Most drivers know when the mercury regularly dips below 7 degrees Celsius, it is time for your car to wear its winter tires. The rubber compounds from which a winter tire are made contain elements which allow them to remain pliable in cold temperatures. Stiff rubber simply doesn’t offer as much grip; put on a pair of flip flops during the next ice storm to discover what we’re talking about.
Still, winter tires aren’t a lot of help if they’re too smooth. Making sure your tires have the proper and safe level of tread depth is easy.
How to check your treads.Reach into your pocket and grab the toonie that’s left over from the change you received at Tim Horton’s this morning. With the coin positioned upright, place it between the tire’s tread block. If the tread only reaches so far as the ‘Canada’ or ‘Dollars’ letters, your tires are extremely worn and should be replaced.
Tires also have built in indicators called wear bars. They are small ribs of non-structural rubber that span the gap between those meaty tread blocks. They’re hard to see when there is a lot of tread but become prominently visible when the tire becomes worn to the point of needing replacement. Some brands, Nokian in particular, mold the numbers 80/60/40 into the rubber. They represent the rough amount of remaining life and slowly become visible as the tread wears away. Many winter tires start life with about 12/32” of tread depth and most experts advocate for their replacement when that number is down to roughly 6/32”. This is much different from all season tires whose legal replacement limit is 2/32”.