What To Know About Winter Tires in Calgary
Have you ever slid down 14th Street NW by Confederation Park on a cold winter day? Or been stuck in the hills of Mount Royal and Bankview, unsure if you’ll clear the piles of snow that line the streets? It doesn’t take much for drivers here to realize that in Alberta, winter tires are a must. In Calgary, winter tires can be the difference between a safe ride home and a frustrating delay on a freeway or through the suburbs.
When to Replace Winter Tires
Changing winter tires should be something you do proactively, rather than in a panic after the first snow has fallen (i.e., when everyone else is doing it, too). Generally, once the average temperature readings at YYC are below 7° C during the day, you can confidently swap your all-season or summer tires out.
But it’s not just about when you put them on – in order to be effective, winter tires need more tread and less wear than all-seasons. So before you mount last year’s set for the winter, take note of a few things and brush up on your winter tire ratings.
Winter Tires Tread Depth
If you’re handy enough with tools, you can check this for yourself with a tread depth gauge. It measures how deep the grooves on your tires are – and here, even tiny variations can make a big difference. New tires typically have about 8 to 9 mm of depth (just over a quarter inch), and if your winter tires are down to 4 mm or less (5/32”) – generally, after 3 or 4 seasons of driving – they will not offer any extra protection or control. That’s the kind of information that will help before you head down Stoney Trail during a blizzard
Winter Tires Pressure
Extreme freeze/thaw cycles – like the ones we have every year in Calgary – can cause damage to materials that are constantly expanding and contracting. The rubber in your tires is fairly flexible, but even still, you’ll want to make sure it holds pressure and weight before you drive away. Small hairline cracks in the material can lead to slow leaks and a loss of control, so check before you install – the recommended psi for winter tires is usually between 30-35
Studs for Winter Tires
Some winter tires are studdable – meaning you can add small spikes that jut out from a tire’s outer surface, providing increase grip on icy roads and snow. If you’ve had these before, they are likely worn down or lost over time, which means it’s time to replace the tires, too.
Note that not every winter tire can or should be studded. If you try to add them to an unsuitable tire, it will cause more issues than you are solving, so make sure it’s the right type beforehand.
How Much Do Winter Tires Cost?
The question everyone in Calgary wants to know: how much will a new set of winter tires cost?
This depends on a lot of things: aside from the brand, the rims, the included package, and deals from your mechanic, there are other factors that can affect price, like size and special orders
The Most Common Winter Tire Brands
There are dozens of different tire companies to choose from, each offering their own version of treads and design. However, for Calgarians looking for affordable winter tires (and rims packages), the most common selections are:
Winter Tires With Rims
Something that people often overlook is the additional cost of a second set of rims to mount your winter tires on. (You can remove your previous set and put the winters on the same rims, but it will cost you extra for labour – and Calgary’s salty winter streets will likely damage them, too.)
If you’re buying a new set of tires for a new vehicle, make sure you account for the cost of the rims, too. Sometimes you can find these packaged together for a good deal – like right here at Euroworks, where they are included in our quoted price. We even have unique custom rims for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Mini, Porsche, and Volvo clients.
Storage for Winter Tires
There are dedicated tire storage shops that will hold on to your wheels and rims throughout the year for a fee. They even deliver and pick up, so you don’t have to worry about carting dirty rims and rubber around in your trunk – they’re taken care of until you’re ready to swap again. This is a useful solution if you have a high-end vehicle without a lot of cargo space.
Of course, from Saddletowne to Somerset, many people in the city choose to store their tires in their garages. This works, too, but the important thing is that your spare tires are kept clean, out of the sun, and away from large temperature swings. Any of these can cause premature wear or aging of the rubber components. If you would like us to store your tires here at Euroworks, we would be happy to.
If you’ve got questions about winter tires for European vehicles, contact us today or visit our shop near Sunridge Mall, just off 16 Ave and Barlow Trail NE. We’ve got deals going on right now for winter tire purchases and installation, up to 50% cheaper than dealerships – because we are your dealer alternative!