Do I really need winter tires?

It's a gamble that thousands of drivers take every year. Can they manoeuvre through another Canadian winter without installing winter tires? Why not just roll the dice and stick with all-season tires? Before you decide, consider these facts. 

All-season tires are made with a hard rubber compound, which loses pliability as temperatures drop. Winter tire rubber, conversely, is softer. As it gets colder, the rubber hardens just enough to work in cold weather. Winter tires also feature wider and longer treads so they can eject snow and ice. 

But what about recent driving advancements, such as ABS and traction control? Don't they negate the need for winter tires? Truth is, they only help prevent over braking or overpowering the available traction of the tires. The only way to increase traction is to get more grip and control by - you guessed it - installing winter tires.

Speaking of traction, the difference in braking distance between new winter tires and all-seasons is estimated at about six metres or eighteen feet. And this is at just 30 kilometres an hour - imagine trying to stop at highway speeds. Who wants to gamble...particularly when the safety of your family is involved?

Yes, winter tires come with a cost, somewhere around $120 per tire. But let's think this through. Besides vastly improved safety, consider that using winter tires extends the life of your summer tires. That saves you money. Ontario law mandates that insurance companies offer discounts to drivers that install winter tires. You save again. And speaking of insurance, have you had an accident lately?! Collision deductibles and future premium increases are a virtual certainty if you can't brake to avoid an accident in the snow and ice. All things considered, it's a smart investment.

So, now that you see the value in investing in winter tires, let's talk about that investment. First, you'll need four tires, not just two. Why? If you use two dissimilar types of tires, you'll have a vehicle that has a "split" personality. One end of the vehicle won't react the same as the other - you'll be understeering in one condition - and oversteering in another. 

Before you invest, consider the severity of winter in your area. If you have a lot of snow and ice, get a tire that can handle it. And be sure to look for the snowflake and mountain logo printed on the sidewall, to ensure you're buying a true winter model. 

When should you buy winter tires? Most manufacturers offer rebates starting in September. Dealerships sweeten these deals with additional offers. It's recommended to change your tires as the temperature falls to single digits, ideally when it's 7 degrees Celsius for 7 consecutive days. At this temperature the rubber compound in all-season tires gets too stiff. In short, if you can see your breath, get your winter tires installed.


Many stores carry winter tires, but your Dilawri dealership is staffed with experts at matching the right tire to fit your specific model. Dilawri dealerships also offer a lowest price guarantee on winter tires. Also, you can get comprehensive tire and wheel packages, including installation, balancing, alignment and even storage - all in one place. 
So do the right - and smart thing. Invest in new winter tires…or roll the dice…again. Drive safe.