Ontario drivers with winter tires on their vehicles have been promised an insurance discount starting in January, according to Finance Minister Charles Sousa.

Effective January 1, 2016, the government will require all private insurers to offer discounts to people who buy and install winter tires, the Ministry of Finance said in a release.

So what do you need to know about winter tires before investing in a set for your vehicle? 

1. They're more flexible in colder temperatures

"The rubber compound is different, it's softer," said Don Mogk, service manager of Downtown Auto Centre in Kitchener. "Anything below 7 C on all-season tires, the rubber gets hard and inflexible. So that's why they slide on ice or in snow, where a true winter tire remains flexible below 7 C."

2. They have bigger tread

"They have a more aggressive tread than an actual all season," Moogk said. 

The thicker tread leads to more grip, allowing drivers to have more control in winter conditions. 

3. They are not the same as all seasons tires

"I kinda poo-pooed snow tires for years," Moogk said. "The first year I actually put snow tires on it was like night and day." 

"They grip better, traction is much better, stopping distance is shorter," he added. 

4. They should be put on by end of October, early November

"We try to tell people to start scheduling before the crazy rush comes in, but we still get people who don't put them on until that first snow fall and then they go into panic mode," said Moogk.

"Put your snow tires on, you'll see a world of difference." 

5. They should not be left on in spring, summer

Moogk said drivers should get their winter tires removed as soon as the snow is gone from the road in order to preserve the tires. 

"The disadvantage with the winter tires on in the summertime or spring is the soft rubber compound gets eaten up on hot pavement."