Winter Tires Vs All-Season Tires

Lately, there’s been no snow on the roads and temperatures are rising closer and closer to above freezing. Even so, many Canadians still don’t equip their vehicles with winter tires because “it’s too expensive.”

This logic is interesting, because when you switch between two sets of tires, you prolong the life of each; you extend the life of your all-season tires when you store them in the winter. And if you ride on all-season tires year-round, as many drivers do, you’ll be replacing those tires more frequently than if you had two sets – so any “savings” is considerably reduced.

A lot of drivers who stick with all-season tires throughout the year also say that they don’t want to be bothered with yearly tire changeovers or storing tires in their garage or condo lockers. While it may be a hassle to have two sets of tires for your car, remember that winter tires are part of the cost of driving in our climate. Plus, in a recent Kal Tire study, a vehicle with winter tires stopped almost 15 metres sooner than its all-season tire counterpart.

Canadians are generally well versed in the differences between all-season and winter tires. For those of you who want vehicle safety but don’t want to switch between two sets of tires, take heart – all-weather tires are a good option. If you’re thinking they should come up with better names to differentiate the types of tire (all-season versus all-weather), trust me – you’re not the only one who’s confused. From my experience, few Canadians are aware that all-weather tires exist, or understand how they differ from all-season tires.

Of course, a winter tire outperforms an all-weather tire in the cold season, hands down. But all-weather tires are much better than all-season tires in the winter, while performing significantly better in the summer when compared to winter tires. All-weather tires also have the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol, which means that they are recognized by Transport Canada to be specifically designed for use in snowy conditions.

Many drivers who use winter tires purchase a second set of rims, but don’t opt in on the tire pressure sensors for the winter set. While most drivers seem to think that they can manage a few months without them, it’s important to know that some vehicles have other safety systems that rely on the information provided by the tire pressure sensors. With all-weather tires on the original equipment rims, the tire pressure monitoring system is active all year long.

So what’s the downside to all-weather tires? There isn’t much, but you should know that all-weather tires typically don’t last as long as winter tires or all-season tires. The all-weather tire composition is different, and the material has to be able to withstand a wide range of temperatures, so don’t expect to get the same amount of tread life when comparing them to all-season or winter tires; as such, all-weather tires also tend to have shorter tread life warranties. Nokian’s WRG3 all-weather tire has a warranty of 88,500 kilometres, while its eNTYRE all-season tire has a warranty of approximately 128,000 km; Bridgestone doesn’t have a mileage warranty for its Blizzak winter tire. If you’re riding on all-weather tires all year, you’ll need to replace them sooner than if you had two sets of tires to switch between.

Having tires that are appropriate for all weather conditions is part of driving in our climate. We don’t wear summer shoes or jackets when the weather gets cold, so why use all-season tires if they’re not designed for cold weather? This spring, if you’re due for new all-season tires, consider purchasing all-weather tires to keep you safe on the road every day of the year.

Visit our Service Department to schedule a service and to discuss your options for winter!