Category: Articles

Use Caution: Handling Winter Driving Conditions in Alberta

Originally by Mark Richardson via AMA Insider – amainsider.com


There are many ways that winter roads can be hazardous in Alberta. Here are some of them, and what you should do to make sure you’re safely handling winter driving conditions.

FLUFFY BUT DANGEROUS
When road markings are obscured, slow down and leave lots of stopping distance. Always clear snow from your vehicle, including the roof. “You have to be able to see and be seen by others,” Wilson says. “Clean off your lights, mirrors and windows. If you leave a couple centimeters of snow on your hood, it’ll blow onto your windshield and snow on your roof or trunk will blow onto the car behind you.”

FROZEN OUT
Ice is often plentiful at intersections, where vehicles brake and accelerate. It’s also likely to form on bridges because the cool air beneath the span freezes the water on its upper surface. Slow down and leave extra room for stopping.

HIDDEN HAZARD
Black ice is just like ice but not so apparent—it’s “black” because the ice is clear and you can see the asphalt below. Watch for a sheen on the road surface and treat it as you would ice.

SLIPPERY WHEN WET
Freezing rain can make conditions so dicey that it’s sometimes safest to pull off the highway and wait. If you must drive, be sure you have good winter tires and wiper blades, plus plenty of wiper fluid.

STAY BACK
If you find yourself behind a snowplow, be grateful the road is being cleared and be patient. Don’t try to overtake it! “Every winter, there are crashes involving people trying to pass the plow,” Wilson says.

MOVE OVER
If you see emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, slow down to 60 kilometers per hour or the posted speed, whichever is lower. If possible, give them extra space by moving into the adjacent lane.

FOG ALERT
As with falling snow or freezing rain, if you run into fog, use your headlights’ low beams. “If you use high beams, it’s going to magnify the snow and fog and you’re not going to see very well,” Wilson says. “Or if you have fog lights, use them.”

WATCH FOR WILDLIFE
Animals will often wander near winter roadways, drawn by the salt and other detritus thrown up by cars. Keep an eye out for signs warning of wildlife.

STAY IN CONTROL
Eight tips for handling your vehicle in slippery winter conditions:

  1. Always hold the steering wheel with both hands. “Use 9-and-3 positioning, so you can easily straighten out without oversteering,” says Ron Wilson of AMA Driver Education.
  2. Don’t use cruise control on slippery roads. Your tires can lose traction trying to maintain a set speed.
  3. Apply your brakes well before entering a turn, so the vehicle slows down in a straight line. Leave plenty of extra room for braking.
  4. Don’t pump the brakes—especially if your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS). “If you pump, you’re saying to the system, ‘I want to stop, I don’t want to stop, I want to stop, and so on,” Wilson notes. “With ABS, as soon as you apply the brakes full-on, it brings the vehicle to a stop.”
  5.  If your car was built before 2011, it may not have ABS. In which case, push your brake pedal until it’s at the threshold of locking. Then ease up from there.
  6. If you’re driving around a curve and your car starts to slide, keep a light grip on the wheel and steer gently in the direction you want the vehicle to go. Just don’t turn the wheel too much: When the tires catch their grip again, you don’t want to overcorrect.
  7. Don’t touch the brakes if your car is skidding out. If possible, shift into neutral and let the car slow on its own.
  8. Look ahead down the road where you want to go and that’s where you’ll steer to. When the tires have found their grip again, resume an appropriate speed.

Originally by Mark Richardson via AMA Insider – amainsider.com

Recommended Winter Driving Tips

Source: By Ron Wilson via ama.ab.ca, April 6, 2018


Heading out on the road after the first snowfall requires most of us to quickly think back to last winter and remember what we’re supposed to do (or not do) when driving on good winter roads and sometimes on less than ideal road conditions and more so when severe weather hits.

