Best Winter Tires for Canadian Winters 2020


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When temperatures drop below 7°C in Canada, it is time to switch to winter tires. Wet, slushy, snow-covered, and icy roads are common in Canada through the winter, and only a set of good winter tires will keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe.

While all (3) season tires offer fair handling characteristics above 7°C, when the temperature drops below that threshold, rubber compounds used in all-season tires get hard, slippery and give up traction.

They are made of softer compounds that remain pliable when temperatures drop and allow them to stay soft enough to expel snow and slush. This traction and handling increase comes at the price of excess road-noise, but this is an acceptable tradeoff for most.

Each tire on the list has been chosen because it is the best in a way that matters to Canadian drivers (best overall, best new, best value, best on a budget, best performance, best for an SUV, best studded). Also, each tire is rated highly by drivers who review them on Kal Tire, Canadian Tire, 1010 Tires, Blackcircles, and the Tire Rack, where the approximate prices were sourced.

For background information, see our comparison table and buying advice.

Best winter tires of 2020

Best winter tires comparison table

The information and prices in the table below is based on the size 205/55/16, a very common passenger car size suitable for the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra. The only exception is for the SUV tire, as SUVs more commonly use the size 225/65/17. 

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3Michelin X-ice SNOWBridgestone Blizzak WS-90Continental VikingContact 7Pirelli Ice Zero FRGeneral Altimax Arctic 12Yokohama BluEarth Winter V905Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUVNokian Hakkapeliitta 9
Best forOverallRunner-upRunner-upNewValueBudgetPerformanceSUVs & TrucksStudded
Average price per tire$186.42$188.42$170.23$164.61$156.93$139.34$176.77$205.89$198.70
Size range (in.)14″ to 21″14″ to 22″14″ to 20″15″ to 22″14″ to 20″14″ to 19″16″ to 21″16″ to 22″14″ to 20″
Tread depth11/32″10.5/32″11/32″10/32″11/32″12/32″11/32″11/32″12/32″
Warranty (workmanship and materials)5 yrs6 yrs5 yrs6 yrsuntil 2/32″ left6 yrs5 yrs5 yrs5 yrs
Warranty (mileage)No60,000 kmNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
StudsNoNoNoNoAvailableOptionalNoNoYes
Manufactured inFinlandCanadaJapanGermanyRussiaGermanyPhillipinesFinlandFinland
Total Reviews51142835264022514618
Aggregate Rating4.84.64.64.54.84.44.54.94.9

Warranty information includes workmanship and materials, which refers to protection if the tire has a flaw from manufacturing or wears out prematurely as long as records of the required maintenance can be provided. Coverage is typically prorated.

Winter tires do not usually come with mileage warranties, which back a tire for a certain number of km traveled. And no tire remains protected by warranty when less than 2/32” (1.6 mm) remains as that is the legal limit.

It is important to remember that no specific tire brand or model is the absolute right choice for every vehicle and every situation. The road tests that have been conducted test all aspects of winter tire performance including; stopping and starting on snow, ice, wet and dry pavement. These tests also provide feedback on fuel consumption, changes in control and handling and overall ride quality attributes like road noise.

1. Best overall – Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3

  • Compound: silica, rapeseed oil, natural rubber, and Cryo Crystal 3 particles  
  • Size range: 14” to 21”
  • Warranty: 5 years/no mileage
  • Studdable: No
  • Manufactured in: Finland

Only available through Kal Tire outlets in Canada, Nokian winter tires have earned a reputation for handling everything winter can throw at them. 

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 has deep tread blocks with an arrow-like design that channels water and slush away from the tire to prevent slipping and sliding. Other innovative features are small crystal particles that act like tiny studs and 2 different types of sipes (small grooves in the tire tread) that combine to create relentless grip on icy and snowy roads. 

It is made of a special compound that includes silica, rapeseed oil, and natural rubber. These materials generate excellent handling in winter conditions because they keep the tire flexible. Still, it rides comfortably and is very quiet, increasing every day driving ease. 

2 types of tread wear indicators are built right into the tread. The Winter Safety Indicator (WSI) is a snowflake symbol that wears off at a depth of 4/32” to indicate the tire should be replaced. The Driving Safety Indicator (DSI) is a series of numbers on the tread that indicate the depth of the main groove in millimetres. This patented technology makes knowing when to replace the tire very simple and easy. 

