When To Change To Winter Tires & Take Them Off In Ontario?

winter tires

If you notice that one of your tires is low, the best thing to do would be to drive slowly and find the closest auto repair shop to you to repair your tire. 

While you can get away with the same set of tires throughout all seasons across many geographies, some areas call for switching to winter tires due to colder temperatures and snowy conditions. In a number of regions with cold weather, having winter tires installed during colder months is required by law, and the key reason for that is safety.

Rubber compound used in all-season tires offers extremely low traction in cold weather, and, on top of that, they harden in sub-zero temperatures, which can result in your driving being less safe. On the contrary, winter tires are specially designed to provide better control in cold weather, ice, snow, and freezing rain.

Winter tires consist of a soft compound that ensures greater tire flexibility and thus better grip with the road surface as temperatures drop. In addition, their treads have wider grooves that improve traction on ice and snow.

Are Winter Tires Mandatory In Ontario?

Ontario’s provincial regulations don’t require changing to winter tires, but still, using them is highly recommended to ensure better safety on icy roads. And although using winter tires is mandatory only in Quebec and on certain highways in British Columbia, most car owners in Canada prefer to do it — in 2021, 76% of Canadian drivers switched to winter tires, providing safety as the main reason.

By the way, Ontario offers an incentive to motivate people to drive on winter tires — lower insurance premiums to help save you money.

When To Change To Winter Tires In Ontario?

As a rule of thumb, you should change your tires once there have been seven consecutive days with temperatures below 7°C. Because Ontario is a large province, the average point when the temperature reaches 7°C can be different in its different parts. However, it usually happens from late October to mid-November. 

When To Change Your Winter Tires To Summer in Ontario?

When spring comes and the temperature starts to rise, driving on snow tires isn’t a good choice. They are designed for ice, snow, and cold temperatures, and using them in warm or hot weather inevitably translates into a shorter lifespan of your tires. So when is it the right time to change winter tires to regular ones?

Again, you can use the same rule as for calculating the right time to switch to winter tires, but vice versa. When there have been 7 days in a row with the temperatures going above 7°C, you can change to regular tires and use them throughout spring, summer, and fall. 

What Happens If You Don’t Change Winter Tires?

While winter tires are a vital necessity for safe and smooth winter driving in Ontario, using them in the summer isn’t recommendable. Winter tires are designed to ensure better traction and grip, which is unnecessary in warmer months.

For starters, using them throughout warmer seasons can decrease their lifespan by 60% if compared to winter use only. Next, driving with winter tires in the summer can have adverse effects on your wheels.

Winter tires are made of rubber that is meant to work in low temperatures. They are less efficient at dispersing heat, increasing the risk of overinflating and blowouts. In addition, using winter tires in warmer weather can increase the braking distance by 10% on the dry road and 26% on the wet surface. Last but not least, winter rubber is also more flexible, which can lead to a loss of control at sudden turns.

When the temperature is low, you will notice that your tires are low, the best thing to do then is to drive slowly and find the closest auto repair shop to you to repair your tire. 

Do Winter Tires Use More Gas In Summer?

The answer is yes. Using a winter tire set in the summer leads to higher fuel consumption. The winter rubber is designed to stay soft and the tread tends to change shape. This creates stronger rolling resistance that results in a vehicle consuming more gas when winter tires are used in summer.

Are Winter Tires Worth It Without Snow?

Although winter (or snow) tires are mainly associated with icy or snowy weather, it’s essential to understand that they aren’t just for when it’s snowing. They are designed for your car’s better performance in cold temperatures, so you needn’t wait for the first snow to get your tires changed — as already mentioned, seven consecutive days with temperatures below 7°C are a good indicator to switch to winter rubber.

What Should You Do With Winter Tires After Winter?

If you want your winter tire set to serve you longer, make sure you take storing them seriously. For this, follow the next steps:

  • Clean the tires. Once you’ve had your winter tires changed into summer tires, it’s time to clean them. Use a tire brush and soapy water to get rid of the grime, dirt, and dust.
  • Find a clean space to store your tires. If possible, avoid storing your tires outside or in any other place with sharp temperature fluctuations. The best place for storing tires is a cool and dry basement or garage. Also, make sure you don’t store your tires close to a furnace, water heater, or sump pump — their motors release ozone which can damage your tires.
  • Cover each tire. Next, after making sure your tires are absolutely dry, place each of them into a storage bag. You can either get tire storage bags from a store or use heavy-duty garbage bags — the most important thing is that each bag is properly sealed and airtight. For this, use a vacuum cleaner to suck out as much air as possible before sealing each bag.
  • Stack your tires. If your tires are without rims, lay them flat and stack on top of one another. On the other hand, it’s best to store tires with rims vertically, next to each other. In both cases, it’s recommendable to change their position once a month to reduce pressure on other tires and the rim.

Are All Season Tires Good Enough For Winter?

All-season tires are what most cars come from from the factory. Despite their name, all-season tires don’t mean you can forget about the tire change schedule altogether, especially when you are in Ontario. All-season tires can provide a smooth driving experience in most weather conditions, including rain and very light snow. However, they’re not intended for use in snowfall, on icy or slushy roads, and in sub-zero temperatures.

While you won’t notice much difference between quality all-weather tires and winter tires in the winter on a dry road, driving on slushy, icy or snowy roads is challenging and even dangerous with all-season tires.

Will Summer Tires Crack In Winter?

They’re very likely to. Summer tires aren’t intended for cold weather, even when there’s no snow or ice. Low temperatures make the tire tread harden and lose elasticity, which can result in the tire cracking and chipping off, not to mention lower traction and shorter lifespan of the tire.

Bottom Line

Although regulations don’t require it, changing to winter tires is a wise solution if you’re in Ontario. Investing in a set of four winter tires is safer and more cost-effective than using all-season or summer tires in the cold season. And while most people wait for the snow to switch to winter rubber, they’re wrong — winter tires are meant not only for slush and snow, they ensure better driving experiences in lower temperatures.

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