Types of Tires
The saving grace for many Canadians, winter tires incorporate different types of rubber and treads that maximize traction in snow, sleet, ice, and generally cold winter conditions. You’ll want to pick the proper winter tires by first analyzing your driving style and required uses of your vehicle.
Some general tips for selecting winter tires:
- Choose a narrow winter tire in order to better cut through the snow.
- Pick a winter size tire that is similar in size to your vehicle’s base model tires.
- Ask your Certified Service technician about rims and winter wheels.
Winter tires remain softer than summer or all-season tires in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius, which helps them both handle hills, turns, and brake more readily than their counterparts. But you should also consider a winter tire’s speed and pressure ratings. Winter tires feature a Q-speed rating, which indicates its allowable range of speeds, and this number is generally lower than regular use tires. When it comes to pressure ratings, frigid and cold winter air causes tire pressure to decrease, so it is necessary to inspect your tire pressure more often than during the warmer months. The proper pressure for the tires will be written both in your owner’s manual and also on the outer sidewalls of the tires, themselves.
Competent at everything, master of nothing. All-season tires are designed for use year round, and depending on when and where you plan on driving, will most likely do the trick. If you live in B.C. with its dramatic weather swings, all-season tires might be the only tires you can get away without changing all year. They function through a blend of various tire compounds and technologies, paired with tread patterns that are designed to function competently across a wide range of conditions.
But all-season tires are not perfect. What you gain in versatility and fewer maintenance visits, you lose in performance over more specialized tires. They are also not as effective on snowy highways, where you may want them the most.
All-seasons come in two basic classes: Touring tires and passenger tires. Touring tires provide low noise and greater handling, while passenger tires give a smoother ride and generally will last longer. One more tip to note is to inspect the manufacturer’s markings along the sidewall: some feature the four seasons icons, and most are branded M+S (Mud and Snow).
There was a time when performance tires were only found on exotic sports cars with hurricanes under their hoods. But tire manufacturers eventually realized that people across all makes and models want to capture that same road feel, even if it’s in a Buick instead of a Lamborghini, so now they are available for almost every type of car, truck, and SUV. They also come special for most categories of road conditions, too, like snow, cold weather, and even off road.
The four main classes of performance tires are as follows:
- Performance: Meant for drivers who want to up the style and low-speed traction of their vehicles.
- High-Performance: Meant to increase handing and stability at high speeds.
- Ultra High-Performance: Meant for extreme performance, typically the fastest tires one can find on the most exotic supercars and luxury sedans out now.
- Competition: These are meant for specific race events. They are technically street legal, though they aren’t very practical for commuter purposes due to their groove-free design and special racing compounds.
Treads are typically shallower on performance tires, and are usually wider for greater road contact, too. Most buyers who opt for performance tires do so to increase handling, cornering, and traction ability over what they are capable of from their stock OEM tires.
Truck tires have caught up with the rest, now offering several different models for work and performance, depending on the type of truck:
- Utility: Identifiable by its staggered tread pattern which provides advanced traction for snow, mud, and off-road driving, the utility tire also resists wear more than most.
- All-Terrain: Incorporates multiple tread patterns with a durable compound. They are also approved by the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC).
- Highway Use: These tires are designed with enhanced compounds to provide smoother rides, and can be used in all seasons.
- Performance: Advanced tires that are built to withstand higher speeds, while providing better braking and handling in all road conditions.
- Off-Road: Tires with the most aggressive tread design you will find, meant for challenging off-road conditions and able to power through snow, silt, mud, and more.
Despite their larger size, truck tires are as straightforward to replace as car tires. Two things that you will want to consider, however, are load rating and tire pressure, especially if you plan to use your truck for heavy duty work. Important: when determining the maximum payload and tire replacement load ratings, consult the truck specifications in the owner’s manual, and not what is listed on the sidewall of the truck. The minimum rating of either will be your load and tire pressure limit, and that will usually correspond to the truck’s specifications.
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