  • What sets it apart: simply the best overall winter tire

2. Runner-up – Michelin X-Ice Snow

  • Compound: FleX-Ice 2.0 with high silica content
  • Size range: 14” to 22”
  • Warranty: 6 yrs / 60,000 km
  • Studdable: No
  • Manufactured in: Canada

The Michelin X-Ice Snow is the newest tire in the X-Ice family, with improved hydroplaning resistance and improved durability. It even comes with a mileage warranty, making it the only winter tire that does. 

The deep, v-shaped tread pattern comes with a high void ratio (a high void ratio means there is a lot of space in the large grooves of the tread). Water and snow move into the tread and then away through the v-shape instead of getting trapped between the tire and the road, so slipping and sliding are reduced. 

The full silica-based compound is a unique rubber mix that stays flexible even in severe cold, and the tread contains 2 types of full-depth, interlocking sipes so that the tire will grip the road for excellent accelerating, braking, and cornering all winter. Michelin even says that it outperforms all other winter tires in brake tests on ice and snow.   

Tread wear indicators are traditional rubber bars. When the tire wears to 4/32” the rubber bars are flush with the tread, indicating the tire should be replaced. Overall this is a safe, quiet, and comfortable winter tire that comes second only to the Hakkapeliitta R3. 

  • What sets it apart: mileage warranty of 60,000 km

3. Runner-up – Bridgestone Blizzak WS90

  • Compound: Multicell, silica-enhanced compound with bite particles
  • Size range: 14” to 20”
  • Warranty: no tread-life/mileage 5 years / no mileage
  • Studdable: No
  • Manufactured in: Japan

Bridgestone claims the Blizzak WS90, which replaces the WS80, is improved so much that it will last an extra season. Enhancements in the tread design increase the contact area of the tire so that it stops confidently on ice and snow. It stops so well that Bridgestone claims it leads other winter tires in stopping distance.  

The tread is made of a multicell, silica-enhanced compound that contains bite particles specially made to grip ice, making the tire a leader in control and handling on icy roads. The tread is stiffer and has more interlocking sipes than in the past, which means the tire handles and corners well on dry, wet, and snow-covered roads. 

Tread wear indicators are traditional rubber bars that become flush with the tread at a tread depth of 5/32”, indicating the tire should be replaced, and Bridgestone’s winter wear bars that indicate when the special ice-gripping compound has worn off. Comfort remains good through the tire’s life, though noise levels are about average for a winter tire. 

  • What sets it apart: the best winter tire for icy conditions

4. Best new winter tire – Continental VikingContact 7

  • Compound: Active grip silica and rapeseed oil composition
  • Size range: 15” to 22”
  • Warranty:  6 years / no mileage
  • Studdable: No
  • Manufactured in: Germany

The newest Continental winter tire (on sale since 2019) is the VikingContact 7, a tire Continental has designed to challenge the leading winter tires from other manufacturers. The tread compound contains active grip silica that helps with grip and braking, as well as rapeseed oil that keeps it flexible for superb adjustment to icy and snow-covered roads. 

Continental has designed the tread blocks to link together to create precise handling in all weather conditions. Also, the criss-crossing groove pattern reduces hydroplaning and improves wet road performance. The tire is a bit firm, which reduces comfort but benefits precision handling. 

Tread wear indicators are the traditional rubber bars that become flush with the tread with 5/32” remaining, indicating that the tire should be replaced. Noise levels are about average for a winter tire. Though it is not quite as good overall as the winner and two runners-up on this list, it offers confident handling and strong grip on winter roads. 

  • What sets it apart: combination of good winter grip and good winter handling

5. Best value – Pirelli Ice Zero FR 

  • Compound: special compound in an arrow-shaped, directional pattern
  • Size range: 14” to 20”
  • Warranty: until 2/32” tread remains / no mileage
  • Studdable: No; studdable version available
  • Manufactured in: Russia

Pirelli makes winter tires that can be expensive. The Pirelli Ice Zero FR offers good stability, confident control, and exceptional driving comfort, all at a low price.   

Pirelli’s new interlocking 3D sipes keep the tread stable for a comfortable ride at high speeds on clear roads. A design feature that distributes air pressure evenly throughout the tire works with the sipes for even greater stability, as well as . effective and predictable braking. To add to the impressive levels of comfort, the tread pattern has been designed to lower road noise. 

A second type of siping is angled across the tire to gather water from the road surface, force it into the tire, and then push it away. The arrow-shaped tread pattern improves this wicking effect, creating good grip and handling on wet and icy roads. A special tread compound allows the tire to stay flexible at lower temperatures resulting in good grip in all conditions. 

