What We Talk About When We Talk About Winter Tires
We can feel it. Winter is on its way. And, like the smart, forward-thinking driver that you are, you're already thinking about those winter tires to outfit your car for the upcoming season of slippery roads and frostbitten fingers. And if you're in the market for new tires, we have you covered!
While purchasing new winter tires isn’t cheap (a new set will set you back anywhere from $800-$1500), having them is definitely beneficial. They not only help you protect the tires you typically use in the summer, but they lower the amount of wear and tear you would endure if you used the same set of tires year-round.
TYPES OF TIRES
Winter tires can be grouped into two basic categories: ‘ice radials’ and ‘traditional snow-treads’. Ice radials resemble regular summer tires, while snow-treads have the deep treads and grooves you may think of when you envision a heavy-duty ‘snow tire’.
When shopping around, you should consider the different size options. As is the standard, tires come in three different size dimensions, each with their own distinct load and speed rating. You can find the specs of a set of tires by checking the interior wall of each tire. The information will be displayed via a set of numbers and letters that are typically 9-10 digits long. For example, a ‘P’ in your code was P458/81R02 will stand for ‘Passenger Car’, while a ‘LT’ stands for ‘Light Truck’. This code indicates the type of car your tires are meant for. Other size components that are important include the width (in millimeter) of the tires, as well as the aspect ratio. The latter points to the height of the tire’s side wall (the distance between the edge of the wheel rim and the top, where the tread-face is).
So, let’s take a look at the code P300/80R20 again. 300 would represent the tire width, the number 80 indicates that the side wall is 80% of the width size. The last two digits (20) represent the tire’s diameter.
Remember, a narrower tire tread fares better in snow or slush conditions and a taller sidewall can cut the overall price of the tires. It’s also important to get the tire circumference right since a faulty size can create a range of issues, ranging from braking failures to inaccurate speedometers and odometers.
Sure, it can be hard to find information about winter tires, since manufacturers do not publish prices on their websites. Two great resources we trust are Canadian Tire and TireRack.com. These retailers find the general prices of the most popular winter tires.
You could also take a look at buy and sell websites such as Craigslist or Kijiji to find the best deals for new winter tires. These items are often listed at competitive prices since you are buying directly from another consumer rather than dealing with any middleman.