Getting Winter Ready | Get Home Safe
Winter Tires Are a Must For Many ReasonsThis is the time of year when the same question is heard in many offices, coffee shops and homes: "Should I put winter tires on my vehicle?"
The answer is a definitive and resounding “Yes” ...if you want maximum safety.
Whatever you have on your car, high performance summer tires or all-season tires, you will not get maximum grip on cold mornings unless you are on winter tires.
All tires have an optimal temperature range where they give you the best performance. Summer tires like it hot, all-season tires like all things moderate and, of course, winter tires like it cold.
No big surprises there. What may surprise some drivers, however, is that all these different types of tires all have somewhat equal grip when the temperature is 7°C or above.
As temperatures drop below 7°C, however, the winter tire develops more grip, while the all-season tire loses grip and the summer tire become just about useless. Winter tires have rubber compounds formulated to stay soft and pliable for better traction in cold weather, something that all-season tires don’t have.
The tire rubber must be flexible enough to wiggle and fit into the microscopic grooves in the pavement. The tire can then achieve maximum contact and use all of its surface to push off as it moves forward. If the tire rubber is not flexible, it cannot get into the microscopic grooves in the pavement. In that case, the contact surface area is just a fraction of what would be possible if the tire was flexible.
Try interlacing your fingers to bring the palms of your hands together. You can see the size of the contact area and how strong it is. That is your winter tire on pavement.
Now try placing your hands fingertip to fingertip. There is little contact area and if one hand pushes on the other, it slips. That is your car on stiff all-season tires on cold pavement. Small surface area equals small friction patch equals small grip.
All of this friction information depends on the pavement area being cold, dry and bare. Now add the lubricating qualities of water or slush or snow and you can see that the grip situation just gets worse.
There are many types of winter tires. Some are designed to be specialists in ice or snow, some are high-speed rated. There are even a few winter tires that can be left on the car year-round.
Current generation winter tires have shed some of the characteristics that annoyed drivers previously. For instance, these tires no longer generate loud buzzing noises at speed on the highway because they no longer have the huge blocks of tread that used to make cars squirm and jiggle whenever the brakes were applied.
If cost is a consideration, remember that your winter tires wear less in cold weather than all-season tires. All-season tires wear considerably faster when driven in winter.
Tips for Winter Driving | Always Stay SafeWinter drives can get scary at times, but it doesn’t have to be. Our number one, go-to, stand-by advice will always be to have winter tires. They are extremely important to conquer the unpredictable winter conditions. Besides winter tires, here are some safety tips you can follow to help ensure a safe arrival at your destination.
- Keep your gas tank above half. This will help prevent it from freezing in the extreme cold temperatures.
- Avoid using cruise control on slippery surfaces. This includes both wet and icy surfaces.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Avoid stopping when going up an icy hill.
- Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Check the Weather: Check the weather along your route and when possible, delay your trip if bad weather is expected.
- Stay Connected: Before hitting the road, notify others and let them know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
Frequently Asked Questions | Winter Tire Edition
When purchasing new tires, search for a match to the original set for size, quality, and performance. You can refer to the original tires, check the OEM Tire & Loading Information sticker on the inside of your driver’s door, or simply check the owner’s manual for that information.
It’s important to note that not using manufacturer-recommended replacement tires might affect the safety, handling, and ride of your vehicle. Replacing original tires with a different size might result in false speedometer and odometer readings.
Make sure to check our Tire Store before purchasing new tires for prices, tips, and ongoing promotions.
If you have any questions regarding tire specifications, contact our service department.
While it may feel like an extra purchase, buying winter tires can actually save you money in the long-run. They allow you to preserve the life of your summer or all-season tires, because tires do not wear out while they are stored in the garage.
With proper use and maintenance, they can last multiple winters, which is more time that you are preserving your warm-weather tires. This means your all-season tires have more tread life for the rest of the year and that saves you money. Winter tires and wheels may be one of the most economical purchases you can make.
See our Tire Store to see our ongoing promotions.
Absolutely! Rotating your tires based on the schedule in your owner’s manual is very important.
