How to Buy Winter Tires
At this point, everyone knows we need winter tires but starting the process and knowing what to look for can be less obvious.
Do I need tires that are specifically for my car?
Kind of! Most vehicles will have a list of suggested winter tires for the make and model which narrows the options down, but there are other factors to consider. Since we live in Northwestern Ontario, you should be looking at tires that are well-known for great handling on snow and ice.
Also, each make and model will have a recommended tire size. Look at the tires on your vehicle right now; for example, if you have a 2016 Hyundai Elantra Sport your tire size is P215/45R17. It’s best to stick with this size when winter tire shopping.
What’s the difference between snow, ice, and studded tires?
Snow tires are great if you live in an urban area that gets a lot of snow, but has relatively mild temperatures. The tread is quite deep to provide traction and slush evacuation.
Ice tires should be selected if you consider yourself to be a busy road/highway/expressway driver. Their tread is built to channel the thin layer of water that covers icy roads.
Studded tires are best for the region we live in because they perform in both snowy and icy conditions, as well as secondary or rural roads. They aren’t very quiet but hey, it’s a small price to pay.
Can I get away with just one or two winter tires?
No. Winter and all-season tires are made for different weather conditions. If you put winter tires in front, you can spin out. If you put them on the back, you may affect your cornering abilities.
Do I need new rims too?
You don’t need new rims but it’s significantly easier (and less expensive) to switch up your tires if they’re already mounted on their own wheels. Not to mention putting winter tires on your existing rims season after season can wear them out quicker than usual.
If you do buy new rims, they don’t have to be as nice or the same exact design as your all-seasons but they do have to be the same diameter and have the same bolt pattern.
Can I buy used winter tires to save some money?
This is tricky! Winter tires should only really be used for a handful of seasons so the older the winter tires, the less effective they will be. This is the same for rims – you don’t want them to be too old.
If you’re looking to save money with this route, look for relatively new wheels that are being sold for reasons other than age. This could be due to a new vehicle, the fact that they’re the wrong size, wrong bolt pattern, etc.
Buying winter tires isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. Set yourself up for a stress-free winter by getting the right tires for your vehicle, driving habits, and environment.