There’s more to them than you might know

Now that school’s back in session and everyone is settling into their routines of school, hockey, and piano lessons, it’s time to start considering how to get to all of these events safely. It seems too early to say the “S word”, so let’s talk about winter tires.

While many people in Central Alberta drive 4WD trucks or AWD SUVs, there are still plenty of drivers with front-wheel or rear-wheel drive vehicles. While 2 winter tires will suffice for a 2WD vehicle, where do you put them? The front or rear axle? Most people with a Front-Wheel Drive want them on the front so that they can get started, which is a good point, but how much of winter driving actually involves starting? Most driving consists of driving in a straight line, cornering, changing lanes, etc. By putting the 2 winter tires on the front axle, a Front-Wheel Drive vehicle will tend to oversteer from the additional grip provided on ice and snow while the rear axle has less grip, which could send your vehicle “fish tailing” out of control. For an AWD or 4WD vehicle it is not recommended to put on only 2 tires unless the tread depths are no less than 3/32” difference from the remaining tires as the driveline components need to be in perfect sync. The same rule applies to putting the 2 winter tires on the rear axle of a Rear-Wheel Drive vehicle.

When buying winter tires there is more to the experience than simply putting rubber on your vehicle.
  • Budget – How much can you afford? Check your options
  • Rebates – Are there any manufacturer or store rebates available? These are typically available twice per year
  • Storage – If you have 2 sets of tires, 1 will need to be stored for part of the year. Will you do this at home, or does your tire destination have an option for you?
  • Studded Tires – Do you need them for your road conditions? Many tires are being made to not support studs (particularly the top-tier brands) but is certainly still an option
  • Benefits – What added benefits, (free tire rotations and flat repairs, etc.) are available?
  • Warranty – Most tires don’t come with road hazard warranty, but what else is or isn’t covered, and for how long? Can you purchase extra warranty coverage?
  • Timing – When should you put them on – once the flakes start falling, all tires stores and dealerships get very busy, but a good rule to follow is the outside temperature, if the average temperature is +7°C or colder, it is a good idea to change your tires