8 Winter Tire Tips
It’s that time of year, and our technicians at Universal Ford always get asked the same questions:
“Should we really change to winter tires?”
“Do winter tires really make a difference?”
“Do they really perform better, even if I already have a 4×4?”
We think that, deep down, everyone who asks probably already knows the answer, which is YES! We live in Calgary!
Winter here in Canada is different than it is for our neighbours to the south, which is where all-seasons are most heavily marketed. Our winters here get colder, which decreases performance of the rubber in all-season tires. Calgarians need winter tires, which are specifically designed to function in our winter temperatures to give you the extra stopping power and added traction in slick situations.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you stay safe (and warm) on the road this winter:
1. It’s a simple truth – winter tires just perform better than all-season tires. We even tested them out ourselves, right here in the Universal Ford Lincoln lot. Same vehicle, one with winter tires and one with all-season tires. We applied the brakes on a patch of ice and the stopping distance was noticeably longer with the all-season tires. When you think about a couple of inches that could make the difference from rear-ending someone (and the insurance nightmare that follows), the investment in winter tires starts to look like a the more economical choice.
2. Change to your winter tires at around 5 degrees Celsius, regardless of snow. Some people wait until the first snow of the season in order to change their tires. In reality, 5 degrees is when the rubber on all-season tires starts to lose grip with the road. In Calgary, we have some crazy weather fluctuations and the temperature can drop fast, so it’s best to think about it sooner rather than later. Plus, you’ll beat the rush that comes when the first snow flies!
3. Never mix and match tires. Sometimes we get asked if it is a good idea to put two snow tires on one axle and keep all season tires on the other axle. We would never recommend this. The axle with winter tires will have good grip, while the back axle with summer or all-season tires will not. The chance of loosing control is high. Turning a corner, the front tires are going to bite and grip harder than the back, swinging your car’s back end out.
4. Don’t drive with your winter tires all year round. The rubber compound in winter tires is meant for colder temperatures, and will begin to break down on warm roads. This will cause them to get worn a lot faster in summer. If you have already invested in winter tires, protect that investment and make it last. Universal Ford even offers a year-round tire storage program!
5. You don’t need studded tires for city driving in Calgary. Studded tires are recommended for extremely icy road conditions. Here in Calgary, we have snow-covered roads for a big part of winter. Non-studded tires will work best.
6. Even if you have a 4×4 truck, you still need winter tires. There is a large selection of winter tires for your 4×4 truck for a reason. 4x4s are designed to help you with acceleration and to get out of difficult terrain, but will not help you with stopping distance on icy conditions.
7. Leave changing your tires to the experts. It is always best to have a trained technician do the work on your vehicle, including changing tires. There are multiple things that can be unsafe if you were to do this without the expertise. Most places including Universal Ford can have it done within an hour.
8. When looking at tires, don’t just purchase the lowest priced set. Make sure you have the correct size for your vehicle and wheels, and that the tire carries the winter tire symbol (mountain snowflake symbol). It is always best to lean towards performance when safety is involved.
Once you know you’ll need winter tires, it is best to purchase them with your Universal Ford vehicle. We can finance the tires to you at the same low interest rate as your car! 0% financing on right now is a steal, and don’t forget those rims too!