Tread wear indicators are the traditional rubber bars. When the tread becomes flush with the indicator bar, the tire should be replaced. 

  • What sets it apart: Pirelli design and quality at a good price

6. Best on a budget – General Altimax Arctic 12

  • Compound: innovative polyester casing and polyamide cap
  • Size range: 14” to 19”
  • Warranty: 6 years / no mileage
  • Studdable: Yes
  • Manufactured in: Germany

This tire offers solid winter performance without a high price tag. It even has the option to add studs for improved grip on icy surfaces. 

The tread compound is more traditional, though General says it is an innovative material that stays flexible in colder temperatures for good winter grip. The design has high void angled grooves to channel water away from the tire, making sure that grip is maintained on wet roads. 

The tire has a rigid, interwoven centre rib that offers good steering response and dry road handling. Also, the design provides balanced air pressure distribution so that the tire is safer for a longer time. This feature also creates a comfortable ride.  

Tread wear indicators are the traditional rubber bars that become flush with the tread when it is time to replace the tire. Noise levels are average for a winter tire. 

  • What sets it apart: all that a winter tire should be for a low price. 

7. Best performance – Yokohama BluEarth Winter V905

  • Compound: high-silica compound infused with orange oil
  • Size range: 16” to 21”
  • Warranty: 5 years / no mileage
  • Studdable: No
  • Manufactured in: Philippines

This is one of the best winter tires in Canada because it is eco-friendly, it offers excellent winter traction, and it is performance oriented.  

It is eco-friendly because it is lightweight, which lowers fuel consumption. Also, the tread compound contains orange oil, a product that makes the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly. 

Winter traction is excellent because of the high-silica and orange oil tread compound that keeps the tire flexible and grippy in cold temperatures. The triple 3D sipes in the tread design have many edges which generate even more grip when the road is slippery. 

The wide, slanted tread block design moves water away from the tire to limit hydroplaning, enhancing traction. Two reinforced steel belts run through the tire creating comfort, excellent handling, and stability at high speeds. The combination of excellent traction, handling, and stability make this tire the best for performance cars. 

Tread wear indicators are Yokohama’s snow platform indicators that are molded into the tread grooves to indicate when ice and snow traction will be reduced. 

  • What sets it apart: eco-friendly winter performance

 8. Best for SUVs and trucks – Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV

  • Compound: silica, rapeseed oil, natural rubber, and Cryo Crystal 3 particles  
  • Size range: 16” to 22”
  • Warranty: 5 years / no mileage
  • Studdable: No
  • Manufactured in: Finland 

The tread compound and design for the Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV tire are similar to that for the passenger car version at the top of this list. The tread design is the same arrow-like pattern, and the small crystal particles are a feature of the tread. As with the passenger car version, the grip on icy and snowy roads is excellent. 

Tread wear indicators are the same, the snowflake symbol and the series of numbers that are clearly visible as the tire tread wears. 

What is different is Nokian’s Aramid fibre sidewall technology. The material is the same material used in the aerospace and defence industries, resulting in a very durable and puncture-resistant sidewall. A damaged or punctured sidewall means a tire cannot be repaired, it must be replaced, so this innovative technology will save drivers hassle and money. 

The Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV is a superb winter tire for the road. If you need an all-terrain tire for off-road use, check out the Nokian Rotiiva AT

  • What sets it apart: new sidewall technology to protect you and your tires. 

9. Best studded – Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9

  • Compound: silica, canola oil, and natural rubber
  • Size range: 14” to 20”
  • Warranty: 5 years / no mileage
  • Studdable: Yes, they come with studs
  • Manufactured in: Finland

This tire is older than the Hakkapeliitta R3, but it maintains superb winter performance. As with other Nokian tires, it is only available through Kal Tire. Also, it comes with studs. 

The tire has 2 distinct studs, one for the centre of the tread and a separate one for the shoulder areas. This unique double stud grip creates traction on icy roads, on straight stretches, and on curves better than any other tire. 

The tread compound is similar to the Hakkapeliitta R3, but it does not have the crystal technology because it is studded. Along with the compound, the tread pattern offers balanced and stable handling in all weather conditions. 

Studded tires are quite loud, and some Canadian provinces and cities have restrictions on their use. Make sure to be informed before purchasing studded tires. 

Tread wear indicators are the usual Nokian snowflake symbol and series of numbers that are clearly visible as the tire tread wears. 

