Why Do I Need Winter Tires?
Why are winter tires important? Well, let’s start by talking about your summer tires. Summer tires are very firm. During the warmest months of the year, the heat of the pavement and the rubber, as well as the friction between the two, causes your tires to increase in elasticity. So, to maintain a good grip, your tires must be naturally stiff.
Inversely, cold temperatures causes rubber to contract. If you use summer tires, they will become even stiffer, reducing the amount of rubber in contact with the driving surface. Less contact means less grip. On the other hand, winter tires are naturally soft and are typically inflated to a lower pressure than their summer counterparts. Despite the cold temperatures, winter tires remain pliable, and give you more surface area in contact with the road. Subsequently, you get better grip (50% better than three-seasons), shorter stopping distances, and a decreased likelihood of sliding.
All-weather tires are not the same as all-season tires. They’re best for urban areas that routinely see mild winter weather. Before you ask, a two-foot Saskatchewan blizzard is not mild winter weather. All-weather tires don’t perform very well on ice or snow packed snow. However, they are very competent for fresh, light snow; rain, and dry pavement. Consequently, all-weather tires have become popular tires for urbanites to use throughout the entire year. They are much more effective in winter than three-season tires. However, they will not outperform winter-specific tires.
When do I need winter tires?
Winter tires aren’t just for snow. They perform much better on dry pavement in cold temperatures, too. How cold? Well, according to the Canadian Tire and Rubber Association (which exists for reasons I can’t fathom), you should switch to winter tires when the temperature dips below 7℃. In Regina, the average temperature for September is about 11.6℃, dropping to 5.1℃ for October. So, if you want to maximize your grip on the road, and preserve the tread life of your all-weather or summer tires, put your winter tires on at the beginning of October.
Once you have two sets of tires (possibly on two sets of wheels), you’re going to need somewhere to store them. If you have a shed or garage, you might end up lugging your tires back and forth twice a year. Or, you can use Capital GMC’s tire storage facility. When we change out your seasonal set we’ll put the other tires in our temperature-controlled storage. Once it’s time to switch back, we’ll have your tires waiting for you.
Basically, if you want the best traction and performance in winter, get winter tires. While it seems more expensive to buy two sets of tires, using one set during the improper season will cause it to prematurely wear. Alternating two sets of tires will save you money in the long run. However, if you refuse to get two sets of tires, remember to go with all-weather tires, not three-season (all-season).