What happens when you use your winter tires all year round?

Let’s say you’re trying to stretch your tire budget this year and there’s only enough for one set of tires. You might think, I’ll buy winter tires because conditions are worse in the winter, and I’ll drive them all year long.

Unfortunately, winter tires weren’t designed for year-round use, and even though they’ll keep your vehicle rolling in July, you’ll be sacrificing performance, fuel economy and the life of your tires.

Why winter tires aren’t designed for year-round use

Tire engineers have spent decades perfecting rubber compound formulas to stand up against specific weather conditions at different types of year.

The compound of a winter tire is designed to stay soft and give grip at temperatures below 7 C. All-season and summer tires have a harder compound that gives their best grip at temperatures above 7 C, and on warm, dry and mild wet conditions.

There’s also the tread pattern of your tires. Winter tires have an aggressive tread pattern that’s perfect for biting ice and snow and pushing away slush, while all-season and summer tires offer quiet, comfortable low rolling resistance rides in dry and mild wet conditions.

The risks of driving your winter tires year-round


• Faster wear and possibly uneven wear

On warm and hot road surfaces, a winter tire’s rubber compound will wear quickly, and because of the unusually fast wear, that wear may be uneven. Winter tires are meant to last two or three seasons, but when they’re on your vehicle 12 months in a row, you’re going to have to replace them a lot sooner.

• Poor performance on dry pavement

Winter tires are designed to give superior traction on ice and snow. On dry and wet roads, however, you’re sacrificing handling. In addition, winter tires in the summer will be squirmy and noisy.

• Fuel economy

Summer tires have a harder compound that makes them roll easily, and that means savings at the pump. You’ll definitely spend more on fuel by driving your winter tires year-round .

If you only have the budget for one set of tires this year, but it’s time to replace both, now you don’t have to choose between summer and winter tires. The Nokian all-weather tires are a designated winter tire with class-leading grip and stability in both the cold and warm months.

Check out our post Nokian All-Weather Tires: A Winter Tire You Can Use All Year Long.

It’s important to have the safety and peace of mind that comes from having a tire that’s right for your needs. Let our tire experts help you choose the best tire for you at a Kal Tire location near you today.

Feature Image: ©iStockphoto.com/supergenijalac  

All-weather Tires: One of the Best Winter Tires for City Drivers

When Nokian designed its year-round all-weather tire, it had European drivers in mind. They have mild winters, they don’t have garages, they’re fuel conscious, and they fly on the Autobahn.

Sound familiar? All-weather tires such as the Nokian WR G2 and G3 are gaining traction in North American cities, where urban drivers are discovering they need the safety of a winter tire without the hassle of storing and installing a second set of tires.

In Canada, more and more drivers in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto are turning to all-weather tires because they offer everything an urban driver needs.

Why all-weather tires are a great winter tire for urban drivers


Superior handling for mild winter climates

All-season tires just aren’t good enough in the winter. They don’t have the right rubber compound to stay soft below 7 C or the right tread pattern to grip even wet ice or soft snow. All-weather, tires, however, can do that, and more.

• The rubber compound is designed to stay soft at temperatures above and below 7 C to grip everything from wet roads and snow to slush and bare asphalt.

• An aggressive tread design prevents hydroplaning and helps you stop instantly on wet roads.

• Slush edges and polished grooves push away snow and water for extra grip in slippery conditions. This is important because slush is the second-most dangerous driving condition, and the most common.

• The Nokian WR tires bear the severe service mountain snowflake emblem so you know it’s passed requirements to be considered a true winter tire.

Gentle on your pocketbook and the earth

• Since all-weather tires give excellent year-round stability and handling, you’ll only have to buy one set of tires. Plus you won’t have to worry about the hassle or expense of storing and installing a second set of tires twice a year.

• As a lightly rolling tire (it takes less energy for the tires to roll), you’ll emit less C02 and save on fuel. Plus, Nokian’s all-weather tires are made with tear-resistant, earth-friendly materials such as natural rubber and canola oil.

Recently dubbed a ‘winter tire you can use all year long’ by Consumer Reports and rated #1 in Performance Winter Tires, the Nokian WR all-weather tire is a superior winter tire, summer tire and high performance tire all rolled into one.

What are some of the reasons you switched or you’re considering switching to all-weather tires?

Legally Bald: Why Worn Winter Tires are Bad for the Road and Your Record

Have you ever heard of the expression ‘legally bald’? Driving tires with plenty of tread depth isn’t just best for your handling and safety, it’s the law.

You can usually spot a bald tire when you see one. Instead of raised, bumpy grooves rocks could get stuck between, there are no grooves, no tread at all. Just a smooth, flat surface that’s incredibly dangerous and even grounds for legal charges.


When is a tire considered legally bald?


According to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act, cars and light trucks are considered legally bald when the tread depth reaches 2/32 inches or 1.5 millimetres on your summer tires.

