Before we can talk about winter tires, we need to debunk this common tire myth: you don’t need winter tires if you have a good set of all seasons. For Canadian drivers, it’s important to know that all season tires aren’t designed to perform well in winter driving conditions - even city driving.
What makes winter tires better than all season tires? You may be surprised to learn that it's not the snow on the road that impacts performance of tires, it’s the temperature. Below seven degrees Celsius, the rubber in all-season tires starts to become rigid, like a frozen hockey puck.
Turning and braking become less responsive, and just like a puck, hard tires slide easily on ice. Winter tires provide safer turning and braking performance because the rubber used in winter tires is different. It’s designed to stay pliable in cold temperatures, allowing tires to grip the road. Some formulations even contain ‘bite particles’ such as silica which give the tires extra grit on slippery surfaces.
Besides being sticky, winter tires also have specially-designed treads that prevent them from sliding on snow and ice. Channels direct slush from under the tires, and deep tread blocks provide multiple edges that cut into the snow. Did you know that the best traction is snow-on-snow? It’s true! That’s why winter treads are designed with special grooves that hold a small amount of snow on the tires. Finally, sipes are the narrow, zig-zag cuts in the tread. Sipes increase the overall surface area of the tire, which increases traction and control.
If you live in Canada, chances are you will see the thermometer dip well below seven Celsius, making winter tires a safety necessity. In the spring, when the temperature starts to stay above seven degrees, swap that winter set for all seasons or summer tires. Winter tires wear very quickly in warmer weather, and studies have shown they have poor control and braking performance. While two sets of tires may seem like a daunting investment, both sets will last longer, saving you money in the long run!
Whatever the season, the tire experts at Mr. Lube can help you find the right tire model for your vehicle from Goodyear, Firestone, Michelin, Bridgestone and more. We are certified by the Tire Industry Association and our trained technicians provide full tire service from inspect and repair, installation and balancing. Services vary by location - click here to find the Mr. Lube tire team near you.