Most of us know, or suspect, that we should use winter tires in this climate during the winter months. Our area certainly meets the guidelines of having heavy or consistent snow or persistent winter conditions. We absolutely see an increase in the number of cars that end up spinning into ditches or other vehicles during the winter months. Too often the consequences are tragic.
But why do we need winter tires as opposed to all-season tires?
Why has the provincial government deemed it so important that insurance companies now offer a discount to drivers who install winter tires? Do they make that much of a difference to our safety?
Yes, winter tires do increase safety.
The rubber that all-season and summer tires are made of gets very hard in low temperatures. As a result, they lose traction. As Peter Cheney explains in The Globe and Mail:
“All-season tires are a bad compromise. On snow, ice or cold pavement, the stopping distance of a car with winter tires can be up to 30 to 40 per cent shorter than one with all-seasons. Since the force of a crash increases as the square of impact speed, this could be the difference between life and death.”
Whether there is snow on the road or whether the road is clear and dry, because of the temperatures, winter tires are the safer bet. They’re made of different rubber compounds that remain soft and malleable in a cold environment. They grip the pavement better; it’s as simple – and safe – as that. (This fact is leading to a movement to call them “cold-weather” tires instead of “winter” tires.)
When should winter tires be put on?
The conventional wisdom is these winter tires should be put on when it’s going to be under 7C. That will be any day now, so it’s probably time to book an appointment.
What to do next…
Make sure you contact your agent or broker when you’ve installed your cold winter tires and ask about your winter tire discount.