We’ve got you covered. Here are some tips so you know what to do:

  • Look well ahead and watch for black ice at temperatures between +4°C and -4°C, where the road surface ahead looks black and shiny. Most times, a driver can’t see black ice. As a general rule, if the pavement looks shiny and black instead of grey-white, slow down.
  • Watch for ice build-up at intersections, bridge decks and ramps and always slow down before the icy area.
  • Drive for the conditions. Winter road conditions can change very quickly, so drive proactively, reduce your speed, leave more space between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Use gentle braking, steering and acceleration when driving on snow covered roads.
  • Never use cruise control on wet or icy roads. Using cruise control when there is a build-up of water and ice can cause your vehicle to hydroplane (a loss of control due to a layer of water between your tires and the road). Remember, cruise control is designed for ideal road conditions.
  • Snowplows are equipped with flashing amber and red lights to make them more visible, so be aware flashing amber and red means snowplow ahead.
  • Give emergency road crews room to work. Drivers should allow extra room on the road for snowplow and tow truck operators, as well as for paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement. Also remember that drivers must reduce speed to 60 km/h or the posted speed, whichever is lower, when passing emergency vehicles or tow trucks that are stopped with their lights flashing.
  • Check your highway route before you leave the house. Visit our AMA Road Reports® interactive map from your computer, smartphone, or tablet before you head out on your travels, or follow us on Twitter to get updates on road & weather condition information.

Quick Question: In a 90km/h zone, are you speeding if you’re driving at 80km/h?
Answer: Yes – if you’re driving through blowing snow. Speed limits posted on highway signs, indicate the maximum speed you should travel at based on ideal road, weather or traffic conditions. The reality is speeding can also refer to travelling too fast for those conditions.


Source: By Ron Wilson via ama.ab.ca, April 6, 2018

How to Inspect a Tire

By Michelin | via michelin.ca


Once a month, or before embarking on a long road trip, check your tires for wear and damage problems. An easy way to check for wear is by using the quarter test. Just grab a Canadian quarter and follow these 3 easy steps:

  • Hold the quarter between your thumb and forefinger with the quarter head facing down.
  • Select a point on your tire where tread appears the lowest and insert the figurehead first into one of the grooves.
  • If the top of the figurehead is covered by tread, you’re driving with the legal and safe amount of tread. If your tread gets below that, your car’s ability to grip the road in adverse conditions is greatly reduced.

For more serious problems, try our easy-to-use online tire inspection tool below to help you identify issues and learn how to fix them. (Need new tires? Use our practical Michelin Tire Selector Tool)

To make sure your car’s tread is road-ready, do the Quarter Test below.

Source: https://www.michelin.ca/en/visualInspection.html

Summer Driving Safety Tips

By Ron Wilson on June 18, 2018 | via ama.ab.ca


Did you know that 86 percent of collisions in Alberta involve at least one driver committing an avoidable error? Before hitting the road in the summer months, protect yourself – and fellow drivers – by brushing up on your driver safety tips.

Tires

Tires are often the most neglected part of a vehicle. They should be checked visually prior to each trip, and at least once a month with a tire gauge. Not only will improperly inflated tires affect handling and performance, they can have a negative impact on safety devices such as antilock braking systems, traction control systems, and stability control systems.

Did you know, for instance, that many tire blowouts are caused by improperly inflated tires? The low air pressure causes tire heating and ultimately rubber failure. And if the pressure is really low, the rim will dig into the tire’s liner, compromising the structure.

Other good tire tips include:

  • Check the condition and placement of the spare tire.
  • Measure tire pressure when the tires are cold. “Cold” means that a vehicle has been stationary for at least three hours or has not been driven more than 2 km.

Checking tires will benefit drivers by improving handling and braking performance. Other benefits to proper tire inflation include increased driver safety, longer tire service life, better fuel economy, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Blowouts

Do you know what to do if you have a tire blowout? Having put hundreds of drivers through our Roadbot driving simulator’s “tire blowout” module, I can tell you that most people respond incorrectly to such a situation. This bears out in NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) data, which shows that tire-related crashes are linked to 700 deaths in North America every year.

