Winter Tires Explained

As the weather starts to change and the colder temperatures make their way into the Hamilton area, we start to think about winter. Sad but true. It’s about to get colder.

With colder weather comes questions about winter tires. Do you really need them? Are they worth the money?

Here are the answers to our most asked questions about winter tires:

Q: Do I really need winter tires on my vehicle?

A: We recommend winter tires because in Ontario (and the Hamilton area), it’s not just about snow.

It’s about temperature.

Winter tires are more effective than all season tires when the temperature is below 7 degrees celcius. The reason for this is because the rubber composition of winter tires contains rubber that stays softer at lower temperatures.

The key here is the temperature – not the elements. And let’s face it – most of our winters in the Hamilton area are experienced at colder temperatures.


Q: Why can’t I just use an all season tire all year long?

A: All season tires don’t have the same rubber composition as winter tires do. When it gets colder, the rubber compounds on an all season tire stiffen and become hard like a hockey puck. This means less grip and less stability.

Think of a all season tire like a running shoe. You can wear running shoes all year but they don’t necessarily work for every situation. In the Hamilton and Ancaster areas, most of us have winter boots that we wear when it’s cold or when it snows. Why? Because they give us more stability.

Here is what we recommend:

Rotate your all season tires with your winter tires every Fall. Then switch them back in the Spring. It will help to extend the tread on all tires – meaning both sets should last longer. It’s also more environmentally friendly.

At John Bear Hamilton, we can store your offseason tires for you! No need to worry about finding a place to store them at home.


Q: Do winter tires have more braking power than an all season tire?

A: Winter tires have increased braking abilities that help to reduce braking distances. This could make the difference of stopping up to 30 feet later with an all season tire versus a winter tire.


Q: Do I need winter tires even if I change my driving habits in bad weather?

A: We hear this from a lot of our customers! And we agree that we all need to adjust our driving habits in inclement weather. But that isn’t enough.

We need to be confident that our traction and braking systems will perform as intended.


Q: Are winter tires worth the money?

A: In our opinion, your safety and peace of mind are worth the investment. The cost of winter tires can easily be offset from just a simple slide into a curb. We have seen so many damaged or bent wheels which can add up to repairs that end up costing more than winter tires.


Q: How much should I soend on winter tires?

A: Like most things in life – you get what you pay for. Like all season tires, a better winter tire will outperform a non premium winter tire. And it also worth noting that a premium winter tire will retain their abilities throughout the life the tire – not just for the 1st season or two of tread.


Our service team is always happy to answer any questions you have about tires or any vehicle maintenance or repairs.