A Beginner's Guide to Buying Winter Tires

When driving in winter, good tire traction makes it easier to accelerate, slow down and stay on the road, which leads to fewer fender-benders and close calls. Here are some tips before you buy.

Winter Tires Get a Better Grip

While all-season tires are suitable for driving in mild conditions and rain, winter tires improve handling and safety at temperatures below 7 C. This is because, below 7 C, the rubber on all-seasons stiffens, reducing traction. But winter tires are engineered to maintain malleability in frigid conditions, giving them better grip. They also have larger tread blocks, so more tire surface “bites” into the snow.

Install Four Matching Tires

Variations in tread pattern and wear can affect your vehicle’s handling. If you’re going to own your vehicle for longer than five years, one way or another, you’re going to be getting two sets of tires – the set that comes with the car and another when that set wears out. Buying a set of winter tires now can double the life of your all-seasons.

Grab an Extra Set of Wheels

A pair of black steel winter wheels will save you time and money in the long run. This is because tires that are already mounted on wheels take a shop around 15 minutes to switch, whereas a tire-only changeover takes 60 to 90 minutes. Plus, you’ll lengthen the life of your summer wheels by not exposing them to the salt, gravel and scrapes of winter.

Check Your Pressure

As the temperature drops, so does your tire pressure, so check it at least monthly (don’t forget the spare) – more if temperatures are fluctuating, since you can lose two to five PSI when temperature shifts are drastic.


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