Tires for Winter Driving
In the beginning, there were summer tires and snow tires. Then, several decades ago, the all-season tire was introduced into the marketplace, providing motorists with better winter driving performance than a summer tire and the opportunity to avoid the cost and inconvenience of the biannual winter tire changeover.
Many Canadian motorists still choose all-season tires because those tires meet their personal needs based on driving habits, where they live and their comfort level with winter driving.
The tire industry recommends winter tires for those wanting the very best, safest winter driving experience. Tire technology advances in tread compound and tread design have improved driving performance across the entire spectrum of tires, but especially with respect to winter tires. All tire rubber will begin to stiffen as the weather gets colder, but the latest generations of winter tires maintain their elasticity even at extremely low temperatures approaching -30°C and below, thus providing superior traction and grip.
Instead of thinking of winter tires only as "snow tires" you may want to start thinking of them as "cold-weather tires".
Tips for Safe Winter Driving
Driving in a Canadian winter can be a challenge. The best way to meet this challenge is to equip your vehicle for winter driving and to drive with caution in cold weather.
Winter tires handle winter driving conditions so well because they provide the best possible contact between your vehicle and the road. Whether the road surface is snowy or icy, wet or dry, winter tires offer optimal traction in all cold-weather conditions.
Who Needs Winter Tires?
Even if you drive an SUV or live where the streets are cleared of snow regularly, installing winter tires on all-wheel positions will improve surface grip in every type of road condition at temperatures below 7°C.
Even though all-season tires can provide safe all-weather performance, winter tires are more efficient once temperatures start to fall. Modern winter tires offer up to 50% or more traction than all-seasons.
Winter Tires in Canada—A Unique Challenge
TRAC Winter Tire Report 2018
For a list of tires manufactured by TRAC member companies and designed to provide enhanced performance in severe winter conditions, please view our 2018 Winter Tire Listing.
Definition of a Winter Tire
When shopping for winter tires, it is important to look for a tire that displays the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake Symbol (also referred to as the ‘Alpine’ symbol) on the sidewall. Transport Canada acknowledges that tires displaying this symbol meet the specific snow traction performance requirements, and have been designed specifically for use in severe snow conditions.
Winter tire testing is innovative, reliable and sophisticated. All winter tires that are marked with the Alpine symbol (pictured below) undergo the ASTM F 1805 tire test on medium-packed snow in standardized testing conditions to ensure their snow traction performance meets the minimum industry requirements to be considered a winter tire. Importantly, tires that are manufactured for medium-packed snow are required by law to perform this test and may display the 3PMSF symbol on the sidewall.