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We bundle ourselves up in winter coats, turn on the fireplaces in our homes – but what about our vehicles?
There are a few things you should do to ready your car for winter, including installing winter tires. If you haven’t switched out your all-season tires for winter ones, now is the perfect time to do so. But how much do we really know about this winter car necessity?
From why you need them, to when you should install them, here are 7 key facts to know about those all-important accessories for the chilly season in Canada: winter tires.
1. They’re Specifically Designed for Winter Driving Conditions
If you have all-season tires, you might be asking yourself why winter tires are even necessary. The fact of the matter is, winter tires are designed specifically to perform in ice, snow, slush, and low temperatures. Although all-season tires may be ideal for a variety of driving conditions, such as wet roads and light snowfall, they simply aren’t equipped for harsh Canadian winters – despite what the name suggests. That’s why, when the chilly season approaches, it’s vital that you switch them out for those sturdy winter variants.
2. Tread is Important
Winter tires are equipped with a special single-directional tread pattern that actually pushes away snow and ice. They also have a deeper tread depth than their all-season counterparts, for better performance in snowy road conditions. Winter tires are also made with special compounds that can withstand extreme low temperatures. All-season tires, on the other hand, are made using a closed tread pattern that is made for gripping roads and pushing away water through the spring, summer, and fall.
3. You Should Check Their Pressure Regularly
It’s important to check your winter tire pressure on a regular basis. As temperatures drop, the pressure in your tires will decrease – ensuring that your winter tires have the right amount of pressure will extend their tread life, reduce fuel consumption, and keep you and your passengers safe on the road.
Transport Canada recommends checking your tire pressure at least once a month. Use our guide on winter tire pressure for a step-by-step walk-through on how to properly check your tire pressure.
4. You Need to Switch Out All Four Tires, Not Just Two
Regardless whether you have all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, or rear-wheel drive, you must install all four winter tires – not just two. Switching out only the front, or back set of tires with winter variants may seem like a budget-friendly alternative to switching out all four tires – this is not only inefficient, but is very dangerous as well. Outfitting only the front or back of your vehicle with winter tires will not give you proper handling and control, as all four tires will not be working together properly. If you only outfit your car with two winter tires, you run the risk of your vehicle spinning out of control, and that is a risk no driver should take.
5. Price Doesn’t Always Equal Quality
To help you find the right winter tires for your vehicle and budget, Protégez-Vous (in French only) has released a list of the top winter tire models. It may come as a surprise that winter tire prices are usually comparable to all-season tires.
6. You Should Replace Them Regularly
How often should you replace your winter tires? When your tires’ tread has worn to 6/32nds of an inch, it’s time to get them replaced.
In order for winter tires to perform effectively on snowy roads, their tread should not be worn past 6/32″. At this point, your tires’ ability to keep their traction on icy and snowy roads is greatly reduced. When tread depth reaches 2/32″ your vehicle will have none, or very little, traction in the snow.
For a quick overview of winter tires, all-season tires, three-season tires, and the differences between them, refer to the chart below:
|Best Performance||temperatures below & above 7°C||temperatures above 7°C||temperatures below 7°C|
|Weather Conditions||mild winter weather, heavy rain, slush, light snow||mild wet weather, warm and dry conditions||harsh winter weather, ice, snow|
|Tread Pattern||includes slotted shoulders, traction edges, and sipes (little slits in tread blocks)||rib-patterned tread design, no sipes||open, unidirectional tread design, with v-grooves and sipes|
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.
In Quebec, Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. In Ontario and Alberta, Desjardins Insurance refers to Certas Direct Insurance Company, underwriter of automobile and property insurance.