Choosing the right winter tires for you
Great! You’ve made the decision to outfit your vehicle with a set of winter tires. Now you’ll be able to stop, turn, and accelerate better, making you safer throughout the winter and early spring.
This is the point where most people either take a browse online or step into a store and find themselves confronted with several tire manufacturers, and model names that look like alphabet soup. Luckily for you, there are very few “bad” picks out there now, and anything you pick will be significantly better than all seasons or summer tires, but, depending on your vehicle, budget, and typical use, there are some models that may be a better pick for you.
The following is not intended to be a comprehensive review of each tire (for that I would check out tirerack.com or Edmunds.com for their more comprehensive tire reviews).
This is a high-level overview, and my personal picks.
You live in a mountainous region, and your neighbors are mountain goats
Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded
If this is your situation, you’re probably best served with a studded tire to make sure you’ve got the extra assurance of traction in icy, treacherous conditions. Nokian is the best here, with the only weaknesses being road noise, and braking on dry pavement.
You live outside of a major city, or spend more time in snow than on ice/pavement
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
If you find that you’re more often driving through snow instead of on top of it, the Blizzak WS80 is your best bet. Its superior snow traction will keep you right side up in the winter months but is just shy of the top tier for handling on ice.
You live in the city, or spend the most time on ice and pavement
Michelin X-Ice 3
For most people, the facts are you live in the city, and your streets either get regularly plowed, or the snowed gets packed down and compressed into ice. Or, in intersections, where the hot undersides of vehicles also contribute by melting the top layer and turning those areas into a fresh skating rink. The X-Ice 3 is the king of ice handling and has superior grip on cold dry pavement as well. It cedes a bit of deep snow capability for this, but in this scenario, you come out well ahead with this tire.
You want the best money can buy, and don’t mind spending more to get it
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
Other than being hard to spell, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 is the best all around tire available currently. It comes just short of the Michelin X-Ice 3’s ice capability, while being even better than the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80’s snow capabilities. These advantages come at a cost with a set of 4 ranging from $100-400/set more than the Michelin’s, and $200-$500 more than the Bridgestone’s depending on size and specs required. The other issue is availability, as Kal Tire is the exclusive distributor in Canada, so if there’s not a location near you, it can be inconvenient to get your hands on a set.
So, now you’re set for winter! And, if you happen to need a vehicle to go with your new tires,
get in touch with us so we can help you find the vehicle of your dreams for the right price!