No matter which tire blows out – the front or the rear – the steps for safely maintaining control of your vehicle are the same; the only difference is in how you feel it. In a front tire blowout, you will feel the force more in the vehicle’s steering in the direction of the tire that has blown; in a rear blowout, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the vehicle.

Remember, the goal in any blowout scenario is to keep the vehicle balanced and under control. Keep calm, as any overreaction – including oversteering, slamming on the brakes or abruptly removing your foot from the accelerator – can result in a loss of vehicle control.

Should you ever have a tire blowout, AMA recommends the following steps:

  • Hold the steering wheel with both hands (preferably in the 9 & 3 steering position).
  • Gradually release the accelerator.
  • Look well ahead, steering where you want to go to stabilize your vehicle and regain control. Correct the steering as necessary.
  • Once your vehicle has stabilized, apply gentle pressure to the brake pedal. Continue to slow down and pull off the road.
  • Park in a safe place and put your hazard lights on.

Vehicle Checks

Prior to hitting the road, always do a walk-around inspection to check for obstacles behind or near your vehicle. You should also check your lights, windows, and visual condition of the tires. The latter includes:

  • Check the inside of the wheels for brake fluid or mud build-up
  • Check the tire pressure.
    • Many drivers look at the sidewall of the tire to see the maximum amount of air that can go in the tire. But the maximum is not the optimum. The recommended pressures are printed on the vehicle’s tire information label/tire placard, which is usually attached to the edge of the driver’s door, the door post, the glove box or the fuel door.
    • If you can’t find the label, check your owner’s manual.
  • Check the tire tread.
    • The minimum allowable tread depth is 1.6mm (2/32”) on all four tires for cars, light trucks and multi-purpose passenger vehicles/SUVs.
    • If you don’t have a tread-depth gauge, a quick way to measure your tires is with a Canadian toonie. Just put the outside edge of the toonie in your tire’s tread and if your tire tread reaches only about halfway into the letters, your tires are not safe and need to be replaced.
  • Check the condition of the lug nuts and valve cap.

Emergency Vehicles

If you’re travelling west on a two-way urban roadway and an emergency vehicle is approaching from the east with lights and sirens activated, do you have to yield to it? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone; in fact, most drivers are uncertain of the rules. To clear things up, when an ambulance, firetruck or police emergency vehicle is approaching from any direction with lights and sirens activated, you must yield the right-of-way.

These are the proper steps:

  • Safely move your vehicle to allow the emergency vehicle passage.
  • Drive as close as safely possible to the right curb or edge of a two-way roadway.
  • If on a one-way street, drive right or left to the nearest curb.
  • If you’re in the middle of an intersection when an emergency vehicle approaches with lights and sirens activated, safely clear the intersection.
  • Come to a complete stop until the emergency vehicle has passed. Check that no other emergency vehicles are approaching.

To be more aware of emergency vehicles, look at least 15 to 20 seconds ahead and check the mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. If you see that you’re driving in the lane next to an emergency vehicle (or tow truck) that is stopped at the side of the road with their lights flashing, slow down to 60 km/h (or less, if the speed limit is lower) and drive with increased caution. Even better, to give them room to work safely, move over one lane if possible. If there’s a full lane buffer between you and the emergency vehicle or tow truck, you may continue at the posted speed limit. Lastly, if following behind an emergency vehicle with sirens or lights operating, maintain a safe following distance of at least 150 metres.

Source: https://ama.ab.ca/2018/06/14/summer-driving-safety-tips

Spring Tire-Care Tips to Help You Stay Safe on the Road


Source: By Jeff S. Bartlett via consumerreports.org, March 20, 2019

Winter is tough on tires: Road conditions can be brutal, and temperature swings can often mean your tires have become badly deflated. As spring emerges, potholes often blossom and create their own risks to your tires. That makes this a great time to spend a few minutes checking your tires and making pressure corrections as needed.

