Shopping around for winter tires? Tires in general are a subjective purchase and there are so many options to choose from, like buying 'white' wedding invitations—pearl white, cloud white, bright white, super-clean-teeth white. You get the idea.
Here are some tips from Transport Canada to keep in mind when buying winter tires:
- Look for the peaked mountain with snowflake symbol when shopping for winter tires. Tires marked with this symbol meet specific snow traction performance requirements and have been designed specifically for use in severe snow conditions. There are some tires that are marketed as all-weather tires and may have a snowflake design (see example images below), but if it's not the peaked mountain symbol, it isn't a winter tire.
- Tires marked M+S (Mud and Snow) or all-season tires may provide safe performance in most weather conditions, but are not designed for snow and ice-covered roads.
- To assist you in controlling your vehicle in winter conditions, always install your winter tires in sets of four ONLY. It's important to install four matching tires, as mixing tread designs from different makes and models of tires may compromise handling.
Installing only two winter tires is dangerous. It doesn't matter if your car is front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. Winter tires installed only in the front of the vehicle will cause fishtailing, where the rear end of the car has no traction and you will have absolutely no control. Winter tires installed only in the rear of the car affects your ability to steer, because the feedback you get from the tires will cause you to either oversteer (to turn more sharply than needed) or understeer (you guessed it, to turn less sharply than expected).
While the minimum thickness of all season tire treads is 2/32”, we recommend replacing winter tires when the treads are 4/32”. Less than that, there's really not much tread left on the tire for it to cut through the snow and maintain traction on the road.
Click here to learn more about winter tires.