Do Winter Tires Really Make a Difference?
There is a popular myth that rolls around every year at the beginning of winter that all-season tires will get you safely through the winter season. While this may hold true for areas that do not experience true winter conditions, this myth is not the case when it comes to almost all of Canada which experiences true cold and snowy conditions during the winter season.
In minus 18 degree conditions, with wind chills in the minus 25-30 range, the Young Drivers of Canada Winter Tire Challenge tested different types of tire performance and through the assistance of its participants, concluded the following results:
In terms of cornering, a Premium Winter tire was quickest through a slalom chicane course that was designed to showcase tire handling similar to that of a snow covered ice road.
The Ice Tire was second in terms of its performance, with third place going to an All Season tire. The other tires tested, tied for last.
Handling snow drifts, a Premium Winter tire and Ice Tire handled the snow drifts with any loss of forward momentum.
Ice braking saw the best performance results from a Premium Winter Tire and Budget Winter tire, with the shortest stopping distances. The All Weather tire came in dead last, with distances and placement speed dependent.
John Mahler from the Toronto Star Weighs in on Winter Tires
John Mahler, Tire Specialist for the Toronto Star, Wheels participated in the event and concluded:
“Winter tires do work better in winter than other classes of tires. Of course much of this testing was subjective. But still has validity; a driver’s butt that feels what the car is doing is still one of the best driving instruments available. ”
Mr. Mahler’s complete tire review can be found at: Toronto Star – Winter Tire Evaluation Day A Real Eye Opener
The Winter Tire Challenge event showcased a variety of tires available to consumers inclusive of:
Dedicated winter tires, designated with a pictograph of a peaked mountain with a snowflake.
Ice tires, a variation of winter tires designed with specific rubber compounds to work on icy roads without having to use studs.
All season tires, designed for multi-season use but not for winter use.
All weather tires, the newest player on the tire market. A true four season tire also designated by Transport Canada’s pictograph of mountain peaks with snowflakes. These tires have been tested and have passed the snow/winter tire criteria.
A documentary of the day’s testing and interviews of the drivers was created and will be used as a teaching tool for new Young Drivers of Canada students, many of whom have never driven in the snow. In addition, the complete Winter Tire Fact Sheet – The One Tire Myth”, can be downloaded at https://www.yd.com/sites/default/files/handout-wintertires-v2a.pdf
As drivers gear up for winter driving, the Ontario Government announced a plan which will see insurance rates drop for drivers who purchase and install winter tires effective January 1, 2016. It is hoped that other provinces will follow suit, eventually legislating winter tire use as seen in provinces such as Quebec.