires in October. Waiting until the last minute can result in long lines and possibly a tire shortage. You should switch back in March and April, depending on the weather. Look at the long-term forecast, and bear in mind it is best to wait a little more. However, you should not stay in winter tires all summer as they show a significant risk increase in warmer weather.

If you don’t like the looks of the weather forecast and decide you are getting winter tires (and your financial forecast didn’t call for it), drop one of our retail locations for a payday loan – or visit us online.