Everyone on a road has to be aware of that his/her safety is greatly relies on what type of tires the truck or the car is running on. Moreover, the most suitable tires for Canadian winter conditions are winter tires. This is professionals’ strong opinion. The following interview is with co-owners of The Tire Domain Inc., the tire company in Concord, Ontario that invites everyone with tire needs. They are Leonid and Konstantin Leonov.
DorogaRoad: Tell us, please, how and when your business did commence.
Leonid Leonov: I have been in the transportation business for about fourteen years now. Started back as a truck driver and gradually progressed from being a truck driver into a business owner. Furthermore, the business expanded, became bigger and stronger. Later, about three years ago, me and my son Konstantin launched a mobile tire business for truckers.
DorogaRoad: Tires are essential for truckers. There is no day in an average trucking company without a call for a Tireman… I guess, you recognized this field as a promising business opportunity.
Leonid Leonov: First, we were a bit tired of “plain” trucking business. Tired in a physical meaning. Therefore, we decided to look for an opportunity, which would still be associated with this business, but not quite. Thus, we found one - tires. This is how Cheetah TT&T was created. We changed later name of the company to The Tire Domain.
DorogaRoad: As far as I am aware of, you moved recently into a new facility and now offer services not only for trucks and trailers but also for passenger vehicles.
Leonid Leonov: Yes, we expanded into a wider direction. We have all the licences and permits for this business as we decided to go further and look into passenger vehicles segment as well. We purchased all necessary equipment and started to work with passenger vehicles.
DorogaRoad: Considering that right now we are going through a winter period. People look into replacing all season and summer tires with the winter ones. Can you explain how important it is for any driver and what exactly you, as a business, can offer?
Leonid Leonov: Primarily, winter tires mean safety. For instance, when a truck driver leaves for a trip, he may be able to drive on old tires (as long as they are fit DOT and MOT standards), but as he leaves for a week or so, he puts his family in danger if the family car does not have appropriate tires. On the contrary, if tires have been changed for the winter ones, then the driver will not need to worry for the entire trip that something wrong may happen to his precious family back home. Even more, such confidence guarantees his own safety as well, as he will not be distracted by negative thoughts.
Consider ABS, traction control - they surely were created for some reason. If you have winter tires, then you have an additional safety feature.
DorogaRoad: I think that even if the vehicle is not equipped with ABS and traction control, but has winter tires on, then the driver is, to some extent, safer already.
Leonid Leonov: Yes, that is for sure.
DorogaRoad: We know that Quebec passed a new law, which requires people to use winter tires on their vehicles in winter months. In your opinion, do we here, in Ontario, are in need of a similar law?
Leonid Leonov: Yes, we do. In fact, Quebec gave us an excellent example by creating this law. Insurance will not cover the vehicle there unless it has winter tires in place. If an accident takes place, and the vehicle has no winter tires, then in addition to all the damages, a fine ticket will be issued as well. If a police officer just simply stops a vehicle for routine inspection and notices that it has no winter tires, then he/she most likely is going to issue a ticket, charging the motorist about $300.
Since we are so close to Quebec geographically, and weather conditions are quite similar here, then I think that by around 2010 a similar law will be passed on in Ontario.
DorogaRoad: Konstantin is joining our conversation. Konstantin, I just learned that you have been involved in an accident recently. Can you share this story with us?
Konstantin Leonov: Sure. A few days ago, I was driving home from a date. I did stop on the red light and was merely talking with my passenger. All of a sudden, a car crashed into my vehicle from behind because he failed to stop in time. As I figured out in minutes, that car obviously was not equipped with winter tires.
DorogaRoad: It seems to me that you are OK after that accident. How is your passenger? And how badly was damaged your car?
Konstantin Leonov: The passenger was OK but the car had to be written off. I bet this story would have a happier conclusion if that car had winter tires on. You just talked about new Quebec “tire law”. If we look at the latest statistic data, the number of accidents in Montreal over the recent snowfalls period actually dropped. Contrary, in Ontario, road accidents went up by 20%. This means that winter tires do what they were intended to do – to save peoples lives, health and property.
DorogaRoad: Some people may say that they do not need to change tires, since they have all season tires on. What is the difference between all season and winter tires?
Leonid Leonov: All season tires have some advantages. One of them is that you can keep one set of tires on your car for all four seasons, there is no need to worry about changing the tires, plus this way you seem to save some money. In addition, some all season tires have an M + S (Mud + Snow) sign, that manufacturers stamp on them mostly for marketing purposes. Having this sign does not automatically mean that the tire was made for snowy conditions. Do not be fooled by this. The rubber of all season tires is designed to perform in well above-zero temperature. Once the temperature drops to zero and below, this type of tire turns into a “hockey puck” and simply keeps on sliding down the road as the driver applies the breaks. On the contrary, the rubber of the winter tires is made of different compound, and these tires have some special, winter related components. Winter tires are designed to perform better in low, and especially sub-zero temperatures. Those tires work smoothly, and have much better grip with an icy, snowy road. The winter tire tread has numerous tiny cuts, so that under the weight of the vehicle they open up and grip the road surface, be it ice, snow, or something in between. So, those tires work the best in Canadian winter conditions.
Konstantin Leonov: All season tires are not designed to be optimal in one specific weather condition. They are meant to be adequate in all weather. To be able to handle different types of weather, compromises have to be made. The tread design of an all season tire is not as aggressive as that of a winter tire and, as Leonid already mentioned, not as flexible in the cold. An all season tire's tread will quickly get packed with snow and you lose traction. One more time, although all season tires are branded M + S, this is only based on the void-to-rubber ratio of the tread design, where the severe snow rating is based on actual performance testing. If you expect you will have to drive in moderate to severe snow, you should purchase a set of winter tires because only winter tires are the ultimate for safe winter driving. Actually, you do not even need snow to need winter tires. It is the temperature. Winter tires are made with a special type of rubber compound that does not stiffen in the cold like all season tires. How cold is cold? When the temperature on the surface of the road is 5°C or lower. So, remember: mud tires, rain tires and anything else are not winter tires, do not mix them up. The type of tire is embossed into the side of the tire. Winter tires have pictures of stylized snowflake inserted in mountain tip.
