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The advantages of winter tires over all season tires

Dettmer Tire And Auto Service suggests the safest option

The change in season from fall to winter requires a change in driving habits.

The challenges presented by snow, ice, and slush requires drivers to adjust to conditions with a more cautious approach to being on the road regardless of the vehicle being driven. Reducing speed and leaving more room for braking are two ways drivers can improve their chances of getting through winter accident free.

Another way is ensuring all vehicles are riding on the best tires for the season.

What exactly is the best tire for winter in Ontario? Severe swings in weather brought on by climate change make it hard to accurately determine what kind of conditions winter will bring; for example, conditions in Southwestern Ontario are vastly different than conditions in Northern Ontario. However, to ensure the safest ride, the best type of tire to choose is obvious according to Josh Adams, office manager at Dettmer Tire and Auto Centre in downtown Guelph.

“A true winter tire is going to give you the best winter grip in snow, slush, or ice,” said Adams. “It all comes down to composition and design. A true winter tire is going to have a soft compound that doesn’t harden as temperatures go down, which is why it wears down faster when the road temperature is seven degrees or higher.”

All winter drivers are left with the choice of riding on winter tires, all-season tires, or all-weather tires.

Knowing the subtle differences in the level of safety each style of tire provides is important to making an informed decision on what to buy.

“An all-weather tire is a winter tire designed for year-round use that performs at least 10 percent better than an all season tire,” said Adams. “All season tires are summer tires you can also use year-round.

According to Adams, there are a number of excellent choices of pure winter tires, including Michelin, Nokian, Pirelli, Firestone, Goodyear, Dunlop, and even an entry-level tire like Hercules. All of those are available at Dettmer Tire.

However, for the best choice, Adams suggests there’s really only one name to consider for the highest performance in winter tires.

“The best pure winter tire in my opinion is the Bridgestone Blizzak,” he said. “They’ve got a really great track record especially lasting over time through the tire’s life. And they offer the best safety protection given their ability to provide drivers with short-braking capabilities in slippery winter conditions.”

The science behind winter tires is simple.

When a winter tire presses down on snow or ice, it melts the top layer, creating a thin film of water in the same way a skate glides across a sheet of ice. Winter tires are designed to move that water away from the area in front of the tire so it doesn’t hydroplane. Even when a vehicle is riding on the best winter tires available, Adams cautions drivers to be aware of what tires are designed to do and what limitations they have in severe winter conditions.

“It’s important to realize that winter tires are just designed to give you the best possible traction,” said Adams. “They channel snow, slush and water. The tread pattern is designed to grab the snow so it stays in place as the tire spins.”

Most insurance companies offer discounts from November through April for riding on true winter tires. Given the warm fall the Guelph area has experienced, many drivers have procrastinated in making the switch to winter tires. That means the annual seasonal rush is underway.

“There are a lot of people trying to get them on now,” said Adams. “It’s important to book in advance.”

Book your tire swap today at either of the two locations of Dettmer Tire, 325 Eramosa Road or 23 Cork Street East in Guelph. Visit them online here.