Buying a Tire

bulletThinking of buying a tire?

The maple leaves are red and yellow again, which is the right time for deciding whether you finally want get those winter tires. If you could not pull out from a snowed parking lot last year while other people were riding around and laughing you down then you are certainly due for new tires anyway. So winter tires or all-season, that is the question.

bulletPros and Cons

When it comes to winter traction, an all-season tire can never do as well as a winter tire. The reasons are differences in the rubber the tires are made of and in the tread shape and depth. Summer tire rubber tends to harden at 10°C, all-season at -10°C and the winter tire at -30°C (Celsius). This means the spongy winter tire grips to the surface much better in colder weather and its deeper grooves and specially shaped treads bite into snow more aggressively.

Unfortunately, there are disadvantages too. Winter tires come at an additional purchase cost, because you buy them with extra rims. They also need a twice-yearly changeover and can inconvenience you with the summer storage. They wear off faster and under perform all-season tires in quietness of ride, wet traction, and handling.

The purchase of extra rims should not be a drawback if you want to spare your expensive aluminum rims from the winter road salt. Two sets of tires are also sensible if you intend to keep your car for more than three years. Switching the tires twice a year can be viewed as a little prevention exercise. If you get stuck with a flat tire, it is much more convenient to be able switch it yourself for the spare in your trunk rather than wait two hours on the shoulder for the CAA technician because you do not know how to get under the wheel cover.

The fast wear-off and lower performance of winter tires in other rating categories is more a concern. If you drive mostly in the city or major highways with prevailing wet conditions, rather than snow cover, you can be actually better off with an all-season tire.

bulletHow to decide?

First you must choose between winter and all season tires. If you drive a newer car in winter on narrow country roads with frequent snow and ice cover, snow tires make perfect sense. The same applies to areas with temperatures prevailing under -10°C range in wintertime, such as Quebec, Ottawa or Edmonton. To get an idea about temperatures in your region, look at the daily average temperatures on our pages. For example, you can find out, that as far north as Toronto, temperatures drop under -10°C rarely, which means all-season tires are a reasonable purchase there. logo Winter tire brands are distinguished from other tires on the shelf by the snowflake on a mountain logo. A recognized list of winter tires is published on Transport Canada pages. Go to the list, pick your brand and then find the home pages of the preferred company or tire store.


My car is in the middle of its life span, I live in Waterloo, where the temperatures do not differ much from those in Toronto, and the best all-season tire suggested by Michelin for my 1997 Golf is Energy MXV4 Plus. Though it is not mentioned in the Tire Racks all-season comparison table, its relative, Energy LX4, has a fair rating. On Michelin's pages, my Energy MXV4 is rated better than Energy LX4, which makes it an equally good tire. I was also thinking of the GoodYears Assurance TripleTred and the Michelins HydroEdge. However, one should keep in mind, that the tires are tested for cars with specific weight and construction, and I prefer to believe that GoodYear and Michelin had good reasons not to include my Golf's tire size in its TripleTred and HydroEdge series. Some pages indicate, that Energy MXV4 tires require good maintenance to last, but I will give them a try anyway.

bulletOther Sources

GoodYear's Tire Selector

Michelin's Tire Catalog

Recent Temperature Trends

What You Need to Know About Winter Tires