The first snowfall is right around the corner – if it hasn’t already happened in your neck of the woods. To ensure the safest driving possible during the winter months, it’s time to turn our attention to changing our summer tires to winter tires.

Many individuals drive throughout the year with all-season tires. While these tires are good in all conditions, they are not optimal for harsh winter weather driving conditions. All-season tires are made with a harder rubber than winter tires, so when the temperature drops they stiffen and lose traction. All-season tires also do not have a tread adapted to snow.

Winter tires are made of softer rubber that stays flexible is colder temperatures. They offer better traction to grip on ice and snow. A different tread pattern uses wider grooves for winter road conditions.

Even if your vehicle is equipped with safety features such as electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, don’t think you won’t benefit from having special tires. These features cannot be relied upon in winter conditions as they will not perform up to their intended potential.

You might think you only need winter tires on your two drive train wheels if you don’t have an all-wheel drive vehicle. Think again! All of the vehicle’s tires should be equipped with winter tires as you should never operate a vehicle with different types of tires. You should ensure that the tread depth on your winter tires is appropriate. After continued use, the tread becomes worn and at some point they lose their traction in the snow and ability to evacuate slush. Generally speaking, the proper minimal depth for winter tire is 5/32 of an inch. Any tire with a shallower tread should be replaced.

Some winter tires are better than others; or that is at least what many manufactures would have you believe. Proper snow tires are identified with a snowflake symbol. When shopping for winter tires you should always do your research before you buy.

Many people leave changing over to their winter tires to the last minute. With the unpredictability of our weather patterns these days, it’s a good idea to have your winter tires installed around Halloween to Remembrance Day. Wait any longer and you may find yourself caught in a surprise snow storm, or a freezing rainstorm that leaves an icy roadway. You will also find yourself waiting a few weeks longer to change your tires because of the booking backlog.

Summer tires should come back on around mid-April. We often get a last blast of winter in late March, so err on the side of caution. However, do not wait too long to change them. Winter tires tend to lose grip above 7 degrees Celsius and high temperatures will damage winter tires.

Be sure to store your tires in a cool dry place away from sun and light. Often the garage that changes over your tires will store them for you at a small cost.

Speaking of costs, cost is often a factor when people decide not to buy winter tires. However, keep in mind that having a second set of tires does not double the expense. Since it halves the wear of your tires, you’ll buy new tires half as often. And, be sure to tell you insurer that you have installed winter tires since many insurance companies offer discounts on your insurance for using them.

Although winter tires are not mandatory in Ontario, you will be thankful that you have them on your car when snow builds up on the road or during an ice storm. In Ontario, there has been an increasing number of a winter automobile accidents over the last few years. It is estimated that only 50% of Ontarians drive with winter tires during the cold season. Be part of the 50% that is prioritizing safety in hazardous winter conditions and invest in a pair of snow tires this year if you haven’t got them already.

We at Howie, Sacks & Henry have over 40 years of experience in handling all manner of personal injury claims. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, or are injured in any activity, please contact me by calling (416-361-0889) or emailing mjhenry@hshlawyers.com. I would be happy to answer all of your questions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Personal injury lawyer, Michael Henry is a Founding Partner of Howie, Sacks & Henry. Mike’s practice focuses on exclusively on personal injury law and includes the areas of: Motor Vehicle Accidents; Car Accident Benefits Insurance Claims; Slip and Fall Claims; Long-Term and Short-Term Disability Claims; and, other facets of personal injury litigation, such as recreation/sports injury claims, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents and wrongful dismissal matters. Mike is ranked by his peers in Best Lawyers, and is certified as a Specialist by the Law Society.

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Among the best in Canada

Since 2011 Canadian Lawyer Magazine rated us one of the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Why? With close to 20 years helping accident victims and their families, our firm understands the laws that affect your rights to compensation because we’ve helped shape those laws in favour of accident victims.