Understanding How Winter Tires Work and Why You Should Have Them Installed on Your Vehicle


We are now a few days into December, and Mother Nature is beginning to give us a preview of what winter has in store for us. When you live in Canada, you know that driving on ice and snow is a reality you’ll need to face.

Regardless of your driving habits, winter tires are the best way to keep safe throughout a Canadian winter. Maybe you’re not used to driving with winter tires on, and you’re wondering how installing winter tires will change your vehicle’s performance.

The first thing you’ll notice that your vehicle will slip and slide a lot less once you’ve installed a new set of winter tires. Being still careful is essential. Sure, you’re a lot more protected, but you are not invincible. Some drivers notice that their vehicle will make louder due to the tires better gripping the snow, that’s a good thing.

Here’s the science behind how snow tires work: winter tires are designed with softer materials and tread patterns that better grip road surfaces covered by snow, ice and slush. The rubber also drives better on cold road surfaces. A traditional tire will get harder when temperatures get colder than 7 degrees Celsius; this makes winter maneuvering much more challenging. Winter tires stay soft in these conditions so that the tires will keep their grip ability to -40C.

Tire manufacturers are always trying to come up with new ways to make their winter tires stand apart, there have been many innovations in the last decade. By experimenting with new materials, tread patterns and technology the winter tires you purchase today will perform much better those bought only a few years ago.

Regardless of the tires on your car, you need to drive with caution when the conditions call for it. When there a storm your best protection to follow the speed limits, keep a safe distance between other cars and use caution. Winter tires are not magical, but they are a great tool to keep you safe during the winter season.

The use of winter tires has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) recently conducted a survey and found that 60 percent of drivers outside of Quebec (a province that requires drivers to have snow tires installed) now drive with winter tires on their vehicles. While it’s appearing that more people are driving with winter tires, it’s important to realize that many drivers still do not. Be mindful of the traffic behind you and avoid making sudden stops and turning without signaling far in advance. Use your mirrors often; this will help you see sliding vehicles in advance and provide you with time to react. Following these steps is the best way to avoid being rear-ended by a trailing car.

Keep a four to five-second buffer between you and other vehicles on the road and slow down when you see a yellow traffic light or stop sign ahead.

Having a vehicle with All Wheel Drive can also help with winter driving, but it will do little to help with sudden stops in poor driving conditions. AWD vehicles are designed to maintain a faster speed in deeper snow, braking is still very much dependent on vehicle’s tires and the grip they have on the snowy road.

At CarOne, we have one of the Kingston region’s best selection on winter tires. We have a team of experienced Service Advisors that understand local weather conditions and will help you find a set of winter tires that suit your driving needs and works with your budget.  Our team of experienced technicians work on all makes and models. We recently partnered with Tire Connect, one of the largest online tire technology providers. You can now browse through our selection of winter tires from the comfort of your computer or mobile device and easily navigate through tires suited for your specific vehicle. Remember, we’re here to help. Please let us know if you have any questions about snow tires and we’ll be happy to help! Call us at 613.542.2223, visit us at 790 Gardiners Road or send us an email.

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