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How To Identify The Best Winter Tires For Cars

With so many tire types and performance features options on the market, buying winter tires can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be—just follow these 3 steps to simplify your winter tire shopping this season.

Step 1: Identify The Right Tire Type For Your Winter Driving

Drivers have three basic choices for the winter driving season: all-season tires, all-season tires with the 3-Peak-Mountain-Snowflake (3PMSF) symbol (often called “all-weather” tires), and winter tires. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine which is right for you.

Most Canadians prefer the third option; in fact, according to TRAC’s 2020 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study, nearly three-quarters (72%) of Canadian drivers now use dedicated winter tires designed only for cold-weather driving. And for the 81% of drivers who reported that winter tires saved them from a collision or serious loss of control last year, they’re downright essential. But that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone.

For instance, if you winter in St.Catharines, with its average daily highs of 1.1°C and nightly lows of only -6°C, you might actually be safer driving on all-weather tires. That’s because the special rubber compound used in winter tires loses performance in temperatures above -7°C.

To identify the best winter tires for your unique winter driving experience, get in touch with your local TIRECRAFT expert today. With more than 220 locations around Canada, qualified help is closer than you think. We carry all the top brand names in all three basic tire categories, and all winter tire consultations are totally free and COVID-safe.

If you’d rather figure it out on your own, start by asking yourself:

  • Am I willing to pay for seasonal tire changes? If not, all-weather tires might be best for you—but when factoring in your cost and convenience, remember: all-weather tires also wear faster.
  • How much snowfall does my city get? If you frequently drive on icy roads and hard-packed snow, winter tires are highly recommended.
  • Are winter tires mandatory? While winter tires are encouraged for all Canadian drivers, they’re legally required in Quebec and British Columbia.
  • How cold does it get in my area? If daily average dip below -7°C, winter tires are highly recommended. But if you’re lucky enough to get mild winters, all-seasons with the 3PMSF symbol might be sufficient.

Step 2: Check The Tread Depth

Regardless of your preferred tire type or brand, the Automobile Protection Association recommends finding tires with a minimum tread depth of 6/32” or 4.8 millimeters. The best way to check tread depth is simply to ask your local TIRECRAFT provider, but you can also get an approximate idea with the “quarter test.” Simply take a standard Canadian quarter and stick the caribou into the deepest part of the tread, nose-first. If the tip of the nose disappears, you’re probably safe; if it remains visible, the tread depth is inadequate.

Step 3: Select Performance Features Based On Your Driving Needs

There are dozens of top winter tire brands out there, each with their own unique performance features, from Toyo’s walnut-infused compounds to Bridgestone’s cavernous treads, all designed to improve specific aspects of your driving. For the best winter tire fit, try to prioritize different performance features—better fuel economy, faster braking, smoother handling, greater comfort, and so on—and use this list as your buying guide. If you need help finding tires with performance features suited to your driving needs, contact your local TIRECRAFT expert for a shortlist of recommendations.

Find The Best Winter Tires At Your Local TIRECRAFT

Use the Find a TIRECRAFT tool on our website to find a qualified winter tire shop near you.