  • What sets it apart: unique double stud design

Winter tire buyer’s guide

Look for a snowflake inside a mountain

As recommended by Transport Canada and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, winter tires should have a snowflake inside a mountain on the sidewall of a tire is the indicator that a tire has met or exceeded industry-established severe snow traction performance testing. These tests simulate typical Canadian winter driving conditions – not blizzard-like conditions.

Alternatively, all season tires are often marked with an M & S (mud and snow) but that does not mean that they are off road capable – just not a winter certified tire. They are typically only able to handle light snow.

Make sure to get the right size

It is important to confirm the proper tire and rim size for your car before making a purchase.

Typically found inside the driver’s door jamb, there is a placard that states the factory sizing that came new on the vehicle. You can also check the size shown on the side of the tires that are currently installed, but if you bought the car used the tires and rims may have been changed.

eg. 235/55R17

The first number indicates the width in millimeters; the second is the height of the tire as a percentage of the width (aspect ratio).

Using our example, the tire would be 129 millimeters tall (235 x 55%). The last number refers to the diameter of the rims needed to mount the tire. A letter may appear in front on the tire size that will be a P or LT. These stand for passenger and light truck. It is possible to get a P rated tire for a truck or SUV but the load range (weight restrictions) will not be as heavy.

Ask about the age of the tire before buying

The compounds in tires degrade as they age, dry out and harden whether they are driven or not and the process can be accelerated by exposure to heat and light.

Retailers can legally sell tires that are several years old as new without disclosing when they were manufactured and unless they were stored correctly, may have lost some of their useful life. Some difference between manufacture date and time of sale is to be expected and is acceptable – especially for less popular sizes or specialized versions.

Manufacturers recommend that tires be replaced after 6 years, even if they have hardly been used as age impacts safety and stability of tires. If they are over 10 years old, they should not be used.

Check the age of a tire by looking for what is called the DOT code on the sidewall – every tire made since 2000 will have one. Once you find it, there is a 4 number code that indicates the week and the year it was manufactured (e.g. 2118 means the 21st week of 2018).

Plant codes of Canadian-made tires include:

  • 0X – Minto, NB
  • 4B – Napanee, ON
  • 9B, XY, VN – Joliette, QC
  • AU – Kitchener, ON
  • B3 – Bridgewater, NS
  • BH – Kitchener, ON
  • DC – Whitby, ON
  • D3 – Cobourg, ON
  • D9 – Etobicoke, ON
  • HN – New Glasgow, NS
  • LV – Barrie, ON
  • M5 – Kentville, NS
  • PC – Medicine Hat, AB

When should I change winter tires?

Winter tires are not designed for summer temperatures anymore than summer tires are made for cold winters. Above or below 7°C the compounds used in winter and summer tires began to lose the ability to do what they were designed to do, so swap them when temperatures hit that mark.

How much do winter tires cost?

In general, the range for a typical passenger car size (205/55/16) is $140 – $200 per tire. Tires priced below $100 each should probably be avoided. Kal Tire recommends that you buy the best tire that you can afford that fits your needs. 

Like any product, prices vary a lot based on manufacturer, retailer, purpose, and quality. Also, size and price have a clear relationship – the bigger the tire, the higher the price. Any approved winter tire will give you better traction in winter conditions than any all season tire. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra on winter tires to get the best performance.

Cost concerns

The initial investment in winter tires may seem a bit steep, after factoring in all installation and maintenance costs, you will see that having two sets of tires that both last for 6 years (each used 50% of the year) isn’t much more than only having one set of tires that’s used 100% of the time and lasts 3 years.

Plus thanks to the braking and handling improvements they provide, you also get peace of mind during winter driving – benefits that far outweigh the additional cost.

How do winter tires work? 

Winter tires are designed to stay flexible to maintain grip in cold weather. They include materials like silica to help them grip, and they have softer tread blocks and deeper tread grooves to help push away snow and slush. 

They also have small, thin grooves called sipes to increase the number of biting edges which helps with traction. Some winter tires can be purchased with metal studs, which help with grip on icy surfaces. 

Do you need winter tires if you have AWD?

Yes. The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada clearly indicate that all-wheel drive vehicles need winter tires for safe driving in the winter. Their joint infographic on safe winter driving, produced November 2, 2020, is a great resource. 

Winter vs All Season Tires 

Winter tires are made of softer, more flexible materials to help maintain grip in colder weather. Also, they are designed to push snow and slush away to improve handling. Though all-season tires are acceptable in light snow, at temperatures below 7°C winter tires have superior starting, stopping, and cornering ability, as proven by Tire Rack, Consumer Reports and Kal Tire.

