stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
ALL-SEASON OR WINTER TIRES?
space
As Canadians head into December, it's the annual debate on what type of rubber is best for the season
space
By JASON TCHIR
Special to The Globe and Mail
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Thursday, November 9, 2017 – Page D1

This is Canada. We pride ourselves on being able to survive the most miserable winters anywhere. We giggle (to ourselves, politely) at tourists wearing down jackets before the Christmas decorations are in stores.

Some of us still think winter tires are for snowflakes, so the annual debate has begun in many of the country's major metropolitan areas: Are winter tires really necessary?

"We've heard everything from 'The company is just trying to sell more tires' to 'I don't need them because I have all-wheel drive,' " Michelin Canada driving expert Carl Nadeau said.

Nobody's really sure how many of us use winter tires - surveys vary. In a 2016 Michelin survey of drivers in Ontario, 43 per cent did not own winter tires - tires with the mountain snowflake symbol on the side - and 50 per cent thought all-season tires were just fine for Canadian roads. In a nationwide survey that same year by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), about 68 per cent of Canadians said they use them - almost twice as many as two decades ago. The TRAC survey reported use was 100 per cent in Quebec, where winter tires are required by law from Dec. 15 to March 15. But use generally decreased from east (80 per cent in the Maritimes) to west (49 per cent in British Columbia).

"The tire industry invented this idea of the all-season, and people said, 'Great, I don't have to buy extra stuff in the winter,' " said Geoff Wiebe, a Regina-based tire expert for Kal Tire.

"All-seasons say M+S [mud and snow] on the side but really don't hold up on snow and ice when we test. We call them three-season tires," Wiebe says.

The seven-degree solution?

Starting at 7 C, the rubber in all-seasons starts to get harder - like a hockey puck - and that means they lose grip and start sliding.

"It's perhaps even harder than it used to be. A lot of the all-season tires now are promoted as being long-lasting - up to 130,000 kilometres," said Raynald Marchand, general manager of programs with the Canada Safety Council. "To do that, and to improve fuel economy, the rubber needs to be harder."

While winter tires have biting edges to grip on snow and ice, the real difference is the rubber. They are made of a softer compound that is supposed to stick better to cold roads - and stay supple down to minus-40 C.

"People often buy winter tires because they want a tire to help them get going, so they don't get stuck," said Gene Petersen, head of tire testing for Consumer Reports.

"But it's equally important to maintain control and stop - and that's where winter tires really stand out."

While some all-seasons are getting better on snow and ice, Consumer Reports tests show that winter tires deliver better grip on snow and ice.

"In our tests, they all do the job - they all do what they've claimed," Petersen said. "It's one of the few products people buy that they're entirely satisfied with."

In Consumer Reports tests, winter tires stopped six feet (1.8 metres) shorter, on average, than all-seasons on ice. And winter tires required a shorter distance - 22 feet (6.7 metres) less than all-seasons - to accelerate from five to 20 miles per hour (eight to 32 km/h) on moderately packed snow. In Kal Tire tests conducted by an independent firm, winter tires stopped more than six metres shorter on loose snow and almost nine metres shorter on icy conditions at 30 km/h.

And all-wheel drive doesn't make a difference in stopping - in fact, heavier all-wheel-drive vehicles can take even longer than a two-wheeldrive vehicle to stop on all-seasons.

"All-wheel drive is a performance feature, not a safety feature, and it has nothing to do with braking and cornering," Nadeau said. "With allwheel drive, you can accelerate pretty good on snow from a stoplight, but when you have to stop, physics always wins."

So why don't we just keep winter tires on all year? Because in warmer weather, the softer rubber wears faster and they can take longer to stop.

"All tires seem to be some sort of compromise," Petersen said. "They don't have the same stopping ability on wet and dry roads."

There is also a newer category - all-weather tires - which are made of a harder rubber than winter tires and are designed to be left on all year.

"We've only tested two. They do in fact provide pretty good winter traction," Petersen said. "But there is some compromise in terms of dry and wet grip."

Should all of us use winter tires?

Tire companies now urge Canadians to put on winter tires when the temperature hits 7 C. In most of Canada, that tends to be in October. That means you're not only ready for the first snowfall, you're avoiding lineups - and a limited supply of winter tires - at the tire store.

"If you wait until the first snow, you might not be able to find tires," Kal Tire's Wiebe said.

But does everybody, everywhere, need to put on winter tires?

"I look at it this way: If you live in an area where it doesn't snow a lot, you can probably get away with a good set of all-season tires," Petersen said. "Or if you have the kind of job where you can sit at home and wait for the snow plow to come around."

But that's not most of Canada. And even though Vancouver has had snowless winters, last season it saw almost 70 centimetres - with nearby Abbotsford getting more than 128 cm.

"Vancouver has ice, and almost anywhere you drive outside Vancouver other than due south has big weather," said George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association. "People in Vancouver and Calgary rely on all-wheel drive for winter, often eking out three or four winters on their original tires if they're leasing. Winter traction will be acceptable for accelerating, but they're unaware of how much braking and steering have degraded since the tires were new."

At the end of the day, "people have to use their heads," Marchand said.

"I used to live in Victoria, and when there was snow, people couldn't go anywhere," he said.

"There's no question that winter tires provide better traction in cold weather."

Associated Graphic

When the snows of December come early: A girl helps push a van on Avenue Road in Toronto during one of the first storms of winter, 2014.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

All-weather tires may be rated as effective in mud or snow, but manufacturers recommend winter tires once the temperature goes down to 7 C.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Lysiane_Gagnon Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page