Learn the most important features to look for when buying high-performance snow tires so you can be prepared for icy roads this winter.
Choosing the right winter tires (also called snow tires) can make all the difference. Some drivers rely solely on their all-season tires, but when snow and ice fall, winter tires can help keep you and your family on the road and safe. In Quebec, snow tires are mandatory on all vehicles from December 15 to March 15. The Automobile Protection Association (APA) recommends drivers across Canada invest in winter tires for maximum performance in the coldest months.
What makes winter tires different
Softer tread compounding is the main difference between all-season tires and snow tires. This feature allows snow tires to operate at their peak in low temperatures and help create as tight a grip on the road as possible. Snow tires look similar to all-season tires, but many feature longer rubber poles and a different tread pattern.
- Trust the ratings: There are three main ratings you should pay attention to when you’re shopping for the best winter tires.
- Load ratings: This classification tells you how much weight your tires will support. Your winter tires’ load ratings should be higher than your all-season tires.
- Speed ratings: The higher a winter tire’s speed rating, the faster it can safely travel in winter conditions. You can rely on tires that feature a higher speed rating for better handling in winter weather.
- Uniform tire quality grading (UTQG): This rating will tell you everything you need to know about a winter tire’s traction, treadwear capability and heat dissipation — all crucial factors for choosing the best-performing snow tire available.
Expert tire buying tips
Auto professionals always recommend purchasing all four tires at the same time. It may be tempting to save a bit of money by only buying two tires at a time, but this will cause uneven wear on your tires and jeopardize your winter driving performance. Besides, by mixing all-season tires with winter tires, you won’t have the full power and handling winter tires afford drivers across Canada.
Price is also an important factor. Auto experts know that snow tires should not cost much more than regular all-season tires. If you notice steep price differences, you may want to look elsewhere for snow tires that fit your budget.
Stop in to your local tire shop to learn more about how the right set of snow tires can keep you safe and secure on the road this winter.