Best winter tires

13 minute read Published on Feb 10, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Best winter tires

One of the top safe driving tips is to install winter tires on your car over the winter. Snow tires offer protection for winter drives, increasing traction and reducing the odds of sliding or skidding. But what winter tires should you buy for your car? With so many models out there, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Thankfully, BrokerLink is here to provide some insight into the best winter tires on the market today.

Winter tires explained

Before we get to our list of the top winter tires of the moment, let’s provide a brief explanation of what a winter tire is. A winter tire, also referred to as a snow tire, is a type of tire with unique features that is specially designed to drive in cold, snowy, and icy conditions. For a list of tips for driving on icy roads, contact BrokerLink.

Such tires are known for their superior traction, as well as their flexibility. Unlike all-season or summer tires, winter tires are made from a softer rubber that is able to remain flexible, even as temperatures drop, as well as maintain traction, even on slick roads.

A couple more features that distinguish winter tires from other types of tires are the deeper tread pattern, biting edges, and small teeth that are used to dig into the ice and snow, as well as divert water and salt away from the tire’s contact patch.

How long do winter tires last?

Winter tires do not last quite as long as all-season tires, with the average snow tire lasting approximately six years or 20,000 to 30,000 kilometres. That said, how long your tires last depends on the specific model of tires you buy, as well as your driving and storage habits.

If you spend an above-average amount of time on the road, then your winter tires may only last four or five years. Further, if you forget to swap out your tires before the warm weather hits and you drive them in the summer, this will wear them out much faster.

Similarly, if you store them improperly, this could also shorten their lifespan. Tires should always be stored in a cool, dark place, such as a basement or garage. You want to limit the amount of moisture and sunlight they receive.

Mandatory winter tires in Canada

Unlike car insurance, winter tires are not mandatory in all Canadian provinces and territories. In fact, there are only two parts of Canada where winter tires are compulsory: Quebec and British Columbia. This means that in all other Canadian provinces and territories, winter tires are not a requirement.

Rather, each driver gets to choose if they want to install winter tires on their car or not. Given the cold weather and heavy snowfall that much of the country receives over the winter, all-season tires typically are not sufficient for year-round use. Swapping your all-season or summer tires for winter tires once temperatures drop can prevent collisions, increase brake time, and even help you avoid getting stuck in the snow.

For a list of steps to take if you’re trapped in a vehicle in the snow, contact BrokerLink. It is also worth noting that many insurance companies across Canada offer an auto insurance discount to those who install winter tires on their car. Thus, installing snow tires on your vehicle would not only make your car safer to drive during the winter but could also save you money on car insurance coverage.

Considerations for buying winter tires

Before you dive in and make a winter tire purchase, there are a few considerations to think about:

Winter tires come in a range of sizes

Winter tires are not one size fits all. Rather, there are specific sizes to suit specific types of vehicles. For instance, you will find truck winter tires, SUV or crossover winter tires, and car winter tires. Make sure that you choose the right set for your vehicle. The vehicle manufacturer may even offer specific advice on which brands or models of winter tires best suit the car.

Winter tire prices

Winter tire prices vary widely and depend on several factors. Larger winter tires, such as those for trucks, are usually more expensive than the smaller winter tires that cars use. Further, you may have the option of buying used winter tires, which are often cheaper than new ones.

That said, when buying used tires, you will need to do your due diligence to make sure that they are in good condition.

The number of winter tires

Winter tires might be sold separately, but it is generally recommended that you buy them in sets of four. It is extremely important that the winter tires on your car be the same make and model.

Some insurance companies stipulate that all tires must be the same if you want to benefit from the winter tire car insurance discount.

Winter tire installation

It is generally a good practice to have your winter tires installed by a professional mechanic. Winter tire installation is one of many winter car maintenance tips. Contact an auto body shop or dealership near you to have your winter tires swapped out as soon as the temperatures drop or as soon as the date that your insurance company states that you must have your winter tires installed by.

What are the best winter tire brands in Canada?

There is no one type of winter tire that is best in Canada. Rather, there are a number of high-quality brands making winter tires to suit all kinds of vehicles and driving styles. Thus, when you are shopping for quality winter tires, we recommend starting with the most reputable brands in the business. A few of the top tire brands in Canada include:

  • Hankook
  • Goodyear
  • Michelin
  • Toyo
  • Dunlop
  • Uniroyal
  • Pirelli
  • Nokian
  • Cooper
  • Continental
  • Yokohama
  • Kumho
  • Motomaster

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice to a few brands, start reviewing the models of winter tires they offer. Your review of the different models should include an in-depth look at how each tire was tested and rated.

