What you need to know about winter tires
It hasn’t been easy getting around after the big snowfall overnight. Conditions on the roads made for some longer commutes and some white knuckle driving Monday. If you’ve got winter tires you probably felt a bit safer, but did you make the right choice?
B.C. law requires you to have winter tires on many of the province’s roads. All season tires with the M + S symbol or tires with the 3 peak snowflake are acceptable. However, just because all season tires are allowed, they may not be your best choice.
Bill Gardiner of Kal Tire said it's a "big mistake a lot of Canadian motorists make."
In 2016, CTV New participated in a driving test that proved even somewhat worn winter snow tires worked better at stopping in snowing conditions than brand new all season tires. That’s because tires with the 3 peak snow flake are designed to grip better in lower temperatures.
“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,” said tire customer Niall Zybutz.
A new survey by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada indicates that B.C. residents are getting the message. 68 per cent now use winter tires, and 80 per cent of winter tire owners believe it’s save them from a collision. Of those who don't use them, 18 per cent say cost is the reason.
Some rental car companies that have winter tires will charge an extra $20 to $25 per day for them.
But if you’re not heading to the mountains or the temperatures are not extremely cold, you may save some money by compromising. An all-weather tire might be a better option than an all season tire for those driving in the Lower Mainland.
“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,” said Gardiner.
And keep an eye on the tread. It should be a minimum of 3.5 mm of tread depth. The toonie test is a quick way to measure. New tread should come up to the bear’s claw. And the tread on a worn tire should at least cover part of the word "dollars."