All You Need To Know About Winter Tires

November 27th, 2019 by

Close up of tires on a winter road


The leaves have fallen and the birds have flown South, which means it’s time to get ready for winter in Saskatoon. Do you have winter tires on your winter preparation checklist? You’re in good company with 76 percent of Canadian drivers who also use winter tires.


How Long Does a Winter Tire Set Last?

A common question our customers ask is “How long do winter tires last?”

Whether you’re ready to shop for a new set of winter tires or you’re curious if yours will last another hardy Saskatchewan winter, you can count on our Certified Service experts to have the answers!


What Are Winter Tires?

Winter tires are sometimes referred to as snow tires. The main difference between winter tires and all-season or summer tires is that they’re built specifically for harsh winter weather conditions. 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 that are suited for driving in mud and snow. You’ll know when you see ratings such as M+S, M.S. or M&S. While these tires may have more grip than your set of all-season tires, they don’t meet the official winter-tire testing requirements.

Another distinctive visual clue is the tread depth and tread patterns on winter tires. They’re designed to prevent snow build-up on that can lead to slipping or increased stopping time.

Contrary to all-season tires, winter varieties remain much more flexible in cold conditions. This flexibility is important for maintaining traction and grip on slick, icy roads.


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. If you wait until the first serious snowfall, it may already be too late.


How Long Do Winter Tires Last?

How long should tires last the average driver? There’s not one number or answer to this question, but they should last you at least a few seasons.

You know the general answer to how long should a set of tires last. But optimizing the lifespan of your winter tires starts from the moment they’re installed.

Of course, winter tire life expectancy and longevity depends on how you take care of your winter tires. Don’t make the mistake of keeping them installed during the summer months. Because they’re made of a softer rubber than all-season options, the heat can wreak havoc on winter tires.

When they’re not in use, it’s important to store them properly. It’s best to place them in a cool and dry area like a basement or garage. You should also consider cleaning them before retiring them during warmer months and placing them in an airtight bag.


How to Tell If Your Winter Tires Are Healthy

Knowing if your winter tires are in good shape is similar to the way you’d check all-season or summer tire condition.

One helpful factor to keep in mind is the tire expiration date. You can find the manufacturer and expiration date on the tires themselves. Do yourself a favor and write this down when your tires are installed.

If you’ve lost track of or need help locating this information, our service technicians can help you find it.

They can also provide another important check: tread depth. If your tires have tread wear indicators, keep your eyes peeled for those!

If your tires don’t have this feature, you can do a DIY tread test at home with a toonie. Place 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.

You can also be mindful of any visual signs of damage, whether that’s a gouge or tear. And 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.

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 can feel more informed and in control if you complete online research and know exactly what you want.

You can bring that research to our local Chevrolet dealership where we can help 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 prevent you from keeping your vehicle straight.

Tire pressure is also a very important winter tire service. Cold air can diminish your tire’s pressure. Without proper inflation, you could notice problems with fuel economy and traction.

5- Install a Full Set of Winter Tires

If you drive a Chevy or other pickup truck with rear-wheel drive, it may be tempting to just swap out 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. Otherwise, if you go only halfway, you could experience serious grip and control issues.

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

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!

Posted in Service