“Being proactive with tire maintenance can improve safety and save money in the long run,” says Gene Petersen, Consumer Reports’ tire program manager. “Just a little time spent inspecting can make a big difference.”

If You Have All-Season Tires

Check the air pressure level on your tires and adjust it as needed to the amount specified on the tire information placard found on the driver’s doorjamb. Improper inflation pressure can affect tire longevity and fuel efficiency.

Don’t forget to check the pressure on your car’s spare tire, too.

Inspect your tires for signs of damage, such as cuts, cracks, and sidewall blisters that could result from striking potholes. Some tire manufacturers and retailers provide road-hazard warranties that can save you money if you have to replace a tire.

If there’s irregular treadwear, that can indicate a problem with how well a tire is balanced on its wheel. Coming out of winter, that treadwear can signal that the tires are out of alignment or that the car’s suspension has been damaged. You might experience symptoms of this while you’re driving, such as a shimmy in the steering wheel or the car pulling to either side. Have such issues evaluated by your mechanic, Petersen says.

This is also a good time to check on how worn your tires have become.

Check the tread depth by placing a quarter upside down in a tire groove. The distance from the coin’s rim to George Washington’s hairline is about 4⁄32 of an inch. If you see all of Washington’s head in any one groove where a treadwear indicator appears, you might want to start shopping for new tires while you have some seasonal grip left. They should definitely be replaced by the time they reach 2⁄32 of an inch. Worn tires tend to stop longer on wet pavement and hydroplane on water more frequently—a concern when spring showers may be in the forecast. (Learn more about how tire wear affects performance.)

It may also be time to rotate your tires. This typically needs to happen every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Consult your owner’s manual for guidance on the rotation pattern (front-to-rear, side-to-side) and frequency. Some retailers may provide free rotations to customers. This service not only saves money but also is good encouragement to remain on schedule. Regular rotations keep the tires wearing evenly and can help maximize their longevity.

See Consumer Reports’ complete all-season tire ratings.

If You Have Winter/Snow Tires

As the risk of snow and ice melts away, it’s time to replace your winter/snow tires with all-season tires. Don’t delay: The tread on winter/snow tires wears quickly, and you’ll want to preserve them for future use. On top of that, all-season tires provide better grip on dry and wet roads.

Inspect the tires for potential damage: Check the bead area—the inner lip of the tire that seals against the wheel—if the tires have already been dismounted from the wheel. Sometimes the bead can be damaged in the removal process, creating rips or tears in the rubber.

Like with the all-season tires, check the tread depth with a quarter, placing George Washington’s head down into each major groove. If the top of Washington’s head is visible, there is only about 4⁄32 of an inch or less of tread and the tire might not have enough useful life for another season.

Finally, clean the tires with soap and water to remove salt and/or road de-icer. Store in a cool, dry place—out of the sun. 

See Consumer Reports’ complete winter/snow tire ratings.


Source: By Jeff S. Bartlett via consumerreports.org, March 20, 2019

The Best All-Season and Summer Tires for Cars in Canada for 2019


Source: By Éric Descarries via auto123.com, March 28, 2019.

Spring is just around the corner; in fact in your corner of the country it might already be here. And just about anywhere in Canada, whoever has winter tires on their car is looking forward to putting their summer tires back on, in many cases because these tires are mounted on their original wheels that certainly look a lot better than those sorry-looking winter wheels (sometimes, half-rusted steel wheels). For others, it might also be because their original tires are beginning to show too much wear.

When is it time to buy new summer tires?

Today’s cars and light trucks require much less maintenance than before. Even checking air pressure in the tires can be handled by the vehicle’s computer that will warn the driver in case of low pressure. Nonetheless, nothing will tell you about tire wear other than a visual inspection. You might not be a tire expert, but you still can tell if a tire is wearing out.

If in doubt, there’s no better adviser than your local tire dealer. In this case, it’s probably wise to consult a professional tire dealer, though a technician at one of those megastores might be able to handle your call for help.

