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How to Find the Right Winter Tires

Along with colder temperatures, snow and ice, winter also brings potentially dangerous driving conditions. Therefore, it’s important to have the proper tires.

Installing the right tires will ensure you can tackle even the most precarious winter roads with confidence.

Here are a few characteristics to look for when buying winter tires.

Current Laws

In most Canadian provinces, winter tires aren’t mandatory. In fact, Quebec is the only province that requires all vehicles with a Quebec licence plate to be outfitted with winter tires from December 1 to March 15.

Many provinces strongly recommend the use of winter tires. However, there’s currently no legislation that requires it. There are also winter tire requirements for certain types of vehicles. Therefore, we advise you to check the government website in your province for the complete rules and regulations.

Material and Grip

Although winter tires are only mandatory in Quebec, Transport Canada requires all winter tires meet certain requirements. For example, winter tires must achieve a traction index rating equal to, or greater than, 110 to be considered suitable for driving in cold temperatures.

This is ASTM International’s ASTM F-1805-12 traction standard that’s used by Transport Canada.

*Traction index 

The following traction index measures a tire’s grip on wet roads. The higher the traction index, the shorter the braking distance.

AA

Best traction

A

Second best traction

B

Third best traction

C

Fourth best traction

 

 

Tires marked with this symbol meet specific snow traction performance requirements:

Image from the Ministère des Transports du Québec website 

You should install winter tires on your vehicle when temperatures start to consistently dip below 7 °C.

Types of Tires—Studded Tires

Whether you call them studded tires or spiked tires—they’re the same thing. In fact, the studs provide superior grip on icy and hard-packed snowy roads.

Studded tires are ideal for people who live in rural areas and frequently drive on unplowed roads. If you regularly drive on steep hills, you may also want to consider installing studded tires.

Types of Tires—Snow Tires

Just as studded tires are perfect for rural driving, snow tires are ideal for driving in remote areas. As the name suggests, snow tires handle extremely well on snow-covered roads.

Types of Tires—Ice Tires

Conversely, ice tires are best if you live in the city because paved roads are more often covered with ice. Consequently, ice tires perform best on snow-cleared roads.

Choosing the right winter tires is extremely important for your safety. Therefore, it’s a good idea to ask your mechanic for advice. They can help you make an informed decision.