Winter Tires

Winter Tire Symbol'Tis the season, to think about winter tires that is. Residents in the lower mainland and Vancouver Island might be able to get away with good all season tires if they stick close to home, but the rest of the province really should be equipped with true winter tires. After all, the signs requiring winter tires or the carrying of chains are already up in some parts of the province.

A true winter tire will have a graphic of a mountain and snowflake symbol along with the M+S designation. All season tires are not principally winter tires, even though they may say M&S or Mud and Snow on the sidewalls.

If the tread depth is less than 3.5 mm, winter tires are considered to be worn out. Beware, as the tread wear bars on most tires begin to show at 1.6 mm, which is the minimum for summer season tires. Use a tread depth gauge to be sure.

All season tires, winter tires or studded winter tires, how do you decide? If you will be doing any driving where there is regular snow and ice, all season tires are not a good choice. If you want to use the tires between May 1 and September 30, studded tires are also out of the question. If your vehicle is a front wheel drive the law says that if you choose to use studded tires, you must use four studded tires.

It gets more complicated yet! Tires really should go on in sets of four. This takes the best advantage of ABS, traction control or electronic stability control. For the same reason, use only the tire size specified by the vehicle manufacturer found on the vehicle's tire placard or in your owner's manual. If you can only afford two, put the new tires on the rear.

Traction AA, Temperature B, Tread Wear 250. The Uniform Tire Quality Grade rating gives drivers consistent and reliable information regarding tire performance. This information is also found printed on the tire sidewall and may be used as a guide along with other information about the particular tire.

When you consider that the average passenger car has about as much tread in contact with the road as the area covered by a pair of adult feet, it makes sense to maximize the quality of that contact. Use the services of a tire professional to guide your choices if you are not sure of what to do.



What's your opinion on winter tires in the City of Vancouver

I've been seeing and hearing many ads on television and radio stating that we all should be driving with winter tires when the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celcius.

One radio news station quoted shade tree mechanic saying it is not necessary in Vancouver, despite  our climate where even in winter where we may not get much snow, the ambient temperature is below 7 C. 

Are all seasons sufficient in and around Vancouver City (excluding the mountains and interior regions)?


When you have to drive on hills covered in greasy, wet snow and find yourself sliding backward headed for parked cars and unable to brake, accelerate or steer, which would you rather have, the all seasons that you are driving on or winter tires? The winters may not make a difference in this case, but there is a better chance that they will.

Some of your staff then don't know

What about on wet or icy roads on the mainland and especially when you have to suddenly brake or even brake slightly? As the temperature drops, non-winter tires loose elasticity and the grip they have on the road. Consequently, are poor performers in cooler temperatures. I was told the threshold is below 5-6 C, but recently it seems to be upped to 7C.

And interestingly enough, North American is the only place in the world (so I have been told) where we have All Season tires. The rest of the world have two types: summer and winter. 

Studded Winter Tires

I put studded winter tires on my wife's car last time around because they are helpful with black ice, which is something commonly encountered in the lower mainland and Vancouver Island. It was a bit of a nightmare finding a business that knew how to stud the new tires properly and I'm glad that I used to stud tires as I had to have one business remove the improper sized studs that they tried to foist on me.

However, it's done and I will be installing them this weekend.

Studded tires

I think if you stick with tire shops like Kal-Tire, OK Tire or Canadian tire? you can have them install studs.

I also carry a set of cable chains in my trunk as well for extra protection.  

Every year around the end of September and even up to several weeks ago Canadian Tire had sales on winter tires, typically their Nordic brand manufactured by Goodyear for CT for around 25-35% off. The new Nordics have now holes in them to add studs. They're a rather well rated economical winter tire and if you add studs to them they become even better. In early fall each year, CT is known to have sale prices and also on combos of steel wheels and winter tires. This will save you time and money ever year when you mount your snow tires. Costco recently was selling generic (non hubcentric) steel wheels (rims) for less than $35 each. Personally, I see no excuse not to drive with winter tires in the lower mainland from late November on.   However, one of your collegues (@ICBC) on Twitter posted a comment that you do not need winter tires in Vancouver. The BC and lower mainland RCMP on the contrary say you should. I think that's bad and irresponsible advice of ICBC. Of course, people will go with what suits them. In this case, I can see them taking ICBC's advice and ignoring the recommendation by police.  Hence people still feel winter tires in metro vancouver is unncessary.

BTW. I remember reading something in the USA a while ago where it said the cheapest winter tire outperforms the best all season tire.

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