Every year when winter comes, it’s the same thing all over again. Millions of Canadians rush to prepare their vehicle for the snow, the ice, the slush and the cold weather. Some consider winter tires to be essential to their survival. And although it has been proved that the use of tires especially designed for winter reduces the number of collision injuries, others think they’re a waste of money. According to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), only 60% of Canadians use winter tires. Here are a few reasons that we hope will convince the remaining 40% to ditch their all-season tires for winter ones.
1. Softer Rubber Compound
At first glance, one might think that the main difference between winter and all-weather tires is the tread. In truth, it’s the rubber compound that does the most of the job. Designed to remain soft under 7 °C, it’s able to stay elastic and stick to the road, providing superior grip. On the contrary, the rubber compound with which all-season tires are made stiffens when it gets cold, causing them to slip on snow and ice-covered pavement.
2. Shorter Stopping Distances
In emergency situations, being able to quickly stop your vehicle is crucial. With their advanced technology, today’s winter tires ensure shorter stopping distances. Experts say that below 0 °C, a vehicle equipped with all-season tires stops on a 30% longer distance.
3. Resistance to Hydroplaning
Unlike all-season tires, winter tires are engineered to evacuate water. When pressing on ice or snow, they melt the surface layer which transforms into a film of water. Equipped with hundreds of sipes, winter tires offer more stability and channel water to the side, preventing hydroplaning.
4. Crisper Road Handling
All-wheel drive vehicles are great, but they are not winter-proof. They might be better at accelerating, but they’re not better at stopping. When it comes to braking, cornering and handling, you’ll be significantly safer and more confident with winter tires, no matter the number of driven wheels.
5. Adapted Tread
Winter tires come with deeper and more aggressive treads, especially made to cut into snow and slush. On the contrary, all-season tires are not designed to clear the snow and are considerably less effective in winter conditions.
A lot of Canadian drivers who stick with all-season tires throughout the year say that winter tires are too expensive. But are they really? If you switch between two sets of tires, you extend the service life of each. However, if you drive on all-season tires year-long, you will end up replacing them more often than if you had a second set. Furthermore, in some provinces like Ontario, insurance companies offer a discount to drivers who equip their vehicle with winter tires.
There are a lot more reasons why we think you should ditch your all-season tires to upgrade to winter tires. Not only do they prove to be much more efficient in cold weather, but they also save lives.