Do you have winter tires on your winter preparation checklist? If so, you’re in good company with 75 percent of Canadian drivers who also switch to winter tires when that time of year comes around.
What is the difference between Winter Tires and All Season Tires?
Winter tires, also referred to as snow tires, are built specifically for the harsh winter weather conditions. The rubber remains much more flexible in cold temperatures, which helps maintain traction and grip on slick, icy roads. Another distinctive visual clue is the tread depth and tread patterns on winter tires. They are designed to prevent snow build-up that can lead to slipping or increased stopping time. They come in both studded and stud-less varieties and offer more traction than non-winter tires.
You can recognize winter tires by looking for a snowflake and three-peaked mountain graphic. This is also known as an Alpine Symbol and it confirms that tires have met industry traction standards for winter weather conditions—also known as ASTM F1805.
You may also come across tires with ratings such as M+S, M.S. or M&S., this means they are suited for driving in mud and snow. While these tires may have more grip than your set of all-season tires, they don’t meet the official winter-tire testing requirements.
Why Install Winter Tires?
While winter tires are only recommended in Saskatchewan, they are mandatory in other Canadian provinces such as Quebec, where they also host a Winter Tire Appointment Week to help everyone get their cars winter-ready. Data shows that enforcing this rule in Quebec has led to a five percent reduction in winter accidents.
In addition to providing more safety and security on winter roads, winter tires can also be a smart investment. By swapping your all-season or summer tires for a winter set during the colder months, you can save money in the long run by extending the lifespan of both tire sets.
Once temperatures dip below seven degrees Celsius your non-winter tires are at risk of losing their traction. That’s why it’s best to act early and install winter tires on your vehicle before truly cold weather hits.
How Long Do Winter Tires Last?
There is not one straight answer to this question as tire life depends on the type of roads and amount of driving. However on average, a set of winter tires should last you a few seasons.
Optimizing the lifespan of your tires starts from the moment they are installed. Of course, life expectancy and longevity depends on how you take care of your tires both when they are in use and when you have them stored away in the off season. Avoid the mistake of keeping them installed during the summer months. Because they are made of a softer rubber than all-season tires, the heat and summer roads will wear down the tread considerably quicker.
When not in use, it’s important to store them properly. It is best to place them in a cool and dry area such as a basement or garage. If you must store them outside it is wise to invest in a tarp to cover them from the elements. It is also good practice to clean your tires before storing them away. If you are short on space, we have tire storage options for a reasonable rate and include one free season of storage for all new tire purchase and installs.
Whether you are in need of a new set of winter tires or you’re curious if yours will last another hardy Saskatchewan winter, you can count on our service and parts experts to have the answers! You can give us a call or text at 306-374-6330 or contact us here.
How to Tell If Your Winter Tires Are Healthy
There are a few quick ways to determin if your tires are in good shape. First and foremost; the tire expiration date. You can find the manufacturer and expiration date right on the tires themselves. Making a note of this information and when you had them installed will be helpful later on. If you need help locating this information, our service technicians can help you find it.
Tread depth is another important factor when deciding if it is time for a replacement. If your tires have tread wear indicators, it’s good to check this on each tire a few times through the season, especially if you do a lot of driving! If your tires don’t have this feature, you can do a DIY tread test with a toonie by placing the coin in one of your tire’s treads. If the coin covers only half of the lettering, you’re probably in need of a replacement set.
Also be mindful of any visual signs of damage, whether that’s a gouge, tear, or cracks in the rubber. If you notice anything alarming such as increased stopping time, sliding, and hydroplaning, head to our service center for a closer look.
Winter Tire Shopping and Care Tips
There are several actions you can take to help guarantee that you’re buying the best tires for your vehicle and taking care of them in the right way.
1- Purchase the Right Winter Tire Size for Your Vehicle Type
Make sure you’re shopping for the right tire size for your vehicle type. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one particular brand or model is the only right fit.
It’s important to review the size and compatibility. SUV tires differ in size from sedans. You don’t want to end up with a set that doesn’t match or suit your particular model.
Your vehicle’s owner’s manual is a helpful place to look for tire specification requirements. When in doubt, our tire experts can quickly and easily show you some great options for your vehicle.
2- Consider Your Driving Habits
Along with getting the right fit for your vehicle, you should also take your driving habits and needs into account.
All drivers in the Saskatoon area face their fair share of snow and cold. But if you operate a work truck and need to haul or tow heavy loads or spend extensive time on slick surfaces or challenging terrain, you may want to look for a heavier-duty set of winter tires.
3- Do Your Research
There are a lot of tire varieties out there. You will be more informed and confident in your decision with a little online research to familiarize yourself with what you want.
You can bring that research to our Parts & Service departments where we can provide recommendations and advice. Or if you know what you want, our dealership is an excellent place to purchase your tires and have them installed by our service experts.
4- Keep up With Winter Tire Maintenance
The winter months require a bit more attention to your tires. The cold temperatures and elements can destabilize and wear your tires out if not properly cared for.
Coordinate with our service team to maintain aspects such as:
- Tire pressure
- Tire alignment
- Tire balancing
- Tire rotations
During other seasons, tire rotations are less pressing. But during the winter season, you may want to start things off on the right foot by rotating your tires to promote optimal tread.
You may also want to ask our technicians for a tire alignment. This routine maintenance service helps ensure that your tires are at the most efficient angles. This check also prevents any issues with your suspension that will keep your vehicle from traveling straight.
Tire pressure is also a very important winter tire service as cold air can diminish your tire’s pressure. Without proper inflation, you could notice problems with fuel economy, traction, and wear.
5- Install a Full Set of Winter Tires
If your vehcile has rear-wheel drive it may be tempting to swap out only two of your all-season tires with winter-ready alternatives, but you may want to think again. Changing out all four tires with winter tires is your best bet for maximum traction and handling in snow and frigid weather. By only swapping out 2 tires, you run the risk of compromised performance and safety.
6- Use Extra Caution When Driving
Every time you’re behind the wheel it’s important to drive defensively, but winter driving requires an extra level of caution.
Safe winter driving tips include using your lights for visibility, keeping more room between your vehicle and the one in front of you, keeping an emergency kit on hand, and ensuring you have at least a half tank of gas at all times.
Keep Your Tires and Vehicle in Great Shape This Winter!
Need A New Set of Winter Tires? Call Us for Winter Tire Specials.
While there is not one exact answer to how long winter tires will last, the average tire life spans several winter seasons. If you’re uncertain about whether your winter tires will carry you through the upcoming winter, visit us for an expert opinion.
We take care of all makes and models at our service centre in Saskatoon. Hurry in soon to install a new set of winter tires and winterize your car.
We’ll make sure your battery is fully charged, all fluids are topped off, and your brakes are in top-notch condition.
Schedule your appointment today!