DorogaRoad: When people decide to change tires, they often change them along with the rims.
Leonid Leonov: Yes, that is usually the case. We have all kinds of rims in stock. In terms of winter rims, we recommend to install steel ones rather than the aluminum. Snow does not pile up as much on steel and they are not frosted over as much as the aluminums. In addition, it is convenient, since people can install them even in their own garage. Furthermore, they cost less.
Konstantin Leonov: Speaking about cost. One can spend $300 - 1500 on a set of winter tires, installed and balanced. It greatly depends on the type of the vehicle, size and the overall quality of the tire. No doubt, winter tires are worth investing, since they last three, four, or even five years. If you split the cost of winter tires by the number of years they will serve you, then you will clearly see that this price is not justifying compromise of your safety. In addition, consider the fact that a single accident can easily suck out the money you have been saving for years. Therefore, if you consider it as an investment then you will see that the cost is relatively small for what you will get in return – your own safety, safety of your family, and people around you. What we do here is just helping people to stay safe.
Leonid Leonov: A bit more about winter tires advantages. For instance, you lost control of your vehicle on an icy, snowy road and get into a ditch. Assuming nobody gets hurt. Still, police these days can ticket you for such an accident charging you with irresponsible driving and your insurance company most likely will not cover towing expenses. You can only blame yourself in this case…
Konstantin Leonov: I just told you that I recently had an accident. Because my car was written of, I was provided with a rented 2008 vehicle. The vehicle was new and had a high quality, expensive Continental all season tires. Believe it or not, I did replace those tires with the winter ones on the second day. When driving on the all-season ones I could not get rid of the feeling that I was about to get into another accident. I just felt unsafe and uncomfortable. I could not drive faster than 40 km/hr. That vehicle could easily get into sliding and spinning when I just simply tried to change lanes. This is pretty serious.
DorogaRoad: We are part of Russian community here, in Ontario. I was wondering, do you have many Russian-speaking clients? Do Russians support other Russians' businesses here in Toronto?
Leonid Leonov: In fact, they do. When people found out about our new shop and that we commenced service to passenger vehicles, many Russians came to us for tire service. We always try to return the favour providing the best service and supply of good quality products at a very, very competitive price. First, our family friends came over to us to switch to winter tires as soon as we opened this shop. Moreover, some of them never even had winter tires before. Amongst my friends, I have a woman who is not the best driver around, especially in a winter. She would cancel all her appointments, even important ones, and stay at home whenever there is a snowfall. She did call recently and say that having winter tires made all the difference; she can finally drive in any weather conditions, even in snowstorms.
We have learned the people’s trust, since we do a good job, working honestly and keep prices affordable and attractive.
Due to years in business, we are perhaps the only Russian tire shop, who has access to all tire brands. We have the most popular and trusted tire brands. Amongst other brands, we have Nokian and Gislaved tires. Just to mention, Volvo has exclusive rights on Gislaved, while Cal Tire on Nokian.
We also have all the equipment to work with passenger vehicles on a professional level. We can balance passenger vehicle tires of different sizes as well as we can do to the truck tires. We even do low profile tires, since we have appropriate equipment for that. Not every shop can professionally serve the latest models of BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus etc. In addition, we are TMPS friendly. TMPS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Starting September 2006, every vehicle manufactured in North America has to be equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This means that every tire has a sensor, which transmits information to a vehicle computer that in turns signals driver when tire pressure is too low.
Konstantin Leonov: We went through special training in order to learn how to work with those new systems. I would like to address to high-end car owners: come to us with confidence. We have a good practice on working with Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, Infinity, etc. and number of satisfied customers. Frankly, we find it even easier to work on such high class vehicles since they have such a “smart” systems, that we simply have to follow our professional routing and reset the sensors. It is a breeze to work on those vehicles.
We also offer an additional service like remote starters and alarms installation. Remote starter is a pure convenience. You do not have to start your winter morning commute in a cold car when temperature inside your vehicle is the same like outdoors. All you have to do is just to press a button from the coziness of your home and car would be warm in a matter of minutes. This also adds to the engine longevity.
DorogaRoad: In conclusion, is there anything else that you would like to add?
Leonid Leonov: I would like to address truckers: While we expanded to passenger vehicles, our truck and trailer tire selection actually expanded as well. I am talking about new tires as well as recaps. In terms of prices, we also stay at the same, competitive level with other shops. We take personal approach to every client and accept various forms of payment. We are getting an additional Mobile Service Truck, so we become even more accessible to our clients. We also service fleets, and fleets are getting special packaged prices. So, company owners, owner operators, you can confidently turn to us for your tire needs.
I would like also to address every motorist who is driving a car and who is still in doubts about winter tires. Please visit us at any given day, especially when it is snowing, and try the road with one of our own cars, equipped with winter tires. Then compare and make your informative decision. I am sure, you will feel the difference. It is not a marketing trap, I welcome everyone.
DorogaRoad: That is a good idea. Here is the address and telephones of The Tire Domain Inc.: 191, Creditstone Road, Concord, Ontario, L4K 1N7; 416 884 8045, 905 532 9277. Thank you for the interview. You can find more details and tire range by clicking on GREAT TIRE DEALS banner on a home page of this site.