As the weather changes from Summer to Winter, it’s a reminder to change over your seasonal tires as well.
In British Columbia, certain roads in mountainous terrain are accessible only to vehicles equipped with winter tires. However, winter driving in Vancouver – as with other cities on the “Wet Coast” – comes with its particular challenges. The combination of the closeness of the ocean, the temperature fluctuations, and the moisture in the air can create dangerous driving conditions.
We highly recommend using winter tires for our Canadian climate and so do the tire manufacturers. This isn’t an evil plot to sell more tires, because by using different tires for summer and winter you are doubling the length of time each set of tires will last. The reasons for changing back and forth are primarily better traction, which makes your vehicle safer to drive. Meaning you are no longer “that person” spinning tires at every light.
Tire companies recommend switching tire types when temperatures are about 10 degrees Celsius. While you can use summer tires below that temperature and winter tires above that temperature, you will gain the most benefit by switching when temperatures average around 10 degrees.
During winter, it’s crucial that you drive slower and that you keep a safe distance between your car and others’. Although there might not be much snow in Vancouver, temperatures in the winter often go below 7*C. And that’s exactly when it is important to have winter tires in Vancouver because your tires’ performance is directly influenced by the temperature.
Below 7*C, all-season and summer tires become stiffer because they are not adapted to such temperatures. That stiffness causes the tires to lose all traction power and reduces their braking performance, which can be life-threatening. And what about all-weather tires? Well, even if they have the mountain-and-snowflake icon, they do not offer the same performance as winter tires.
Winter tires, on the other hand, have softer rubber and a tread pattern that is specifically designed to perform optimally in cold temperatures. They offer optimal traction and reduced braking distance. They are much safer than all-weather tires when it comes to driving in snow and even on ice.
Statistics say that braking performance is up to 62% better for vehicles with winter tires as compared to those with all-season tires. One may think that all-season tires are the best of both worlds. They may be in theory, but in reality, they aren’t. Even though they are marketed as being optimized for both cold and warm temperatures, they do not perform well in either summer or winter. They just barely pass the test.
Snow and ice, for example, are more slippery at 0*C than -20*C.
The best and safest solution is to use two sets of tires: summer tires and winter tires. There are two main reasons why some people don’t have two sets of tires: money and storage. However, these reasons are superficial. The amount you spend on winter tires, you save with the reduced wear on your summer tires.
The initial purchase price of the wheels is quickly offset by the cost of swapping tires on one set of wheels and rebalancing them. It is also way quicker and more convenient to swap tires when they are already mounted on wheels.
Whether you swap tires yourself or have a shop do this for you, it is a great time to do a general safety inspection of the vehicle. With wheels removed, it is easy to see brake lining thickness, oil leaks from struts and shocks, and low-hanging exhaust systems. Of course, it is also a very good time to take a look at the wheels and tires you are using to see if there is any damage or they are worn to the point of needing replacement.
While you are swapping tires, take a look at the amount of tread remaining on the tire. Most tires will come new with about 11/32 to 12/32 of an inch tread depth. For traction in snow, a tire with 6/32 or more of tread depth works better. When a tire reaches 4/32 of an inch tread depth, it doesn’t have enough tread left to channel water away from the face of the tire on wet roads, so hydroplaning can occur. By keeping an eye on tread depths you can plan ahead to budget for new tires, so you aren’t left with a much larger bill than you expected.
Planning ahead can save you money on new tires and this is a good time to go shopping.
At National Tire Wholesale, we have a tire for facing unique driving conditions
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