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.

Time for a SnowPass!

What’s better than giving your fourth or fifth grader a lift ticket? How about providing them with the opportunity to get outside, be active and enjoy Canada’s winter wonderland? The Grade 4 & 5 SnowPass is a great opportunity to your nine or ten-year-old to try a new sport and get them outside during the winter months. When you purchase a SnowPass, you receive three free lift passes for each of the 155+ participating ski areas, that’s over 470 lift passes! To see if your favourite ski area is participating, please visit

Just $30 gets SnowPass users access to a bunch of different hills so kids can explore a variety of locations and challenges. Kids get to practise their skill while having the time of their lives, exploring the great hills in our local area, and even a few others while on vacation!

Anyone in grade four or five (or those born in 2006 or 2007) is eligible for the Grade 4 & 5 SnowPass. With over 155+ different participating ski areas – including 31 ski areas in British Columbia, 24 in Alberta, 1 in Saskatchewan, 3 in Manitoba, 31 in Ontario, 58 in Quebec, 8 in Atlantic Canada, and 1 in the Yukon, everyone can take advantage of this amazing deal.  Your child’s grade 4 and 5 SnowPass is valid from December 1st until the end of the ski season.

Learn more about the Grade 4 and 5 SnowPass online and get outdoors into the snow and fresh air!

Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival!

We know that asking you if you like chocolate is like asking if birds have wings or if beaches have sand. Unless you have an allergy to milk, chocolate usually appeals to all ages. Cacao also has a lot of great health benefits, and great quality chocolate has far more beneficial properties than the stuff you’ll find in commercially produced chocolate bars found at the corner store.

And in sloppy Lower Mainland weather, nothing appeals more than a hot drink. And if like us at WestCoast Families, there’s nothing better than blending the soothing appeal of a hot drink with our favourite sweet eats.

Enter the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival, now in its sixth year! From January 16th to February 14th, local cafes and eateries are preparing not just your average hot chocolate, but tons of different flavour blends that will blow your tastebuds out of the water. Vote on your favourites and share pictures on social media in order to win prizes, including hot chocolate from all the different venues across the city. That, and help your favourite local cafe make the claim to fame of offering the best hot chocolate in the city.

To find out more details about the festival, check out City Food and see where you can score the latest and greatest hot chocolate our city has to offer.

10 Tips to Winter Ready Your Vehicle

We asked car expert Bill Gardiner for his top tips to winterize your vehicle. Here’s his advice!

Handle Your Car with Care:

  • Before leaving the driveway, make sure to clean all snow off your entire vehicle before driving. This includes the hood, roof, trunk and all windows. 90% of driving decisions are based on visual input, so you don’t want snow sliding off your roof and covering your windows while you are on the road.
  • To protect your paint from harsh winter road salt, invest in a winter paint protectant that can be applied like a wax and will last through the winter months.
  • Always keep your gas tank at least half full during the winter. Not going below the halfway mark could decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Once the moisture freezes, fuel flow is blocked, and your engine may not start on a cold morning.

Temperature Matters:

  • Check your antifreeze before the temperature falls, and flush the entire system if necessary. The same antifreeze that keeps your engine from boiling over in the summer will protect your engine coolant from freezing. Antifreeze can lower the freezing point of the coolant to -34 degrees F.
  • For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, the air pressure inside your tires decreases one or two PSI. Maintaining the correct air pressure is crucial to the tires’ rolling efficiency, steering, grip, wear and load-carrying capabilities.
  • While checking tire pressure, perform a quick “penny test” to see if you need new tires. With a penny-inserted upside-down in the tread grooves of the tire, if you see the top of the queen’s head, it’s time for new tires.
  • Once the temperature begins to drop below 7°C, you’ll need to install your winter tires. If you’re in the market for new tires, the Goodyear Ultra Grip 8 Performance tire uses a compound to remain flexible at lower temperatures and helps deliver enhanced traction in changing winter conditions.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings:

  • Driving in harsh winter weather requires concentration. Try to avoid all distractions, including eating, drinking and cell phone use. These distractions can result in over-steering and abrupt braking.
  • When driving in inclement weather it’s crucial to keep both hands on the steering wheel. Don’t forget to check your mirrors and pay full attention to the road and vehicles around you. Also, on ice or snow covered roads, increase your separation distance from cars around you as everyone will need more room to stop.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

  • Be prepared just in case something does happen and you have to stop on the side of the road this winter. You’ll be thankful you thought ahead and prepared a simple survival kit for your car!

Include items such as a flashlight with fresh batteries, a blanket, food bars, water bottles, cell phone charger, jumper cables, flares, a HELP sign, and a first aid kit. A survival kit may seem unnecessary, but could save your life if you get stranded in extreme conditions.

For more helpful car care advice or information on tires for cars, light trucks, SUVs and more, visit or