Winter Tire Ultimate Guide

Do You Really Need Winter Tires?

We tried to answer every question you might have about winter tires in this article and let you decide for yourself whether you need winter tires or not.


In order to understand the Importance of winter tires, a basic understanding of their safety features, as well as knowledge of case studies and vehicle accident statistics are required.

1.) What are the Safety Features of Winter Tires?

Winter tires are specially designed to help you stop on snow-covered roads. With all-season tires, the rubber starts to get more hard and stiff at 7 degrees Celcius. Winter tires are manufactured using a specific type of rubber that helps to keep the tire from hardening due to the cold temperatures, which increases the tire's grip, adherence, and maneuverability.

On a moderately-packed snow-covered road, winter tires will reduce the vehicle's stopping distance by 6 feet when it traveling 32km/h. When using summer tires, the braking distance is two times longer on a wet road than it is on dry roads, four times longer on snowy roads than it is on dry roads and 8 times longer on icy roads than it is on dry roadways.

2.) Do Winter Tire Really Help Avoid Accidents?

Quebec Vs. Germany Case Study

In 2008, Quebec and Germany both passed a law that mandates the use of winter tires during the colder months. Since that the new mandates, vehicle accidents in these areas have reduced greatly. In fact, Quebec, which already had 96% of its drivers using winter tires, saw a five percent decrease in automobile accidents after the law went into effect. The majority of German motorist, however, were not using winter tires during the colder months, but once they passed the mandate to use winter tires, they saw over a 50 percent decrease in car accidents in their country.

3.) What's Canada's Winter Tire Usage Rates by Province?

Even though there is no law in place that requires drivers in other parts of the country to use winter tires, over half of the Canadian population still equip their vehicles with a reliable set of winter tires every year. A study that was conducted in 2015 found that 66 percent of Canadians use winter tires.

The Winter Tire Association of Canada in 2015 found the percentage of residence that use winter tires in various provinces. The following is data from that study:

• Quebec: 100%
• Ontario: 59%
• B.C.: 60%
• Maritime: 83%
• Alberta: 57%
• Man/Sask: 48%

4.) What are the Average Snowfall by Temperature and by Province?

Any amount of snow can cause slick roadways. The following information shows the average temperature and snowfall in major Canadian cities. The amount listed is an average that was calculated by gathering information from the years 1981 through 2010.

Many areas in Canada have an extended period of winter-like weather. The following cities have an average temperature of below freezing for the Months of November, December, January, February, and March:

  • Calgary
  • Edmonton
  • Quebec City
  • Regina
  • Saskatoon
  • Winnipeg

In addition to having extreme cold temperatures for a long period of time, there are also many cities that have a large amount of snowfall at various times throughout the year. The following list popular Canadian cities with average snowfall:

Calgary: 22.7cm in March
Edmonton: 24.5cm in January
Halifax: 43.1cm in January
Moncton: 67.4cm in January
Montreal: 49.5cm in January
Ottawa: 44.3cm in January
Quebec City: 72.4cm in December
Regina: 19.5cm in December
St. John: 64.3cm in December
Saskatoon: 12.1cm in November
St. John's: 88.7cm January
Toronto: 37.2cm in January
Vancouver: 16.4cm in December
Winnipeg: 23.7cm in January

5.) Fatalities Vs. Injuries From Car Accidents?

Car accidents can come at any time of the year. However, there does seem to be an increase in car accidents all over the country in the winter months. There is actually a 3.1% to 4.7% increase in car accidents that result in injury in December and January. There are a lot of factors that can affect the car accident rate, such as age and how much sleep a driver has, however, those different factors are always present throughout the year, and yet, there is still an increase in Canadian car wrecks in the middle of winter.

Statistics show that between the years of 1996 and 2015, the number of fatal car accidents has gone down from 3.129 to 1,858. That is a drastic reduction and the number of fatal car crashes is only expected to go down even further as the citizens of Canada learn more about winter tires.

What Are the Costs and Benefits of Having Winter Tires on a Vehicle?

Due to their advanced design and superior handling, there are several benefits to owning winter tires. However, one factor that continues to dissuade people from buying winter tires is the misconception that they are an unnecessary added expense. Contrary to popular belief, winter tires can actually save drivers a lot of money in future expenses. As long as the buyer has an understanding of what type of tire to buy and where to buy them, they can actually be a cost-effective way to ensure the safety of all occupants inside of the vehicle.

Where to Buy Winter Tires?

In Canada, there are several places to buy a new or used set of winter tires. Big box stores, such as Costco or Walmart, usually have cheaper installation costs. Customers that are looking for a large selection can go to specialized stores or online marketplaces and search through classified ads to find winter tires. Shopping for winter tires at car dealerships may allow the consumer to find a set of tires at a discounted or special promotion price.

What's the Average Costs of Winter Tires?

The average cost of tires can vary widely depending on the type of vehicle that they tires will go on, and if the tires will be bought new or if they will be slightly used. The following data shows the average cost of winter tires for each vehicle

New Winter Tires (no rims):

• Sedans - $700 - $900

• SUVs - $1,400

• Trucks - $1,600

• Rims - $80-$140 per rim

Used Winter Tires (no rims)

• Sedans - $400 - $500

• SUVs - $700 - $875

• Trucks - $800 - $1,000

• Rims - $40 - $60 per rim

What are the Benefits of Having Winter Tires?

When drivers choose to switch to winter tires during the colder months, they have the ability to save money by:

• Not having to file an insurance claim, which can save drivers a lot of money on insurance rates.

• Save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on repair and maintenance cost.

• Winter tires can help to ensure that the vehicle does not get stuck on the side of the road or in snow banks. This can save drivers not only a lot of time, but also money in fuel.

• Canadian government removed a 2015 mandate that prevented insurance companies from increasing rates. Now, instead of going through the FSCO to increase premiums, they can reduce discounts on things like winter tires.

Is There A Downside To Owning Winter Tires?

Even though there many positives to owning winter tires, there are also negative aspects to having them as well.

1.) Upfront Costs. Because of their specially designed rubber, winter tires can have larger upfront cost, which includes installation costs. Some winter tire brands will offer a tread life warranty that covers up to 35,000km. However, for brands that don't offer a warranty, owners will have to repurchase a new set of tires every three to four seasons.

2.) Storage Costs. During the summer months, when winter tires are not in use, owners will have to find a storage facility to keep them in. Some storage facilities can cost around $60 to $80 to store the winter tires.

3.) Time-consuming to install. Winter tires can take longer to install than other types of tires. Dealerships can usually install winter tires that already have rims in about 20 minutes. The average person can usually install winter tires with rims by themselves in about 45 minutes to an hour. If the tire does not already have a rim it can take a dealership or service department around 30 to 45 minutes to install.

Common Misconceptions

One of the reasons why most people are reluctant to get a set of winter tires is because they are under the impression that winter tires consume more fuel than other types of tires. However, in the winter months, gas consumption usually increases by an average of 10 percent. Sub-zero temperatures, heating elements in the vehicle, and road conditions are what causes the increase in gas consumption.

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