Winter Tires – a Smart Financial Decision
If you’ve ever hit the brakes on your car, only to feel it slip – due to rain, snow, or ice – you know it’s a little scary. You jump into defence mode – sitting upright, gripping the wheel, hands at 10 & 2, staring intently at the road ahead.
Fortunately, you didn’t crash. Others may not be so lucky. Any at-fault accident will result in a rise in car insurance premiums. Ideally car insurance providers hope to never have to pay out a claim. They aim to reduce their risk by incentivizing drivers to be safe – one of those ways is with winter tires.
The effect of winter tires on your insurance
There are many ways to get cheap car insurance starting with buying the right car, professional group discounts like unions, and bundling with your home insurance. Insurance providers will also reward those who stay loyal to them and drivers who keep a clean driving record.
While not all companies offer the same discounts, rewards, or incentives, you can always find a provider who will offer 3-5% savings for installing winter tires when the snowfalls. In fact, in January of 2016, it became a requirement by law that all Ontario car insurance providers must offer a discount for snow tires. By contrast, in Quebec they took it a step further, mandating that you must have winter tires or risk losing your insurance entirely.
How to earn the discount
● Have winter tires installed and be prepared to offer proof of purchase and installation
● All four tires must be winter tires with an approved winter symbol
● All-season tires do not count as winter tires
● Winter tires must be on the car between December 1st and March 31st (Ontario only)
More on road safety and tire selection tips
Of course, road safety doesn’t stop with winter tires. Improperly inflated tires can increase the wear on your tires, which can lead to tire failure, thus increasing your chances of getting into an accident. If you have correctly inflated tires, you will improve both the driving performance of your vehicle and its gas mileage.
It’s worth it to have a tire gauge handy in the glove compartment, or stored with your donut tire, to check and maintain the pressure regularly.
Rotate your tires
While it might sound like a way for a mechanic to make extra money, rotating your tires is critical to extending their life. Your user manual will have more specific details about when to rotate. But, if you’re still unsure, know that Transport Canada recommends that you rotate your tires every 10,000 km. If you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, know that it wears the front tires down faster than the back.
The cost of winter tires
Using the Canadawheels tire finder, you can find winter tires that fit within your budget and for your vehicle with a few simple clicks. Let’s say you own a Honda HRV, the cheapest tires listed are about $93, and the most expensive are $185. There is usually a fee of around $30 per tire to have them installed, but some places will install them for free with purchase. With this in mind, the cheapest tires with installation will cost about $500, whereas the most expensive will be about $900.
When shopping for car insurance quotes, on average, you can expect to pay about $1,200 per year. Now, assuming we can save 5% on our insurance – is it worth it to buy winter tires? Let’s use our 5% insurance savings of $1200, and we get $60 every year. That means the return on investment for buying winter tires is between 8-15 years. That’s a long time to recoup your investment, but it’s also the amount of time you’re likely to own your vehicle, according to consumerreports.org.
The bottom line
Winter tires are a smart investment. It’s not only because of the potential discounts you’ll receive, but more so because you reduce the risk of slipping on the roads, increase your traction, and lower your chances of getting into a car accident and watching your premiums skyrocket.