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How to choose tires

If you haven't purchased new tires before, the task can seem daunting. With so many things to consider, it’s hard to know where to begin. This guide will outline all of the essentials, from understanding the most basic differences between all season, performance and winter tires, to reading your tire sidewall information to ensure that you purchase the right size and type of tires for your vehicle.


In what season will you be driving?

Before you start looking at the options that are available, it’s important to consider when you will be driving during the year. 

If you plan on using the tires when there is snow on the ground and extreme weather conditions to contend with, you need winter tires. If you are looking for tires to last you through summer, spring and fall, you should choose all season tires. If you want tires for speed and traction, performance tires are ideal for your needs.


All Season Tires

As the name suggests, all season tires are designed to provide safe driving over a wide range of conditions. The advantage to all season tires is that they can remain on your vehicle spring, summer and fall, but they may not be suitable in cold temperatures or snowy weather. They also typically provide a quieter ride than winter tires. 
See All Season Tires

Performance Tires

Performance tires have a higher speed rating than other tires. They are designed for handling and control at high speeds, which can result in a stiffer tire. This may affect the comfort of your ride. The tread is also wider to provide more contact with the road and better dry traction. The special compound that’s used enhances performance but may not provide the same tread wear as all season tires.
See Performance Tires

Winter Tires

These tires use special compounds to improve your traction, stopping and handling whenever the thermometer dips below 7°C/45°F. A winter tire is marked with the mountain/snowflake symbol. Although all weather tires are good in many conditions, they don't provide the same grip and control that winter tires can in cold or snowy weather. 
See Winter Tires

Tire Size


P = Service Type: Indicates this is a passenger vehicle tire, as opposed to a tire made for a light truck (LT) or other vehicle. 

185 = Section Width: The width of the tire in millimetres from sidewall to sidewall. This measurement varies depending on the width of the rim to which the tire is fitted: larger on a wide rim, smaller on a narrow rim. The number on the side of the tire indicates the width measured with the tire fitted to the recommended rim width. 

75 = Aspect Ratio: The ratio of height to width. This tire's height is 75% of its width. 

R = Internal Construction: How the plies are constructed in the tire carcass. "R" means radial, "B" means the tire is belted bias construction and "D" means diagonal bias construction. 

14 = Rim Diameter: The diameter of the wheel in inches. 

82 = Load Index: This tire has an industry-standard maximum load of 475 kg (1,047 lbs) Different load index numbers correspond to different maximum loads. The maximum load is shown in lbs. (pounds) and in kg (kilograms), and maximum pressure in PSI (pounds per square inch) and in kPa (kilopascals). 

S = Speed Rating: This tire has an industry-standard maximum service speed of 130 mph. Different letters correspond to different maximum service speeds.

Tire Sidewall

Tire Sidewall Identifications

On the sidewall of every tire, there's a great deal of information that identifies its construction and capabilities. When purchasing a tire, you should always try and match the OE size (Original Equipment = the manufacture of the Vehicle) as indicated in the owner’s manual or placard on the vehicle. At minimum, you should always meet or exceed the OE service rating in the speed rating and load index. 


Tire Tread

The flat area of the tire that contacts the road surface. A tire’s tread construction determines the adhesion characteristics of the tire in all driving conditions. 

Tire Sidewall

The vertical portion of the tire that extends from the road surface to the bead. Sidewall construction and depth affects the ride and handling of the tire. 


Uniform Tire Quality Grade standards were developed to equip consumers with information to compare tires based on relative treadwear, traction and temperature capabilities. This grading is mostly used for all season tires for passenger vehicles. 

Tread Wear Indicators

These are narrow bands in the tread grooves that provide a visual warning that your tires need to be replaced. They become visible when the tread depth is below the legal limit of 1.6mm. 

Max. Inflation Pressure

This is the highest inflation pressure that the tire can withstand. It is not the recommended inflation pressure. The inflation pressure should never be below the recommended pressure of your tire. 

Load Limit / Index

The load index indicates the tire's relative load carrying capabilities. The numbers correspond to a set index, with higher numbers indicating the ability to carry a heavier load.

Tire Ply Composition

This indicates the relative strength of tires by identifying the actual number of plies used in the tire's construction.

Construction Materials

Branding on a tire’s sidewall will list the materials and number of layers of each material used to reinforce the rubber. 

Mountain / Snowflake Symbol

It indicates a Severe Snow Conditions rating. These tires are designed for cold weather and severe snow conditions, and have been performance tested to meet or exceed industry established snow traction performance requirements. 


The M+S (also displayed as M&S or M-S) indicates the tire has all season capabilities. Tires bearing this mark offer great traction and can be used in rain, snow, and muddy conditions. However it does not mean the tire has passed any road tests ensuring effectiveness in severe winter conditions. 

Winter Studs

Winter studs offer additional traction in extreme cold and snowy conditions. Note that there are different provincial rules and regulations for the use of studded tires.



Tire Size

Tire Sidewall