So you say you’re still seeing treads on your tires? That does not necessarily mean they’re still safe. In many areas, the law requires that you change your tires if there’s only 1/16th (2/32nd) of an inch of depth left of the grooves. But don’t take that to mean you can keep riding on yours! Some tires with about 5/32nd of an inch could still look good, but they’ll be dangerous in heavy rain, as many motorists have discovered when their vehicle started aquaplaning in such circumstances. In short, if a technician tells you your tires have to be changed, best pay heed and do it!

Before you change tires

No matter how old your vehicle is, before mounting new tires on your car or light truck, it’s a good idea to have the front end inspected and repaired or corrected if need be. Depending where in Canada you live, you might have put your ride through a rough winter; deep potholes (especially in cities) can easily have screwed up your wheel alignment. Irregularly worn tires are tell-tale signs of this issue!

Which is the best tire for your car?

Obviously, in most cases, you should go for the same tire the car came with – but that depends what it came with. Sometimes a superior tire is preferable, and this is where the real work begins.

To make sure we got all our facts straight, we went to a well-known tire dealer in the Montreal area to find out which tires could be considered the best available on the market. Obviously this is one question that cannot be answered simply. Simply because, nowadays, there are too many applications. Imagine the more-than-1,000 sizes found in manufacturers’ catalogs (which can be read only by computer since there are so many!).

Before making a choice, consult an expert. Of course, you’ll be looking for the least expensive tire possible. But there’s a nuance to that: you should be looking for the best quality for the price! A cheaper tire is always possible but if that’s your sole criteria, you’re likely to lose in terms of comfort, road-handling and durability.

It’s important to understand that most cars require a specific type of tire that might not always correspond to the price you expected/hoped to pay! For example, so many cars come from the manufacturer with so-called “performance’ tires with the Z speed index.

Speed Index

The speed index refers to the maximum speed a tire is rated to sustain for a pre-set amount of time. The letter identifying it can be found on the sidewall of a tire, after the size of a tire.

For example, a tire size of 205/55 R16 means the tire has a tread surface that’s 205 mm wide, while the sidewall measures 55% of that width. The R indicates it’s a radial tire while the 16 is in inches to identify the circumference of the wheel on which it’s to be mounted. Then follow digits like 94Z. What’s most important is the letter. In this case, the Z means the tire can sustain a speed of 149 mph (240 km/h).

Nowadays, standard tires will come with S, T, H or Z ratings meaning sustained top speeds of 112 mph (180 km/h), 118 mph (190 km/h), 130 mph (210 km/h) and 149 mph (240 km/h). It’s always best not to go for lower indexes, though many dealers will offer H-rated tires that are more comfortable and ensure a smoother ride than Z-rated tires can deliver.

The last remark also applies to “Run-Flat” tires found on many new cars. Often criticized for their hard ride, they tend to be overlooked by motorists in favour of smoother tires. They are a viable option but be aware that your vehicle then probably doesn’t carry a spare tire.

All-season and Green Tires

It’s far less common these days to talk about “summer” tires. These are tires with little tread and aimed mostly at very high-performance automobiles. Today, most vehicles are sold with “all season” tires and that’s what most people should be looking for when buying tires. This type of tire has treads designed to evacuate as much water as possible on wet pavement. They’re also designed for light snowfalls (except in Quebec from December 1 to March 15, when they’re not permitted).

What’s more, many popular-size tires are available in a “Green” design. Green tires are made of different (and sometimes harder) rubbers that reduce road friction, hence improving fuel economy. They are considered to be more eco-friendly, but keep in mind that what they gain in fuel economy, they might lose in road grip, especially on wet pavement.

By the way, it’s possible to order most car tire tires online. That said, if your knowledge of tires is limited, we do recommend that you visit a professional tire centre and speak with a qualified expert.

So, what now?

Depending on where you live in Canada, what follows are recommendations for the best all-season and summer tires available on the market in 2019. Note that this is only a sample since there are so many makes and models out there. But as mentioned, keep in mind that you should choose a tire based on its quality first, and its price second!

