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Winter tires: does the investment pay off?

Chances are that you’ve experienced a moment of panic on winter roads, trying to brake in slippery conditions, but the tires won’t grip.

While most Canadians have experienced this scenario – and understand the importance of installing winter tires – not everyone uses them.

A 2015 survey by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada discovered that, outside of Quebec where winter tires are mandatory (from Dec. 15 to March 15), more than 50% of Canadian drivers do not install winter tires. Why not? Top reasons include the expense and the belief that all-season tires are good enough for winter driving. Well, think again…

Cost vs. performance

Though the cost of winter tires varies widely, four tires on rims (plus installation and balancing) can average around $1,000. Add in storage expense and you can see why so many stick with their all-seasons year round.

But, the idea of foregoing winter tires to save money doesn’t add up when you look at the most important element of winter tires: their performance.

The rubber in all-season tires begins to lose its elasticity and harden at 7 C, and that means a loss of traction. The latest generation of winter tires maintains flexibility at extremely low temperatures (to around –40 C), providing up to 50% more traction than all-seasons.

The investment pays off

In an accident, a $500 deductible represents approximately half of what you could have spent on winter tires. What’s more, insurance premiums can be affected (depending on fault), and other costs may arise in connection with time lost from work, personal injury and recovery. In the end, you could pay as much as you would have for winter tires—and still be in a position of needing them.

Using winter tires also prolongs the life of primary tires. Instead of buying two sets of all-season tires over the lifetime of your car, you’re buying one set of winter tires and one set of all-seasons.

There’s also your potential insurance discount. Depending on your province, you could be eligible for a discount on your auto insurance of up to 5% for installing winter tires.

Simply put, winter tires are an investment in the most significant winter consideration of all: the safety and protection of yourself and those around you.