The front tires on your vehicle wear differently and more quickly than the rear tires – especially if it’s a front-wheel drive. Basically, rotating your tires from front to rear during their life cycle will:
- Help to equalize tread wear,
- Provide an opportunity to inspect your tires for any damage,
- Ensure that you maximize the life of all 4 tires.
There are different acceptable methods for rotating your tires based on the set-up of your vehicle:
- Staggered wheels (front and rear tires are different sizes)
- Unidirectional tires (tires specific to one side of the car)
- Asymmetrical tires (tread pattern changes from inside to outside of the tire)
Typically, you should check your tire pressure approximately every month. Tires that are not properly inflated can compromise both the handling and safety of your vehicle.
If your tire pressure is too high, your tires are over inflated and have less contact with the road. This gives you less grip, traction and power, and increases your effective stopping distance. Over-inflation also increases tire wear in the center portion of the tread and exposes your tires to damage from objects on the road and potholes. Your ride won’t be nearly as comfortable either, because your tires will be “bouncing” on the road.
If your tires are under inflated, too much of your tire is in contact with the road. This makes your tire hot and may result in overheating. In the worst-case scenario, this may cause tire failure. Under-inflation also increases tire wear on the tread at the edges and decreases your fuel economy.
Your recommended tire pressure is located on a sticker in the driver’s door jamb or fuel-filler door. This is the ideal pressure for the tires used on your specific model vehicle. The pressure indicated on your tire wall is the maximum allowable tire pressure, not the recommended pressure. If you are having problems with maintaining tire pressure or if you notice any unusual or uneven wear or damage to your tires, contact us as soon as possible.
Possibly. The important thing is to make sure your tires are properly inflated, which does improve gas mileage. If you already check your tire pressure regularly, you probably don’t need nitrogen in your tires. The added benefit of nitrogen is that it contains no moisture, which is present with a standard air fill. The absence of moisture provides a more stable pressure resulting in tires that are properly inflated longer. So, if you’re not in the habit of monitoring your tire pressure once a month and you are driving around with under-inflated tires, then yes, nitrogen may help improve your gas mileage. Remember, whatever type of tire fill you choose, be it air or nitrogen, tire pressures should be checked every month as outlined in your scheduled maintenance booklet. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is listed on the tire pressure label located on the driver’s door pillar.
In temperatures below 7° Celsius, you need winter tires.
At precisely 7° Celsius, the superior adhesion of winter tires begins to make a difference, regardless of road or weather conditions. With their specifically formulated rubber compounds, winter tires reduce vehicle stopping distances by up to 25% – performance that can make the difference between a close call and calling for a tow.
It’s ideal to have your winter tires installed when temperatures dip below 7 degrees Celsius and before the first snow fall. This will keep you prepared and safe on those cold fall mornings and help you beat the rush that happens during the first storm of the year.
There’s one thing to keep in mind when thinking of changing your winter tires. Temporary warm-ups don’t necessarily mean that winter is coming to an end. In Ontario, it’s common to see April and sometimes even May snowfalls. Therefore, we advise to wait when you’re considering changing back to your all-season tires before at least mid-end of Spring.
Remember why you purchased your winter tires in the first place – so you can drive safely and confidently.
Our best advice? Look at the weather forecast closely before changing your winter tires. If the daily lows are consistently above 7 degrees each night and the long-term forecast shows no threat of heavy snowfall, all-season tires can be installed back onto your vehicle.
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles are great assets and they are very valuable in adverse driving conditions. They can assist in acceleration, even in wintry driving. Without winter tires, braking and turning, can be just as dangerous for all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles as it is for a two-wheel drive vehicles. All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles can be very useful, but are even more effective when combined with winter tires.
Front wheel drive is certainly an advantage, but its advantage can be multiplied by using winter tires designed for the road conditions you’ll encounter. Part of a front wheel drive vehicle’s acceleration advantage is because it has 60% of its weight over the drive wheels. And while this helps you get started, it does nothing to help you stop. And a front wheel drive vehicle’s weight distribution is not the best for handling and cornering. Many of the reasons that encouraged you to select a front wheel drive vehicle are the same reasons that dedicated winter tires will make your winter driving more enjoyable and enhance your car’s braking, handling, and cornering traits.
