November 26, 2014

Snow Tires Are Worth It!

Temperature, ice and snow all have an enormous effect on a tire’s ability to function. Winter tires are designed to accommodate colder temperatures associated with winter driving conditions.  The rubber is softer and remains flexible in cold temperatures. They provide superior traction and grip on a variety of road surfaces and road conditions.  The tread is deeper and more open so that snow and slush will clear from the grooves, enabling the tread to adhere to the road surface.

By contrast, all-season tires are primarily made of a rubber compound that is hard in order to promote long tread life. These tires have a tightly-closed tread design and are poor at providing traction in snow or slush.  They can easily become packed with snow, further reducing grip.   All-season tire rubber also becomes stiffer as the temperature drops.  When the outside temperature drops below +7 C, these harder compounds lose much of their grip, even on clear, dry pavement.  The hard rubber will not flex or conform to the pavement.

Impact on Stopping Distances:

 

Comparative testing has been done in weather conditions of -20C with 3 to 5 cm of accumulated snow.  The MTO tested stopping distance in meters for vehicles travelling in a straight line at 50 km/hour. These results show that winter tires conferred a huge advantage.

 

 

      Vehicle        

 

  All-Season   

 

   Winter Tires   

 

Sub-Compact

 

   50.7 m

 

39.1

 

Minivan

 

    51.1

 

38.3

 

4 Wheel Drive

 

    42.6

 

35.7

A Quebec study also demonstrated that improvements in stopping distance of up to 25% were achieved with winter tires.  Steering and directional control were also improved. [1]

Further Tips

 

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) website offers drivers topics on road safety, including winter driving.  The full brochure can be found at: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/winterdrive/winter-safe-driving.pdf

  • Replace tires when tread depth reaches the regulatory minimum of 1.5mm
  • A 3 mm deep tread can stop a vehicle on wet pavement in a 25% shorter distance than a tire with a 1.5mm deep tread
  • Winter tires provide better traction, braking and handling during frost, snow, slush and particularly under icy conditions
  • Never mix tires of different tread, size or construction
  • Consider studded tires in Northern Ontario
  • Limit the use of cruise control on wet, snowy or icy pavement

Click here to learn how you can prepare for winter driving and what you need to include in your winter driving survival kit.


 [1]

Fournier L, Comparative Evaluation of Performance of All-Season tires and Winter tires, Ministry of Transportation, Quebec 2002