1. Michelin Premier A/S

This most recent product from French tiremaker Michelin is slightly more expensive than most competing products but it is available for cars, minivans and even smaller SUVs and CUVs (crossovers). Its main characteristics are grooves that expand as the tire wears out. This helps the Premier A/S remain a great tire on wet pavement even as it begins wears, yielding better braking capabilities than any other tire on the market. The Premier also lasts much longer.

2. Pirelli Cinturato P7 AS+

This tire from Italian manufacturer Pirelli can be fitted on many sedans and coupes like the Camry and Fusion, as well as on minivans and small SUVs and CUVs. It is of the “green” category, with low rolling resistance. And it’s also available in more affordable H-speed index or higher-performance V-speed index for faster cars like mid-sized BMWs. Pirelli P4s can also be considered for similar applications.

3. Goodyear Assurance All Season

The All Season is an evolution of the Assurance family of tires. This type of tire is for regular sedans and coupes, minivans and some SUVs and CUVs. Providing good fuel economy, it’s also very capable on wet pavement and light snow. What’s more, it’s quite affordable and is available in H- and V-speed index.

If you own a performance vehicle, you might consider the Eagle line of Goodyear tires available for Grand Touring to ultra-high-performance vehicle, made in many formats and mainly for all seasons.

4. Bridgestone Turanza

It’s almost impossible to describe all the tires offered by Bridgestone (including its Firestone brand of affordable products). But if you’re looking for a comfort-focused tire, the Turanza line of products is worth checking out. It’s available in H-and V-speed index. On the other hand, if you drive a performance sedan or coupe, you might be interested by the Potenza line of tires though there are too many models to be enumerated here.

Bridgestone has a complete line or Ecopia low-resistance summer tires specially designed for vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to maximize fuel economy. These tires are mostly available with T-speed rating (118 mph or 190 km/h).

5. Toyo Extensa A/S

If you really want another made-in-Japan quality tire, why not have a look at Toyo’s products, particularly the Extensa A/S or else the more-expensive but more-durable Versado Noir; both are available in the most popular sizes.

6. Nokian zLine A/S

Here’s a nice one for you. Suppose you really like your Nokian winter tires. Did you know the Finnish tiremaker also makes a line of quality summer products?  For instance there’s the zLine A/S available in the 2.0 version that’s rated “green”.

7. GT Radial Champiro

Surprisingly, many Chinese brands of tires are showing up on the market and earning a reputation as being increasingly reliable and efficient. However, there’s an Indonesian brand available that really stands out for its low price and high quality, and that is GT Radials. Its Champiro A/S for cars and minivans or Savero SUV products are beginning to show up as quality tires that are more and more appreciated by motorists.

8. Nexen and Kumho

Nexen is a South Korean tire brand that comes in an H-rated Aria series, much sought-after by owners of smaller cars. Note that there are other Korean tires that offer similar quality at a reasonable price, for example Kumho with its Solus line of tires.

9. Cooper Evolution

Let’s not forget Cooper, an American tiremaker that’s been producing a wide range of different types of tires for more than 100 years. Many of its products are sold under different name brands, but its Evolution Tour and Evolution H/T could very well be the answer to many of your needs for your car or SUV, and they come at a very reasonable price.

10. Continental ProContact

You’ve possibly noticed that many European cars, especially German-made ones, are delivered out of the factory with Continental tires.  No surprise there, since Continental is itself a German brand. This manufacturer offers a big array of tires for all applications but for the majority of motorists, its ProContact line of tires fills most needs.

By the way, Continental even produces a tire model featuring the ContiSeal technology that can plug any small holes in the tire, which could be reassuring for drivers fearing flats or slow leaks!

As you can see there’s a huge range of products to choose from, but whatever you do try to get a quality product, one that should last three to four summers. Remember that your life and that of your passengers relies upon four small contact patches on the pavement, patches that are not much bigger than the size of your palm. And that, at speeds of more than 100 km/h! So always keep an eye on your tire pressure even if you have a monitor in your dashboard.

