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Many customers come in and ask “Do I need winter tires if I have all season tires on my car?”  The short answer is, it depends.  Every driver’s needs are different depending on the weather and road conditions they encounter throughout the year.  To understand what tires you’ll need, you must first understand the different in winter tires vs. all-weather tires vs. all season tires.


All Season Tires


Many vehicles are fitted with all season tires when they leave the factory.  Since they are built to provide a relatively quiet ride, good tread life and year-round performance, it’s no wonder why they are so popular.  All season tires offer versatile performance and are designed to perform in a variety of conditions including wet roads and light winter driving.  All season tires are designed to offer a combination of benefits from summer and winter tires.


In order to provide good performance in a variety of driving conditions, all season tires inevitably have to compromise some summer and winter performance capabilities.  That means all season tires won’t provide the same amount of extreme grip and sharp handling of a summer tire.  Likewise, an all-season tire is not designed to handle extreme winter conditions like trekking through snow or driving on ice.  Think of all-season tires like running shoes.  You can wear running shoes all year, but they aren’t ideal for all situations. It’d be much better to have flip flops on the beach in the summer and boots for the snow in the winter.


All season tires are a great option for drivers who live in moderate climates and do not frequently encounter extreme cold, ice and snow in the winter months. In Canada, a typical all-season tire performs optimally during the most temperate months of April-September, because when the average temperature hits 7 degrees Celsius point, the rubber compounds in all season tires harden, reducing traction and braking ability.  Simply stated, all-season tires are a great option for drivers who live in moderate climates and are not intended for extreme winter conditions (cold, ice, snow, slush), and do not carry the Three-peak Mountain Snowflake designation.


All-Weather Tires

When comparing all-weather tires to all-seasons and winter tires, think of all-weather tires as a hybrid that combines the best of both worlds.  All-weather tires visually look like a cross between all-season and winter tires.  They are designed with a more flexible rubber compound and a portion of the tire has treads that are straight, while some portions resemble the blocky winter tire tread too.


All-weather tires perform well in both summer and winter seasons, and save you from the tire changeover and storage hassles.  The difference between all-weather and all-season tires really comes out when the pavement is wet, so imagine the difference in snow and slush.


Of course, a winter tire outperforms an all-weather in the cold season, hands down.  But all-weather tires are much better than all-season tires in the winter, while performing significantly better in the summer when compared to winter tires.  All weather tires also have the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol, which mean that they are recognized by Transport Canada to be specifically designed for use in snowy conditions.


So, what’s the downside to all-weather tires? There isn’t much, but you should know that all-weather tires typically don’t last as long as winter or all-season tires.  The all-weather tire composition is different, and the material has to be able to withstand a wide range of temperatures, so don’t expect to get the same amount of tread life when comparing them to all season or winter tires. All-weather tires are best for drivers in milder winter climates, and not recommended for those who drive in areas that experience considerably colder temperatures and snow squalls.



Winter & Snow Tires


When it comes to driving in winter weather, having the right tire matters.  From heavy snowfall to black ice, winter roads are extremely unpredictable.  These conditions challenge tires to provide traction like no other season of the year. The combination of cold temperatures, ice, and snow can be best met by winter tires, which are specially designed to perform in winter conditions.


There are specific features of winter tires that make them unique:  Tread Rubber, Tread Depth and Patterns, and Biting Edges.


The Tread Rubber - In extreme cold temperatures, the tread rubber of an all season or summer tire stiffens and becomes less able to provide sufficient traction. To combat this, tread rubber compounds of winter tires are designed to remain flexible, allowing the tire to grip the road better.


The Tread Depth and Patterns - A unique feature of winter tires is deeper tread depths and unique tread patterns. Deeper tread depths reduce snow buildup and provide better traction on the snow. Winter tire tread patterns are designed to channel snow and slush and expel water. 


Biting Edges - Winter tires also feature an increased number of biting edges and high sipe densities, or in other words, thousands of tiny slits in the tread that provide traction on ice. 




The solution to the winter or snow tires vs. all-weather vs. all season tires question will depend on where you live and the conditions in which you drive.

If you only see a few snow flurries each year and slick, icy roads are more of a fluke than an annual ordeal, all season tires or all-weather tires are probably the way to go. But if you know there’s a period when icy roads are always an issue, mounting winter tires isn’t an over-the-top precaution – it’s an essential safety measure that could save your life.

When mounting winter tires for the season, always install a full set. Just changing out the front tires increases the likelihood that the rear tires will skid. Likewise, just putting snow tires on the rear wheels could cause the front tires to lose traction and make it impossible to steer your vehicle.

And remember to re-mount those all-season tires when spring rolls around. While winter tires are undeniably superior in extreme winter conditions, they’ll wear down faster on warm, dry pavement.

Hainer’s Tire & Auto Repair – Winter Tires


Stop in today to discuss your tire options and what tires would be the best option for you. 

Contact us today at (905) 934-2331 or to set up your next appointment for Tire and Auto Repair Services. 

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