Are all-season tires good enough for winter driving?
When CTV News caught up to Niall Zybutz from Edmonton, he was waiting in the Kal Tire lounge. His cube truck was in the bay getting outfitted with winter tires because he was about to cross the Coquihalla Highway.
“You need those winter tires. The difference is huge,” he said. “I was brought up in one of those families, you know, all-season’s good enough and the first time I drove with winter tires it was a remarkable difference.”
And driving tests have proven it. In past years, CTV News has participated in controlled driving tests that demonstrated how winter tires have superior braking, manoeuvring and acceleration capabilities in colder weather compared to all-season tires.
“This tire has tremendous grip at low temperature,” said Kal Tire spokesman Bill Gardiner.
While all-season tires are generally good in three seasons, they start to lose their grip when temperature falls below 7 C, whether on wet pavement or in snow.
While the winter tire is the preferred choice in cold weather, there is another popular option that works well in the Lower Mainland. It’s the all-weather tire.
“You move to an all-weather tire or winter, you’re hooked up. All of a sudden it’s got grip right from the word go,” Gardiner said.
However, in extreme winter conditions – very low temperatures and snow – the winter tires outperform the all-weather tire.
All season tires have the M + S symbol, meaning mud and snow, and in B.C. they are considered the minimum acceptable winter tire. However, you could be turned away on some roads where only tires bearing the three peak snow flake symbol and the M + S are allowed.
Both the winter tire and the all-weather tire have the three peak snow flake and M + S symbol.
According to Kal Tire, the price difference between all season comparable tires and winter tires and all-weather tires is minimal over the long term. The cost comes in changing out your tires and balancing.
And it’s recommended when you store your tires you place them in a tire bag, tied and taped to prolong their life because tires breakdown over time when exposed to air. The average life of a tire is about six years.
If you’re not convinced about winter tires ask Zybutz about the difference in braking on cold surfaces.
“The difference is about 20 metres, I’d say.”