(The author would like to thank Stéphane Parenteau of Pneus Premier Choix in Laval for his technical help)


Source: By Éric Descarries via auto123.com, March 28, 2019.




Winter Tires: To buy or not to buy?

Originally Posted by the Calgary Journal: Warkentin, Alec. "Winter Tires: To Buy or Not to Buy?" The Calgary Journal. N.p., 04 Dec. 2017. Web. 7 Dec. 2017.

Watch Tom Harper de-bunk some common tire myths below:

Any discussion around winter tires is awash with myth and misconception. Are they really needed? If so, how many? Can one skate by with a decent set of all-seasons? If you have all-wheel drive, you don’t need winters.

Tom Harper knows these kinds of conversations better than most. As co-owner of Harper’s Tire, which opened in Calgary in 1931, he’s part of the third generation of Harpers to sit at the helm of one of the city’s oldest tire companies.

Bald tires endanger everyone

As one of the patriarchs of the Calgary tire service industry, Harper encounters such winter tire fallacies on a regular basis. For him, one of the most irritating things to witness in the winter are drivers operating vehicles with bald or nearly-bald tires.

“I’ve been on roads where guys in front of you have been spinning around, like on Deerfoot,” says Harper. “It’s not good…. that’s one thing for me, the danger. I’ve got a child, too. I don’t want to have them risked because somebody isn’t driving appropriately.”

But those aren’t the only problems associated with winter wheels, and Harper hopes to clarify some misconceptions and answer some common questions.

A quick primer

“Everybody has their different myths about whether winter tires are worthwhile or not, and the best thing to say is that once you drive on one you’ll never not drive on one again,” says Harper.

There are a few major differences between tires specifically designed for handling winter conditions and those that are designed for year-round use. The first is the softer rubber compound that remains more flexible as temperature drops. This leads to better traction on ice and snow.

They also have different tread compounds, blocks, and sipes, which also increase traction and water removal.

Harper says the cost of a tire is roughly $200, but the difference between driving with them and without them is “night and day.”

There are many types of tires that range from entry-level to high-performance. They include snow tires, all-season tires, and all-weather tires, which are designed to operate better in snowy conditions than all-seasons but don’t work as well in warmer temperatures.

Can I just buy two tires, not four?

Some people believe that only two out of four are needed depending on if a vehicle is front-wheel or rear-wheel drive.

“If you had the two new snow tires on the front, and two all-seasons that are worn, you’re going have that amazing grip on the front,” says Harper. “But as soon as [you] drive out here, you’re going to spin around. It’s safer for [you] to run on the worn all-seasons than doing that.”

If I buy winter tires, should I use my summer rims?

Harper also recommends buying tires on their own rims, which is most cost-effective in the long run.

When not in use, generally over the summer months, winter tires should be stored away from light — which can cause the rubber to dry out and crack — and away from the elements outside, preferably in tire bags.“It costs less to put on a wheel and tire package then it does to change them over,” says Harper. “A misconception is that it’s harder on the tire if you don’t have it. But if you have it at a reputable tire store and they install them properly, you’re not going to have an issue — it just costs more.”

How can I measure my treads?

Another important consideration is tread percentage, deduced by calculating the wear on a tire when compared to new. A simple way to calculate tread can be done by taking a quarter and placing it in between the ridges of a tire. On a new tire, one-half to two-thirds of a quarter should be visible. If almost the entire quarter is still visible, it’s probably time to buy new tires.

What should I watch out for?

According to Harper, the biggest limitation is that at the end of the day, it’s still a tire. Depending on weather and road conditions, tires are going to behave differently, and each are designed to work best in specific situations.

“You can’t change the composition of a tire, right?” says Harper. “It’s hard to make it do everything.”


Originally Posted by the Calgary Journal: Warkentin, Alec. "Winter Tires: To Buy or Not to Buy?" The Calgary Journal. N.p., 04 Dec. 2017. Web. 7 Dec. 2017.