When Should You Switch to Winter Tires?

When Should You Switch to Winter Tires

The snowy season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to get your car ready for the several months of slushy, slippery driving. This all starts with getting your winter tires put on, and there’s no better place to do it than at your Mazda dealership. If you’re one of many Ontarians still on the fence about switching from all-season to winter tires, here’s everything you need to know about why and when you should swap them out.

Why Switch to Winter Tires?

When it comes to safe driving during this time of year, winter tires are essential. About a quarter of Ontario’s population still uses all-season tires during the colder months of the year, but these should be more accurately named “three-season tires.” All-seasons have lower rolling resistance and are made of a different rubber compound that doesn’t hold up as well to the colder weather, which means they’ll lose traction on the road. Winter tires have been specifically designed to meet the needs of people who live in colder climates since the driving conditions are dangerous. Therefore, other tires just don’t make the cut. 

There are other reasons to get snow tires beyond the increased safety for you, your passengers, and everyone else on the road. While they may not be mandatory in Ontario, they are required in provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, which means that you could incur a hefty fine for driving without them during the snowy season. Ontario has also sweetened the deal for locals by offering an incentive program for having winter tires. Your insurance premiums will be lowered when they’re installed since you’re less likely to get into accidents on the road, and damage isn’t normally as severe if you do. 

7° Celsius and Lower

At 7° celsius and lower, the winter temperatures will start to affect your all-season or summer tires, so this is when you should put on your winter tires. Everything about winter tires, from the rubber compounds to the tread, is designed to grip the ice at the exact temperature other tires would normally start to slide on them.

A better grip means a shorter stopping distance. Not all drivers are equipped with winter tires in Ontario, which means that even if you’re sharing the road with experienced and talented motorists, you’re at an increased risk of a collision if they’re fitted with all-season tires. If someone hits black ice in front of you, for example, having a shorter stopping distance can prevent you from getting in an accident. 

You’ll usually start to hit 7° celsius and lower around the end of October or in early November, so a good time to put your winter tires on is after Thanksgiving and long before Black Friday to avoid running into inventory shortages. You should also watch the weather for temperature trends; if it’s typically below 7° celsius before noon, when the sun is at its apex, then it’s time to get those tires changed. Call your dealership to find out when they have their rush on winter tire changes and book for before then. 

Don’t Wait for Snow

Don’t wait for the first snowfall to get your tires changed. Many cars that aren’t kitted out with winter tires end up in the ditch or in collisions at the beginning of winter because they can’t bring themselves to a stop quick enough on slippery roads. Furthermore, as the weather gets colder, you’ll only be at an increased risk of an accident with the onslaught of black ice and more packed snow on the road. Summer tires and all-season tires aren’t meant to handle these extreme conditions. In cold or freezing conditions, the wheels will stiffen and lose flexibility, decreasing traction. Not only does this put you at risk on the road, but it damages your wheels, which will then have a shorter lifespan and need to be replaced sooner.

Winter always comes faster than you expect it to in Ontario. This year, feel confident when you head out on icy, snow-packed roads by putting on dedicated snow tires. There’s no need to wait to make an appointment with your Mazda dealership to get your tires changed by an experienced technician, either – we’re here to help at Kanata Mazda! Contact us today to speak with a representative or to get more information.