Why do you need winter tires? 

You need them because they have much better starting, stopping, and cornering ability in snowy and icy conditions. 

Having dedicated winter tires and dedicated all-season or summer tires has the added bonus that both sets will last longer – you are only driving on each set for part of the year. All Canadian provinces recommend their use in the winter months and they are mandatory in British Columbia and Quebec.

The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada indicates in its 2020 Winter Tire Report that 72% of Canadian drivers now use winter tires for winter driving.

How long do winter tires last?

With proper maintenance, rotation and storage you can expect them to last 4 to 5 seasons or 30,000 to 40,000 km if you drive the Canadian average of 20,000 to 25,000 km per year and use them 4 months per year. Making sure you have them put on/taken off when the temperature crosses the 7°C mark will greatly help longevity.

Tires should be inspected regularly once they are 5 years old and should not be used at all after they are over 10 years old. 

When should you replace winter tires?

Age, remaining treadwear and overall condition indicate when you should replace your tires. 

Age

They should be replaced once they are over 10 years old.

Treadwear

A new tire typically has 10/32” to 12/32” tread depth. It is against the law in most provinces to use tires with less than 2/32” (1.6 mm). Transport Canada states that tires with less than 5/32″ treadwear remaining should not be used on snow-covered roads and the Automobile Protection Association says you should have that amount remaining at the beginning of winter to ensure good performance until the end of the season. In British Columbia, legal winter tires must have at least 3.5 mm.

Toonie test

You can measure the tread remaining by placing a toonie into the bottom of the groove where the tread is most shallow and ensure it reaches further than halfway up the letters around the silver ring. Most winter tires have indicators in the grooves and you can also use a tread depth gauge for more precision.

Performance tests indicate that they should be replaced when they are 50% worn (at 7/32” tread remaining) to maintain reliable stopping and cornering on winter roads.

Damage

If you notice other damage such as cuts or cracks in the sidewall, bulges, blisters or tread distortion due to age, accidents or poor maintenance, they should be inspected by a tire professional to make sure they are safe.It’s likely time for a replacement to prevent a blowout.

How to maintain them?

Using them only in cold weather as well as proper maintenance and storage will help them last longer.

How often should you check air pressure?

As with any tire, check the air pressure once a month. Be sure to check the pressure when your tires are cold, since pressure increases after driving. A variety of easy-to-use tire gauges are available at auto parts stores. 

Keeping your tires at the right pressure is important so that the tire performs as it should, and so that the tires wear evenly. An over-inflated tire will wear faster in the middle of the tread, while an under-inflated tire will wear faster on the outside of the tread.  

How to check tread depth?

You can measure tread with a toonie or tread depth gauge, and most tires have indicators on the tread to help you know when to replace them. Check your tire manufacturer’s website to find out what kind of indicators your tires have built into the tread and at what tread depth the tire should be replaced.  

Inspect the tread of each tire every time you fill up your gas tank. Walk around your vehicle and look for any damage, objects stuck in the tread, or uneven wear. If you find something that looks unusual, have a professional inspect it so you know your tire is safe. 

How to clean tires?

Clean them by taking your vehicle to a car wash and spraying them off. You can use tire cleaner if you like, but be careful not to get the cleaning product on the tread as it can make your tires slip and slide. This is also a good time to inspect your tires for damage or any unusual wear. 

How to store them?

Store tires in a dry (away from solvents, lubricants, fuels, chemicals), dark (in tire bags to limit their exposure to UV radiation) and cool (below 15ºC) place to slow the aging process and help prevent them from drying out, hardening, and developing cracks. 

Store them far away from electric motors (e.g. furnace, sump-pump), because electric motors give off small amounts of ozone that can damage them. 

If tires are on rims, stack them on each other, no more than 4 high. If they are not on rims, stand them on end and turn them a bit once a month. 

Some retailers offer to store them for you for $40 to $100 per season.

How to rotate tires?

They should be rotated when installed each season or every 8,000 to 10,000 km. Here is a helpful interactive visual about how to rotate tires properly. If storing your own, or changing them yourself, be sure to use a tire pen or marker to mark where they were on the car before you store them.

Balancing and alignment

When first installed on wheels, your tires will be balanced so that they spin properly. They should not need to be rebalanced unless they are damaged. If your car’s steering wheel starts shaking while you are driving in a straight line, you should have a tire professional check your balance and alignment. 

