Five benefits of switching to winter tires

There are lots of good reasons for installing winter tires other than just for use in snow.

With our relatively mild winters, B.C. doesn’t have a mandatory policy like Quebec where motorists must install winter tires between the months of December and March. However, just because we rarely see snow doesn’t mean there aren’t good reasons to make the swap when the temperature starts to drop. So why switch?

Specialty compounds

At about 7 C and below, the rubber in all-season and summer tires begin to harden, drastically reducing their ability to safely grip the road. Winter-specific tires are formulated to continue to provide flexibility, even in sub-zero environments dipping as low as -30 C.

Superior traction

Winter tires feature deeper and more prevalent siping, or thin slits cut horizontally across the tread, designed to create more movement and essentially “bite” onto ice as well as any snow that may be clinging to the road. A more aggressive tread pattern also reduces the chance of snow build-up.

Better braking

In panic situations, drivers sometimes have the tendency to stomp on the brake pedal. This can especially be a problem with stiff, season-inappropriate tires likely to respond by skidding over a cold, slippery surface. Proper winter tires stay soft and have a better chance of helping the vehicle regain composure. In fact, reports show the stopping distance for the latter can be up to 30 per cent better.

Hydroplane resistance

As tires roll over frozen pavement the ice beneath melts, which creates a layer of water a car can potentially slide uncontrollably over. Winter tires reduce this unpleasant phenomenon, known as hydroplaning, through the use of specialty grooves that push the water off to the side.

Snow manoeuvrability

During the times the white stuff does fall, winter tires are typically offered in skinnier sizing compared to OEM. The narrower width increases the pounds per square inch of pressure exerted, resulting in the tires having an easier time cutting through snow rather than floating overtop of it.

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Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights

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One Reply to “Five benefits of switching to winter tires”

  1. […] Seasonal tires are needed for the summer and winter months. In the summer, you need lighter treads and different rubber to grip the road when it’s warm; in the winter, you need larger tires with more grip to counter the effects of ice and wetness on the roads. Choose the right tires. […]

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