For winter tires, the act states you can’t have less than 3.5 millimetres or 4/32 inches of tread depth left.


What happens if you drive legally bald tires?



Have you ever seen shreds of tires drifting along the side of the highway? Those are the result of a tire blowout, albeit from commercial transport trucks. The fact is, the balder your tire is, the thinner and closer to a blowout it is, especially on the highway.

When you’re driving say 110 kilometres an hour or more and your tire blows out, and you lose control of your vehicle, you and the people near you could get seriously hurt, or worse.

Poor handling, including hydroplaning

With no tread to push away water, grip snow or bite ice, your tires are as good as a hockey puck. Without any traction, you could be at risk of sliding on turns, hydroplaning or slush-planing. In the summer, your tires also won’t be able to handle the heat generated when you turn corners on dry roads.


Let’s say you’re in an accident. Your vehicle can’t stop or turn, or you lose control after a blowout, and that leads to a crash, injury or death. When the police investigate the crash, they’ll check your tires. If your vehicle’s handling contributed to the crash, and if one or more of your tires has less than the legal minimum tread depth, you can be charged.


How can you measure your tread depth?


For optimum safety and handling, you should consider replacing your tires when the tread depth reaches or 4/32 to 3/32 inches, or 5/32 inches if you live in an area with wet road conditions.

Not sure how to check your tread depth? Check out our post on tips for measuring tread depth or visit a Kal Tire location near you for help from the tire experts.

Do you have any horror stories about the dangers of driving with bald tires?

How do winter driving conditions vary across Canada? What your winter tires want you to know

Are you planning a road trip to break in your new winter tires? Driving conditions in Canada can vary wildly, even within a single province, and it’s important to know what you can expect and how to react to keep your tires on the road.

To help you prepare for winter driving, we’ve created an outline of the kinds of road conditions you can expect to see from coast to coast.

How winter driving conditions vary from region to region in Canada:

The coasts

Even throughout the winter months, roads along the West Coast won’t see much snow. As temperatures drop, however, the much more common rainfall can turn into sleet.

Be prepared for slippery roads and light flurries, though the West Coast usually sees light snow at least a few times a year. Near the water and through valleys, you can also expect a lot of fog, especially in the morning. Tires with strong wet grip and good windshield wiper blades are a must.

While West Coast conditions are generally mild, drivers on the East Coast are more apt to see winter storms, including high winds and heavy snowfalls as well as freezing rain.

The mountains

When you’re driving through the mountains in B.C. and Alberta, be prepared for extremes—everything from blizzards to black ice.

Because of the elevation, highways in the mountains see heavy snowfall and blowing snow all the time. Be just as wary after temperatures warm and then freeze in the span of a few hours because that’s when puddles become black ice.

Many mountain highways, including the Coquihalla Highway and the Trans Canada Highway along Rogers Pass, require vehicles to be outfitted with winter tires bearing the severe service mountain snowflake symbol . For extra safety on steep roads, some drivers also add studs or chains.

The Prairies and central Canada

Winter tires get put to the test in many Canadian provinces. Severe storms strike roads in the Prairies and central Canada all the time.

From heavy snowfall to hail and blizzards to freezing rain, you need to be prepared for the worst in Canada, especially if you’re driving on the highway. Road conditions can go from one extreme to the next in a matter of minutes and high winds can pick up fast in the countryside, so it’s important to pay attention to traffic reports.

Because you’ll need superior grip for ice, hard-packed snow and extreme temperature lows, be sure your winter tires still have a good tread. Not sure if you need new winter tires? Check out our post on measuring tire tread.

When you’re heading out on the highway anywhere in Canada, be sure to check each province’s road conditions online for daily changes in the weather.

What parts of Canada do you love or avoid driving along in the winter? Share your stories.

Photo Credit: Karol Kozlowski/Shutterstock.com

What’s the difference between all-season tires, all-weather tires and winter tires?

If you’re not sure how all-season tires are different from all-weather tires, or how you can tell if a tire is truly winter rated, you’re not alone.

We hear from a lot of drivers who don’t know the difference between all-season and all-weather tires. With so many great tires on the market today, it’s easy to get confused.

In Canada, your safety depends on having the right winter tires, so we thought we’d help make it easy for you to understand what makes each of these tires unique with a handy little infographic.

 Kal Tire Tire Comparison Info-graphic

Understanding the difference between all-season, all-weather and winter tires helps you find the tire that’s best for the driving conditions you face in your region. Visit a Kal Tire location near you for expert advice.

Comparing how tires perform at different temperatures and on different surfaces—from ice and snow to slush and rain—can help make it easier to see why using winter tires or all-weather tires can help you stick to the road this winter.

Do you need new tires? Find out for sure which tire is best for your region, your budget and your driving habits by visiting the experts at a Kal Tire location near you.

Have you recently put on your winter or all-weather tires? What do you notice about the handling compared to your summer or all-season tires?

Photo credit: Timothy Epp/Photos.com