How much do you know about winter tires?

Winter Tires

This post was prepared by our preferred partners, The Personal Insurance Company.

With the Ontario government’s requirement that insurers now offer discounts to customers who install winter tires, readers may be wondering how the discounts work and whether winter tires are really necessary.

The Personal Insurance Company is one of the few insurers in Ontario to have provided a winter tire discount years before the new regulation. The discount is 5% (some are only offering 3%), it can be applied mid-term (some are only providing the discount at renewal), and the discount applies for the full year.

The Personal began offering the discounts almost a decade ago for the simple reason that installing winter tires can greatly improve driver safety. Here are some key facts about 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 – anything below 7 degrees Celsius. All-season tires simply aren’t equipped for harsh Canadian winters. Numerous studies have shown that it takes far longer to stop in winter conditions with all-season than with winter tires, regardless if the vehicle is all wheel drive. And that could make all the difference in avoiding a serious accident.

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, allowing better performance in snowy road conditions. Winter tires are also made with special compounds that can withstand extreme low temperatures. All-season tires become brittle in cold temperatures and are made using a closed tread pattern that is better suited for gripping asphalt and pushing away water through the spring, summer and fall.

3. You Need to Switch 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 is not only inefficient, but is very dangerous as well. 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.

4. Take Them Off in the Summer

Winter tires lose grip as the temperatures climb above +7 C. Just as all-seasons wear tread faster in winter, winter tires wear faster in summer. The heat in the summer basically causes winter tires to break down and become greasy, loosing their ability to grip the road, which could be dangerous.

5. What About the New “All Weather” Tires?

All-weather tires are an excellent choice in many areas of Canada, like southern Ontario. They’re designed for year-round use and deliver the safety of a winter tire with the stability and handling of a summer tire. They also eliminate the hassle and cost of storing and maintaining a second set of tires. Just be sure that your tires have the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol (also referred to as the ‘Alpine’ symbol) on the sidewall, indicating the tires have been designed specifically for use in severe snow conditions.


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