Snow tires are generally tested for both dry and wet handling, comfort, mileage, and ice and snow. Compare the ratings of different tires to get a sense of their performance and capabilities.

Swapping out all-season tires for winter tires

Many drivers, especially those who are new to winter tires, are unsure of the ideal time to swap out their all-season tires for winter tires. Most experts agree that the best time to install winter tires on your car is when temperatures are consistently below seven degrees Celsius.

All-season tires are known to become far less effective as soon as temperatures drop below this threshold. Unlike winter tires, all-season tires are made of firmer rubber that loses flexibility in cold weather.

The result is that the tires stiffen, which significantly reduces their traction. Oppositely, the soft rubber of winter tires allows them to remain flexible in cold conditions, allowing for effective traction in sub-zero temperatures.

While the seven degrees Celsius rule is a good rule of thumb, you should always check what date your insurance company recommends that you install winter tires on your car - especially if you hope to qualify for a winter tire discount. Most insurance companies stipulate a specific date that winter tires must be installed by in order to be eligible for a discount on your car insurance policy.

Find out what date this is by contacting your provider and setting a reminder to call your auto body shop and have your tires swapped by this date:

How long should I drive with winter tires on my vehicle?

Given the seven degrees Celsius rule, drivers should plan to leave the winter tires on their cars until temperatures are consistently above seven degrees again. This usually means swapping out your tires sometime in the spring.

Again, if you want to qualify for a winter tire discount, make sure that you double-check with your insurance company before taking your snow tires off. Many insurance companies have a specific date that winter tires must stay on your car until each year.

What happens if I take too long to install snow tires on my vehicle?

There are a few risks that come with installing snow tires late on your car. These range from losing out on a car insurance discount to increasing your odds of getting into a collision. Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn more about common car accidents.

First, since there are a number of conditions that must be met in order to qualify for a winter tire car insurance discount, waiting too long to install yours could make you ineligible.

Second, if you wait too long to install your tires, you run the risk of auto body shops being inundated with requests, significantly delaying your appointment with the mechanic.

Further, if you don’t already own winter tires and you wait too long to buy them, there is a chance that there may be very few in stock, forcing you to pay a different price than you want to or purchase a different set of tires than you were intending to.

Finally, by waiting too long to swap your all-season tires for winter tires, you increase the odds of getting into a collision on the road. By driving with all-season tires in cold temperatures or snowy or icy weather, traction will be severely reduced, which means shorter brake times and a higher risk of sliding.

Winter tire car insurance discount

If you want to know how much car insurance costs per month in Ontario or how you can save money on car insurance, then you’ve come to the right place. One way that you can reduce how much you pay for auto insurance in Ontario is by qualifying for a winter tire discount.

In essence, by installing snow tires on your car each winter and providing proof to your insurance company, you can receive a discount, so long as you meet the insurance company’s conditions.

Since January 2016, insurance companies across Ontario have been required to offer auto insurance discounts to policyholders who install snow tires on their vehicles. The only catch is that the customer must meet the conditions set out by the insurance companies. Ultimately, these conditions vary between providers but could include the following:

  • The customer must install four winter tires on their vehicle and all winter tires must be the same make and model.
  • The customer must install the winter tires on their vehicle before the date specified by the insurance provider and leave them on until the date specified.
  • The customer must notify the insurance company when they have bought the snow tires and show proof of purchase and/or installation. Examples of proof include a receipt for the winter tires or invoice for the installation.

To receive a free car insurance quote, contact BrokerLink today. We can let you know how much you can expect to pay for an auto insurance policy, taking into account the winter tire discount you may qualify for.

Winter tire safety tips

Before you start driving with winter tires, there are a few safety tips that are important to be aware of:

Install four winter tires on your car

First, you will want to make sure that you install four winter tires on your vehicle. This isn’t just because many insurance companies require it. It’s also because mixing and matching winter tires can lead to steering and handling issues.

For example, if you choose to only install winter tires on the front wheels, it could lead your car to oversteer. Meanwhile, only installing snow tires on the rear wheels could lead to understeering.