It is a good idea to have a tire shop check your wheel alignment when you do a seasonal tire swap. Most tire shops will check your alignment for no fee or a small fee, though if you need an alignment it will cost from $100 to $200 or more, depending on the shop. Wheels should be aligned properly so that tires do not wear unevenly. Uneven wear can lead to early replacement or, even worse, tire failure.

What pressure should winter tires be?

Tire pressure is determined by vehicle, not by tire. The recommended tire pressure for your car is on the information sticker inside the driver’s door and in your owner’s manual. 

For winter driving in colder temperatures, several manufacturers recommend that you inflate your tires 3 to 5 psi (pounds per square inch of air pressure) higher than your car’s recommended level for summer driving. 

Tires lose pressure in the cold due to air temperature (about 1 psi for every 10°F) and running cooler (less heat buildup) causing them to lose some responsiveness and stability, so an extra 3 to 5 psi helps them perform as they should. 

Should I downsize my winter tires?

You can use a rim and tire that are slightly narrower than your summer tires, however the overall circumference must stay within a few percentage points of the original. Many drivers downsize for winter tires because smaller tires cost less to purchase.

Narrower tires are better in deep snow because they are able to slice through the snow more easily. Kal Tire and Tire Rack have information on downsizing, including how to choose the proper size. 

Think of a pizza cutter cutting down through the cheese and topping to cut the crust. A narrower and shorter tire will cut and roll easier to provide better fuel economy and improved handling.

Can I use just 2?

The simple answer is no. Winter tires change the grip the car has on the road. Only changing 2 out of 4 contact points can have severe consequences. Transport Canada and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada both recommend installing the same tires on all 4 wheels to improve control and stability. It will also help them last longer as they will wear out evenly.

For example, if you were to mount 2 winter tires in the front, you would feel secure traction going into a corner but halfway through, when forces start shifting, the back end may not be able to keep up and could cause you to spin out.

Conversely, if you mount 2 tires on the rear, you may have better acceleration with a rear wheel drive vehicle, but the non winter tires in the front may not be able to grip enough to direct the car around a turn and you could end up in a ditch.

That said, if you can only afford to install 2 winter tires, the general rule is that you want them on your rear wheels regardless of whether the vehicle is FWD, RWD or AWD.

Can you use tire chains on all-seasons instead?

In British Columbia, chains on summer tires are not an acceptable substitute for legal winter tires.

Our guide Are Winter Tires Mandatory? – Laws by Province outlines where and when tire chains are permitted by province.

Do I need studded winter tires?

Studded tires provide excellent traction on icy and hard-packed snow-covered roads, but they come at the expense of noise and ride comfort and may cause damage to paved roads and driveways.

They are not really suited to deep snow conditions and studies have shown they work best around the 0°C mark that can produce black ice conditions. Check your local regulations because they are restricted in some areas and/or at a certain time of year.

Ice radials vs. snow treads

An ice radial is the modern version of a hybrid winter tire. Originally, winter treads had to have deep and wide grooves to provide traction in winter weather and the payoff was ride harshness and noise.

An ice radial tends to look more like an all-season tire (rounded and smoother) than larger snow tread tires (larger square cut grooves). Both have sipes cut into the lugs to provide grip and traction. Unless you regularly deal with severe winter roads covered with deep snow, stick to ice radials for a quieter ride and better fuel mileage.

Where can you buy winter tires?

In Canada, there are several major retail options to shop at including Canadian Tire, Costco and Kal Tire as well as online services such as TireRack.com, 4tires.ca and newcomer to Canada blackcircles.ca.

Most websites have a quoting system to use but be sure to consider shipping costs and exchange rate if ordering from a U.S. retailer. When comparing quotes, make sure they’re for the same model of tire by checking the product’s part number or SKU.

What to read next

Over to you

What kind of winter tires do you have for your vehicle? How long have you had them and what do you think about the handling, traction, noise and fuel efficiency? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

2 thoughts on “Best Winter Tires for Canadian Winters 2020

  1. Great article. In my experience having two set of tires is a lot more costly because of the cost of removing one set and replacing it with another if you have two sets of wheels and even more if you only have one. Most good performing tires (which is what you are writing about) will last more than three years on an averagely driven vehicle. Snow tires don’t last nearly as long as AS and are very susceptible to excessive wear If they are not removed as soon as it is safe to do so. Having summer only tires means you might have to have them mounted Oct-May. Reality is unless you do it yourself with two sets you are going to wait up to three weeks in fast growing areas to have them changed over and longer if you need them dismounted and mounted on a set of wheels.

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