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One-Stop Snow Tire Shop: How to Find the Best Winter Tires for SUVs

Today’s post shares 3 winter tire evaluation tips to help SUV drivers choose the best products for their needs and budget. Read on or Find a local TIRECRAFT to speak with a winter tire expert straight away.

How to Select the Best Winter Tires for SUVs

1.  Check the Tread Depth

When deciding on winter tires for an SUV, pay special attention to tread depth. According to the Automobile Protection Association, the minimum tread depth you need at the start of winter is 6/32” (4.8 millimeters).

To test the tread of any winter tire you see at the shop, all you need is a conventional Canadian quarter. Stick the caribou, nose-first, into the deepest part of the tread. If the nose isn’t buried, those winter tires have inadequate tread depth.

2.  Read the Tire Sidewall

The sidewall contains plenty of useful information about the tire’s size and capacities, including:

  • Width (mm)
  • Aspect ratio
  • Radial construction
  • Rim diameter
  • Load range
  • Speed rating

Knowing how to read this information may prove useful when trying to choose between two comparable products. And it’s easier than you might think.

Let’s suppose your sidewall reads 185/80 R 14 88H. Here’s what that means:

  • The first 3 digits (e.g. 185)correspond to the width of the tire’s section in millimeters. The higher the value of the first three digits, the wider the tire.For winter tires, narrow is best. Narrow tires increase traction by cutting through ice and snow, whereas wider tires tend to plow and float on top of the surface, instead of slicing down and through.
  • The next 2 digits (e.g. 80) indicate the ratio between the sidewall’s height and the section’s width. In this example, the sidewall’s height equals 80%. The lower this value, the lower the tire profile, which is something we want to avoid when shopping for winter tires for an SUV.
  • The R indicates that the tire is of radial construction, which means that the tire’s internal plies run perpendicular to the bead or centre-line. The number (e.g. 14) indicates the diameter of the rim (in inches) that the tire should be mounted on. Thus, the radial tire in our example should be mounted on a 14” rim. Make sure your chosen tires fit your rims!
  • The next 2 digits (e.g. 88) indicate the load rating that the tire can support at maximum inflation.
  • The final letter (e.g. H) indicates the speed rating for which the tire has been designed. This tire is rated at a maximum speed of 210 km/h. You can find a handy tire speed rating chart on the Bridgestone Tire website.

3.  Spot the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) Symbol

Also referred to as the “Alpine symbol,” the 3PMSF symbol is located on the tire sidewall. It indicates that the tire has successfully completed the ASTM F 1805 winter tire test on medium-packed snow in standardized testing conditions.

Browse All the Best Winter Tires for SUVs at your local TIRECRAFT

Whether you need more winter tire selection tips, or you want to browse all the top winter tires for SUVs in one place, TIRECRAFT can help.

Use the Find a TIRECRAFT tool to find a local tire specialist and start your free winter tire consultation now.