The tire has come a long way since it was invented. At first, it was just a wheel. The design progressed by adding a rubber strip around the wheel which made for a smoother ride. That said, there was still a lot of work to be done to evolve the wheel to what we know and use today.  

Flash forward! We have so many different types of tires we can purchase for optimal functionality – almost too many.  

One of the most common questions automobile owners ask when purchasing tires is “What is the difference between all-season tires and winter tires?”  

The key difference is the tread on winter tires vs. all season tires. All season tires can harden in low temperatures, so there’s less traction between the road and the tires. Winter tires use a special rubber compound that stays pliable in cold weather, optimizing the tires for winter weather by providing better grip and improved braking in extreme conditions. So now that you know the difference, how do you know which tires are right for your car?  

All-season tires: 

All season tires are perfect for those who are going to be driving in milder winter conditions. For example, heavy rain, snowfall that melts fairly quickly, and slush. They are great for warm, dry and mild wet conditions, too.  

Quick Facts: 

  • All-season tires help provide traction and grip in mild wet and snowy conditions 
  • Manufactured specifically to provide secure handling and even tread wear in both wet and dry conditions 
  • Generally, a harder compound in order to get longer tread life, which starts to lose traction at 7°C and lower 
  • In winter, snow and slush can clog the tire channels, which can create unsafe driving conditions for winter roads 
  • Although all-season tires offer more traction in a variety of different weather conditions, winter tires surpass them when it comes to driving through snow and ice.  

 Winter tires: 

Winter tires are the be-all-end-all for rough winter weather conditions. Most drivers discover that purchasing winter tires helps to provide a sense of confidence and control in challenging winter weather conditions. You’ll need winter tires for harsh winter conditions with lots of snow, ice, and freezing rain on the road. Anyone living in the great white north, or anywhere with harsh snowfalls, should definitely consider upgrading to winter tires for the season.  

While not mandatory in every province, the Canadian Government does recommend the use of winter tires. Some provinces have established stricter rules for winter tires, such as Quebec. In 2007, a law was passed that requires all drivers to have 4 winter tires on their vehicle from December 15th – March 15th 

Winter tires come with many perks, like insurance benefits. As of 2016, legally, insurance companies in Ontario are required to give discounts for drivers who buy winter tires for their cars. These reductions could be a maximum of 5%. This is a great incentive for drivers to remain accountable and keep the roads a safe place to drive.  

At the end of the day, the need for winter tires depends on where you live and what conditions you will face when commuting in the winter months. In Ontario, you will likely want to install winter tires as conditions can range from moderate to extreme.  

Drivers, be cautioned; just because you have had winter tires installed does not mean you shouldn’t be cautious when driving. Accidents do happen, so it’s important to remain as attentive as you would be without winter tires installed. 

 Quick Facts:  

  • Winter tires will provide improved braking performance  
  • You can be confident that winter tires will perform well in all types of winter weather conditions in Ontario – snow, sleet, ice, slush, wet, and even cold dry roads  
  • Winter tires are designed to stay soft in cold temperatures for ultimate grip on snow and ice 
  • They have uniquely formulated tread rubber that helps the tire stay pliable at low temperatures 
  • They feature an aggressive tread that helps to decrease snow build up on the tires 
  • Winter tires can be purchased either studded or non-studded, with several tread options to provide ultimate stability.  

Is it a good idea to leave winter tires on all year round to combat the 4 seasons? We don’t suggest it. All-season tires have specially designed tread patters that result in a smooth and comfortable drive while still performing well in both wet and dry environments. Winter tires function optimally for heavy snow and ice because of the softer rubber they are manufactured with. Softer rubber will wear down faster, which means if you use your winter tires year round, you’ll find yourself replacing them often.  

If you still aren’t sure what you need for your particular situation, come into Jiffy Lube® for an assessment! We can answer all of your tire-related questions, or any other vehicle questions you have.