Winter Driving Tips

By: Carl Nadeau, Michelin Driving Expert

With reports indicating that parts of British Columbia may be slated for a cold, snowy winter, residents across the province should be thinking about how to prepare their vehicles for the unpredictable season ahead. Michelin recently conducted a nationwide survey to gain insights into Canadians’ winter driving habits and found that one-third of Canadians do not own winter tires.

In British Columbia, 56% of the survey respondents indicated they do not own winter tires because it does not snow enough or get cold enough to warrant them, opting to stick with their all-seasons instead.

With harsher conditions anticipated on the horizon, it might be helpful for drivers to review some misconceptions and better understand how winter tires can actually increase their road safety as the weather changes, sometimes abruptly so.

Myth: All-season tires are fine for the winter season.
While all-season tires are meant to keep you safe in occasional, transitional weather conditions, winter tires are recommended once the temperature dips below 7 degrees Celsius and consistently approaches freezing, particularly when precipitation gets added to the mix. Winter tires are manufactured with a specific tread and a rubber compound designed to maintain your vehicle’s grip, traction, and braking quality at lower temperatures. Below 7 degrees Celsius, rubber on non-winter tires begins to harden and lose effectiveness. The flexible, silica-rich rubber used for winter tires is more effective, particularly if you don’t want to slide around like a hockey puck.

Myth: Two winter tires on the front of your vehicle will suffice
Having only two winter tires installed on your vehicle can become a serious issue when braking or turning. The winter tires on the front axle will have stronger grip, meaning the rear tires could slide more easily, which could potentially send you into a spin.

Myth: Winter tires aren’t necessary on AWD vehicles
All-wheel drive is a performance feature that many behind the wheel enjoy, but it’s not a safety feature. Increased tread blocks, micro-pumps that absorb water, tridimensional sipes, and the tire compound all play a part in the overall performance of a vehicle’s tires in winter conditions; and tires are the only part of your vehicle that actually touch the road.

Winter can be an unpredictable season. Knowing the value of winter tires will increase your options for a safer, more reliable drive, helping to prepare you to weather the harshest of conditions.

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