NOT ALL TIRES ARE EQUAL.
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WINTER TIRE BUYING GUIDE: SAFETY | PERFORMANCE |FUEL ECONOMY
Choosing the right winter tire for your individual driving habits and specific vehicle requirements can't be easily ascertained through online reviews. Below is a general winter tire buying guide that helps you understand how our tire experts work with you to help you make the best choice for a winter tire this season.
All-Season vs. All-Weather
All-season tires are not designed for Canadian winters and they share none of the features found in a winter tire –siping, soft rubber compound, tall tread blocks and narrower tread width. The same all-season tires sold in Canada are also available in markets around the world, where winters are cold & rainy and NOT icy, snowy or slushy.
In Canada, all-season tires are only safe for 3 seasons -Spring, Summer and Fall.
All-Weather tires often feature the 3-peak mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall, demonstrating the tires design is suitable for snow & ice conditions according to Transport Canada.
All-Weather tires feature an asymmetrical design pattern with special rubber compound that is suitable for use year-round. So no need to swap tires or wheels every season. All-Weather is a convenient and safe choice for Canadian’s but not always a replacement for a dedicated set of winter and summer tires. Expect worse fuel economy and more road noise in Spring, Summer and Fall months* and a ~40% shorter tread life.
Agressive & Directional Tread
The combination of aggressive & directional tread design provides the ultimate performance in harsh winter weather. Aggressive tread designs have plenty of siping with various angles, sizes and patterns. Siping is the small slits cut into the blocks of tread on the tire which function to increase the number of edges that ‘bite’ onto the road surface. Plenty of siping also requires an effective directional tread design to channel the snow, slush and water away from the tread so the siping can continue to contact the road surface. Directional tread also provides faster response, better stability and still work well even when worn.
On snow covered highways it is easy to spot a vehicle equipped with aggressive & directional tread winter tires. Just compare the volume of snow and height that is thrown away from the tires surface to other vehicles. All-season tires typically freeze over and throw no snow at all!
This type of winter tire is the most popular and often the most cost effective if you plan on owning your vehicle for the next 5 years. Recently, a revolution in winter tire technology called ‘3-D’ siping has drastically improved all the drawbacks of aggressive winter tires, namely longevity, stability and braking distances on dry pavement.
Asymmetrical vs. Symmetrical
Asymmetrical tread designs feature two distinct patterns for two different conditions. All-Weather tires use asymmetrical design patterns to provide grip both in snow/ice and hot dry pavement. High performance winter tires for your sports car use asymmetrical designs that maximize dry pavement grip in cold weather but still perform exceptional in ice/snow.
The tires rubber compound is the most important feature of a tire and influences its performance, longevity and how the tire ages. Tire technology has progressed dramatically over the last decade due to advancements in compound, namely the addition of polymers like silica. This has resulted in tires that are 20% more fuel efficient, last much longer all while improving wet and dry performance.
SIDE WALL & LOAD RATINGS.
Often overlooked, side wall design and load ratings are key considerations when choosing winter tires, especially for European cars and SUVs. The large diameter wheels coupled with low profile sidewalls leaves little shock absorption from the winter tires softer sidewall.
This can result in tire blow-outs when hitting potholes and damage to your vehicles wheels or suspension. It can also cause excessive tread squirm under acceleration, which can be dangerous in higher horsepower vehicles.
Depending on the winter tires sidewall design and the vehicles application, choosing an XL sidewall can often solve this issue for most tires. Some side wall designs however simply don’t work well in certain applications and unfortunately tire manufacturers refuse to warranty these claims (i.e. blowouts). Choose a tire shop with a lot of experience to help you make the right decision.
STEEL WHEELS: UNIVERSAL VS. DIRECT FIT (HUB-CENTRIC).
Steel wheels cannot accept hub-centric rings which creates two types of steel wheels on the market.
Universal Steel Wheels
These are designed to fit any vehicle with the same bolt pattern. This makes them the cheapest wheel but buyer beware. The lack of a hub centric ring cannot guarantee the wheel will center properly on the hub, leading to vibrations and unever tire wear problems. We do not sell or carry these types of steel wheels.
Direct-Fit (Hub-Centric) Steel Wheels
These are the only type of steel wheels we sell. These are designed specifically for both your vehicles bolt pattern and hub diameter, which centers the wheel correctly on the hub. This ensures the wheel won’t shake or have balancing issues.
We strive to put alloy wheels on your car, whether we can secure a clearance special or from our used wheel selection. Alloy wheels are stronger, lighter and always hub centric. This means your vehicle will be safer, perform better and use less gas. They also hold value much better.