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Are all-weather tires good for our driving conditions? I have a set of all-season tires and a set of winter tires; I drive a more than 30,000 kilometres a year. I would like to know if is okay to install only those all-weather tires that Canadian Tire is selling or stick to what is proven. – Jose

Stick with what you've got. Like all-season tires, these new all-weather tires are a compromise.

They display the "mountain/snowflake" symbol signifying they pass the standards required by Transport Canada for winter tires. Tests show they perform reasonably well in mild winter conditions, but not as well as true winter tires. Similarly, they are okay for the other three seasons, but not up to the standards of quality all-season tires, let alone pure summer tires.

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Numerous tire tests by a wide variety of public and private groups have conclusively proven the efficacy of winter tires.

Quebec, where winter tires are mandatory, has published data showing reduced rates of crashes and deaths since the requirement was put in place. The Quebec Ministry of Transportation says winter tires shorten braking distances up to 25 per cent over all-seasons and "improve collision avoidance" by 38 per cent.

Transport Canada tests show all-season tires take twice as long to stop. Tests conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation showed a subcompact car needs 11.6 metres less distance to stop with winter tires compared to all-season rubber. It says a minivan travelling at the same 50 km/h on the same five cm of compacted snow at – 20C required 12.8 metres more distance to stop on all-season tires compared to winters.

Tire Rack, a highly-respected American company, says that tests it conducted on both snow and ice showed dedicated winter tires were able to stop in a shorter distance and turn in a tighter radius than all-season options.

Several major tire companies are selling all-weather tires, including Goodyear, Hankook. Nokian, Vredestein and Yokohama. But these same companies produce true winter tires that perform better at low temperatures and in winter conditions.

When the temperature drops to or below the freezing point, regardless of road conditions, dedicated winter tires are your best bet. Add freezing rain, snow, ice, slush or other winter conditions and their advantages become even more obvious. Tires are not an area to be satisfied with compromise.

Send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

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