What Are the Signs You Need New Winter Tires?

A stock photo of a tire's tread pattern in the snow.

How Do You Know if You Need New Winter Tires?

Fifth Avenue Volkswagen has gone on and on about the importance of winter tires. Simply having a quality set of winter tires can be a game-changer for safely handling winter driving. However, there are still a couple of questions people ask when they visit the tire centre at Fifth Avenue VW. First is, ‘How do you know if you need new winter tires?’ And the other is, ‘How long do winter tires last?’ Follow along with us as we take a closer look at these critical questions.

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When Should You Get New Winter Tires?

Winter tires are constructed using a special rubber compound that keeps them soft in the coldest temperatures. The other thing that sets winter tires apart from other types is increased tread depth. As we can see from the chart below, an average winter tire has a 9.5-mm tread depth. A tire that shows a tread depth of 5.6 mm (50 percent) or less needs to be replaced. A tire with a depth of below 1.6 mm shouldn’t be used at all.

Tread Depth (mm) Percentage of Tread Wear
9.5 0% (new)
7.1 25%
5.6 50 % (Replace now)
3.2 75%
1.6 100% (Very Dangerous)

If you’re wondering how you know when the tread depth has degraded too far, you simply need to grab a Toonie out of your pocket and place it in the tread with the bear facing to the right. The closer the rubber is to the bear’s feet, the healthier the tire is. When the rubber doesn’t cover the word ‘Canada,’ it’s time to call Fifth Avenue VW immediately.

How Long Do Winter Tires Last?

Just because you only use winter tires for a few months of the year, it would be a mistake to think that they will last forever. The industry average for the lifespan of a winter tire is about three or four seasons. After that, it will be time to pay close attention to the health of those tires. There are a few factors that can affect how long a tire lasts including:

  • Vehicle type/weight
  • Road surfaces
  • Driving style

One of the worst things you can do to your winter tires is leave them too long or put them on too early. Driving long distances over warm, dry pavement will quickly wear down treads that are designed to cover snow and ice.

If you have any questions about the best winter or season tires for your vehicle or any other maintenance issue, make an appointment with the Fifth Avenue VW Service Department, today.