Winter is coming to British Columbia, which also means: it’s time for winter tires!
There are some myths about winter tires that we'll debunk in this blog. If you use any of these for excuses, it’s time to think again.
1. There is not much snow in Metro Vancouver.
“Each year, there’s hardly any snow anymore.” Well, winter tires are not just snow tires, and they do more than just give you traction on the snow. They’re engineered for wetter weather - pretty much our Vancouver winter - with tread that’s designed to channel water and slush out from under them, which helps avoid hydroplaning — a dangerous situation where your tire’s tread fills with water and “floats” on top of the puddles, and you lose control.
Rubber naturally hardens in cold weather, which reduces its grip. Winter tires are made of a specific rubber compound that keeps them supple at lower temperatures. Tire grip is important not just for acceleration, but also for lane changes and braking. The general rule is that when the temperature drops below 7°C, winter tires grip better than all-season tires.
2. I have all-season tires, and winter is a season isn't it?
“All-season” tires are a compromise. Summer tires get too hard in the cold, while winter tires become too soft in the heat. The compound in all-season tires ranges between those two, which means they can’t provide that superior grip that winter tires give you at colder temperatures.
Some tire companies offer “all-weather” tires. These have the mountain-and-snowflake logo that indicates a winter tire, and they have a more aggressive tread than all-season, but are intended for year-round use. They’ll get you through, but you’ll probably find dedicated winter tires still do a better job.
3. You only need two winter tires on the wheels that need traction.
Nothing could be further from the truth! If one set of tires has more grip, that means the other has less when you’re turning or braking — and that can cause it to skid or slide. You need the same type of tire at every corner of your car. Don't take any risks! avoid an accident and change your four summer tires to winter tires.
4. All-wheel drive tires can be used in winter.
All-wheel drive can send power to all four wheels, not just two of them — but that doesn’t mean anything if the tires on those wheels aren’t gripping the pavement. And all-wheel drive won’t stop you any faster than two-wheel drive. You need the grippiest tires possible for the best braking possible.
5. My car has all the high-tech safety features.
Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control help to prevent collisions by helping to keep your vehicle from sliding. But we’re back to the essential role of the tires: No matter what your safety features are doing, they still require your tires to grip the asphalt. Quite simply, your safety features will work better — and keep you safer — if you have winter tires on your wheels.
6. Winter tires are just too expensive.
You will be buying an extra set, of course, but as with other types of tires, the winter variety comes in a range of prices. Remember that some areas of British Columbia, the law requires drivers to use them. We can help you find the right tire for your driving needs.
7. If I drive slower in bad weather it'll be ok.
It’s always a good plan to slow down when the roads are bad, it is definitely safer to do so, but it’s not a substitute for using winter tires, especially because you’re not just the only driver out there. If you need to brake or steer to avoid a collision, winter tires make the difference.
Remember, winter tires are the single most important safety feature on your vehicle, because they’re the only thing in contact with the road. Everything else, from seatbelts to airbags to stability control, are there to help get you out of trouble when your tires lose their grip.
8. There is no need to air up any more often in winter.
You need to check the pressure in your winter tires more frequently because the outside temperature can have a dramatic affect on the pressure of your winter tires. Every time the thermometer drops 5 C, your tires lose about 1 PSI of air pressure.
by: JIL MCINTOSH
At National Tire Wholesale, you're in the driver's seat. Our technicians only recommend maintenance and repairs to keep you and your car safe. Make an appointment and we'll help you get your car ready for winter.
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