There’s a common misconception that installing only two winter tires, either on the front or back, are sufficient to maintain control when the temperature falls.
It’s recommended by both the tire and vehicle manufacturers that drivers install a full set of winter tires. It comes down to all four corners and more rubber being in contact with the road at all times. This simple application of physics, known as co-efficient of friction, helps to ensure maximum traction in snow, on ice, and on roads affected by winter conditions.
You can leave your winter tires on all year, but it’s not a good idea. Winter tires tend to be noisier; they are also made with softer compounds which means they will wear out faster, especially in warm weather. Wear is critical because winter tires rely on their deep tread to dig into snow and ice. As soon as the snow is gone for good, remove your snow tires and reinstall your all-season tires.
The terms “winter tire“ and “snow tire“ are often used interchangeably, but “snow tire“ is not really an accurate name. It implies that winter tires are exclusively for snow, and that is false. Winter tires are engineered to perform better than all-season and summer tires in all winter conditions, not just snow and ice. All-season and summer tires begin to lose traction as the temperatures drop. This means that at 7 degrees Celsius and below, winter tires offer better traction that allow for safer braking and accelerating. For these reasons, the preferred term is “winter tires.”
Sooner or later, it happens to the best of us, we get a flat tire. Most of us have a roadside assistance membership of some kind but it is always good to know how to do this.
Follow these simple steps to fix the problem and be on your way in no time:
- Find a safe spot to pull over. If you’re on the highway, getting off is the safest bet, even if you have to drive on a blown tire. Otherwise, pull as far onto the shoulder as possible.
- Don’t park in the middle of a curve, where approaching cars can’t see you.
- Choose a flat spot, jacking up your car on a hill can be a disaster.
- If you have a manual transmission, leave your car in gear.
- Be sure to set your parking brake!
- Turn on your hazard lights.
- Get the jack, wrench, and spare tire from the trunk of the car and bring them over to the tire that is flat. Use other tools or supplies if needed.
Loosen the Lug Nuts:
- Use the wrench to loosen the lug nuts.
- You may need to remove the hubcap. Don’t remove the lug nuts at this point; simply loosen them by turning the wrench to the left (counter-clockwise).
- If the lug nuts are really tight, try placing the wrench on the nut and standing on the wrench arm to use your full weight on it.
- You can also try hitting the wrench arm with a rock.
Jack Up the Car and Remove the Lug Nuts:
- Use the jack to lift the vehicle off the ground.
- Different car models may have different places to put the jack; consult your owner’s manual for specific locations.
- Once the jack is securely in the correct spot, jack up the car until the tire is off the ground and can spin freely.
- Remove the lug nuts and pull the tire off the car.
- Make sure to place the lug nuts in a place where they won’t get scattered, and pull the tire straight toward yourself to remove it from the wheelbase.
Attach the Spare Tire:
- Place the spare on the car.
- Line up the lug nut posts with the holes in the spare, and push the spare all the way onto the wheelbase until it can’t go any farther.
- Put on the lug nuts.
- Don’t put them on tightly, just make sure they’re on enough for the spare to stay on the car for a moment.
- Lower the car back to the ground.
- Use the jack to bring the car back down to ground level.
- Remove the jack from underneath the car.
On the Ground:
- Make sure the lug nuts are tightened.
- With the car back on the ground, you can now tighten the lug nuts.
- Rather than tightening them one by one in order, start with one lug nut, tighten it about 50%, move to the opposite nut (across the circle) and tighten that one about the same amount.
- Keep tightening opposite lug nuts gradually in turn until each lug nut is as tight as it can be.
- Put your flat tire and tools back in your trunk.
- Make sure you don’t leave anything on the side of the road.
If you are lucky a tire isn’t completely destroyed when it goes flat. If the flat is caused by a nail or other sharp object, and you can’t or don’t want to change your tire you may be able to give yourself a few kilometers of leeway by using a flat-fix type spray. Simply follow the manufacturer’s directions. In ideal situations, the spray foam will allow you to at least find a close off-ramp and pull into a service station or a rest stop before you have to change your tire.
If your tires appear worn or you have had a flat tire and need it fixed or replaced, contact our service department for a fast and cost efficient solution.
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