Snowy or icy road surfaces are a reality six months of the year across the country, and winter tires provide better traction, handling and braking distance. And thanks to next-generation design, the ride is quiet and smooth. No surprise, then, that thousands of Canadians rush out to equip their vehicles with winter tires with the first snowfall.
Fast facts about winter tires
- Winter tires should only be installed in sets of four. With just two winter tires, your vehicle’s handling is not fully optimized.
- Winter tires contain silica, a compound that keeps tires flexible in cold temperatures. They also have a tread design that helps maintain a firm grip on snow and ice-packed roads, which helps improve handling, stability, control and cornering capabilities. All-season tires, on the other hand, can become hard and lose their elasticity in wintry weather, reducing traction and compromising your safety.
- Winter tires help reduce braking distance on cold, wet, ice and snow-covered roads. Depending on your speed and the weather, the braking distance of winter tires can be up to 25 per cent shorter (or two vehicle lengths) compared to all-season tires.
- Proper air pressure extends the tread life of your winter tires, improving safety and reducing fuel consumption. For every 5°C dip in the thermometer, your tire pressure decreases 1 pound per square inch which results in reduced handling and control of your vehicle. Check your tire pressure once a month when the tires are cold.
CAA has an easy rule of thumb for remembering when to make the switch from all-season tires to winter tires: when the temperature reaches 7°C or below put them on; when the temperature reaches 7°C or above, remove them. Another way to remember? Put them on when Daylight Saving time ends in November.
Should all provinces follow Quebec’s lead on winter tires?
In 2008, the government of Quebec became the only province in Canada to enact a law mandating that all passenger vehicles must be equipped with full set of four winter tires between December 15 and March 15. What prompted the change? Quebec had gathered and analyzed accident data and found that the 10% of motorists who weren’t using winter tires prior to the law were involved in 38% of the most severe accidents. Just one year after the new law was enacted in Quebec, the data showed a 5% net decrease in the number of accident victims, which was equal to 597 people who were spared injury or worse. A number of European countries have also instituted mandatory winter tire laws, including Finland, Latvia and Germany – and all have seen a significant drop in the number of fatal accidents.
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The information and advice are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.
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