Here is our annual guide to summer tires and all-season tires for cars for 2021 in Canada.
The winter has certainly seemed long and hard, so good riddance. The confinement imposed by the pandemic has made it feel like the cold weather might never end. However, the signs for the months ahead are promising and if the trend continues, there’s a good chance folks will be able to travel by car, event if that will likely be within Canada or even their home province.
It’s wise, before you head out on the road, to examine your tires or have them examined thoroughly and change them if you have any doubts about their condition. Despite the fact that tire manufacturers are offering increasingly safe and high-quality products, the condition of your tires may have deteriorated (without you even noticing), if only because of the weather.
And, if you don't know how to read the date of manufacture of a tire, ask an expert. Keep in mind that if the tire is more than seven years old (the maximum age indicated by the tire industry for its integrity), it might be wiser to change it (and the other tires on the vehicle if they are of the same age), especially if you’re considering long trips with much higher-speed driving.
The same is true if you’re examining or having examined tires that look questionable (read, uneven), which could also involve a review of your vehicle’s steering and its repair if necessary. Today, fewer and fewer motorists do much active maintenance or pay that much heed to having their vehicle maintained, for the happy reason they’re better-built than ever. However, tires are still an easily visible and examinable accessory the wear and tear of which can indicate a lack of maintenance. Again, despite the new instrumentation that alerts drivers, too many vehicles are running with tires that need air pressure adjustments.
Finally, and we can't say this often enough, don't forget that your life and that of your passengers rests on four points of contact with the ground that are no bigger than the palm of your hand! Remember that when you're driving at 120 km/h.
A Pirelli study in Canada shows that the market trend continues to be towards ever larger rims, mostly of 18 inches or more. We were also told by the good folks at Pneus Premier Choix in Laval, Quebec drivers are increasingly opting for V-tyres instead of Z-tyres, which have a more rounded shoulder to better resist pothole impacts and provide better handling.
Motorists have generally, on average, driven fewer kilometres in the past year due to the pandemic, limiting the wear and tear on their vehicle's tires. As a result, many planning last spring to change their tires might have delayed their purchase (which by the way caused new tire sales in recent months to fall right along with vehicle sales have fallen in Canada, especially in the early part of 2020).
This should explain why tire manufacturers have generally slowed down their new tire releases. It must also be said that most of them were already offering high quality products with more advanced features.
Meanwhile, there is a new phenomenon that is gaining momentum: the so-called “approved”, “certified” tire. All-weather tires, to many. This is a kind of all-season tire that is capable, up to a certain point, of providing good traction and sufficient safety in winter. This type of tire can be recognized by its tread design, which resembles that of an all-season tire, with the pictogram of a mountain silhouette with a snowflake in the centre of the sidewalls.
Many motorists, especially those who don’t use their cars that frequently, are attracted to this type of tire that does not need to be switched out for winter tires during the cold season. Not necessarily recommended by experts, this type of tire would not be the most efficient in deep snow or for maximum traction on ice. But, for those motorists with light to moderate driving needs, we are including them for consideration with our recommendations for the year.
In the past the Finnish brand Nokian, so highly recommended for its efficient and durable winter tires, was missing from our previous summer-tire recommendations, mainly because it may not always meet the needs of North American drivers. This time, however, it’s in the game with its brand-new all-season tire, the Nokian One.
Now that Nokian has a secure foothold in North America, especially with its new factory in Dayton, Tennessee, it can offer us a tire specifically adapted for North American roads and the needs of their users.
The Nokian One is a logical follow-up to the Nokian One HT for light trucks launched last year. It is an all-season product with a symmetrical but non-directional tread pattern that should be a great improvement over Nokian's "old" wet braking and steering products.
At the same time, the use of silica and carbon black in a new tread compound should reduce rolling resistance for better fuel economy.
Finally, available in over 70 sizes for cars, SUVs and even some light trucks, the Nokian One comes with a 130,000 km wear guarantee.
Nokian, a pioneer in the all-weather tire category, can offer you the WRG4 with a rubber compound adapted to North American conditions. However, it is important to keep in mind that this tire is a "compromise" product, and so it may not always be suitable for sporty driving!