Do not mix and match winter tire models

Second, avoid mixing the makes and models of winter tires on your car. Remember that winter tires are not all the same, with each featuring unique treads. Thus, if you choose to install two tires from one brand and two tires from another, it could lead to uneven tread wear and make them less stable and effective overall.

Evaluate winter tire wear before installation

Third, before installing your winter tires each season, evaluate the wear. As with all tires, winter tires become less effective the more they are used. At a certain point, i.e. once the tread is worn down to a specific level, they become unsafe to drive.

If you aren’t sure how to check the tread wear on your winter tires, have a mechanic do it for you.

Properly inflate your winter tires

One last safety tip for winter tires is to make sure that they are properly inflated. Low tire pressure can negatively impact your car, and tire pressure drops faster in cold temperatures.

If your winter tires are inflated the proper amount, your car will be safer to drive and your tires might even last longer.

Winter tires vs. snow chains

Another type of winter driving equipment that you may have heard of is snow chains. Snow chains are often compared to winter tires, as similar to tires, they are used to help vehicles travel on snowy and icy roads. That said, there are a few key differences between winter tires and snow chains.

Since we’ve already explained how winter tires work, let’s provide a brief explanation of snow chains, also known as tire chains. Tire chains are metal chains that wrap around the tires on your car. As with winter tires, they come in a wide range of sizes, some to suit trucks and others to suit SUVs or cars.

You must ensure that you choose the right size chain for your tire and car if you want them to work effectively. Further, as with winter tires, they are designed to increase traction in the snow and prevent slipping, both of which make it safer to drive in winter conditions.

The main difference between winter tires and snow chains is that winter tires are the actual tire that goes on your wheel, whereas chains are an accessory that wrap around your tire, whether you have an all-season tire or a winter tire. As such, you can probably imagine that a permanent fixture like winter tires are generally considered to be more effective than tire chains.

Although tire chains are cheaper than winter tires, they should only be thought of as a temporary solution or an addition to winter tires rather than a replacement for them.

Tire chains also tend to work best when driving on snow-covered roads, whereas winter tires are effective on both snow and ice-covered roads, as well as dry roads in cold temperatures. Thus, if you drive regularly throughout the winter, snow tires may be the more reliable option.

At the end of the day, whether you decide to purchase snow tires or snow chains is up to you. Both can make it safer to drive during the winter. However, the capabilities are not quite the same, with winter tires offering better traction. Plus, snow chains typically do not result in a car insurance discount in Ontario, unlike winter tires which will come with a discount if you meet the conditions laid out by the insurance company.

The top winter tires in Canada

While this list changes frequently, a few of the top winter tires in Canada at the moment are as follows:

Hakkapeliitta 10 Studded

There is no denying that the Hakkapeliitta 10 Studded winter tires are some of the top snow tires on the market today. This tire received top marks when it came to both braking and cornering on snow and ice, as well as hydroplane resistance and handling in dry and wet road conditions.

A few standout features of this tire are its double stud technology that uses both centre studs and shoulder studs to improve braking grip, turning, acceleration, and lane-changing control. It also has its eco stud cushion that dampens road contact to reduce road noise and wear.

Nordman North 9 Studded

The Nordman North 9 Studded winter tire is another top performer in this market. This tire is known for providing excellent performance in a wide range of winter conditions, offering precise handling, hydroplane resistance, and top-notch braking and cornering on ice and snow.

Some of the features that are unique to this tire include the 3D sipping, NorthTech 9 tread compound, and the high amount of natural rubber used in the tire that allows it to remain soft even in cold temperatures.

Nitto Winter SN3

Next, the Nitto Winter SN3 tires are also worth checking out if you’re in the market for new winter tires. These winter tires are not studded, yet they offer impressive grip and comfort and are known for the minimal road noise they produce. The Nitto Winter SN3 tire features a cutting-edge tread design that results in improved handling and driving safety without compromising on comfort.

Get in touch with BrokerLink

If you want more tips or recommendations on how to find the best winter tires in Canada, reach out to BrokerLink today. We can offer expert advice on the benefits of installing winter tires on your car and how you can save money on your car insurance policy by doing so.

Speaking of car insurance, BrokerLink is a full-service auto insurance brokerage, which means we can help you find all types of auto insurance. Whether you are looking for mandatory coverage, such as third party liability car insurance, or optional coverage, we are here. A few of the coverages we can help you find include:

Contact BrokerLink today to begin your car insurance journey and request a free quote from one of our licensed advisors. You can also request a free quote using the online quote tool on our website.

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