Rubber Association of Canada

Rubber Association of Canada

November 24, 2009 09:34 ET

Winter tires: it's how we roll in Canada

For drivers wanting the safest winter driving experience, tire makers recommend winter tires

Attention: Assignment Editor, Automotive Editor, Environment Editor, Transportation Editor TORONTO, NOVEMBER 24, 2009 --(Marketwire - Nov. 24, 2009) - The great Canadian winter is nearly upon us. Drivers from coast-to-coast are either changing over to winter tires, or trying to decide whether winter tires are right for them.

To help with this annual decision, Canada's tire makers are giving consumers the facts with a winter tire and driving brochure available free from participating tire retailers and online at the industry's tire education website betiresmart.ca.

In recent years, more and more drivers have chosen to invest in winter tires, and with good reason. Recent advances in winter tire technology offer motorists significant advantages, not just on snow or ice, but on cold dry road surfaces as well.

Rubber stiffens as temperatures get colder, reducing traction capability. Modern winter tire rubber compounds, however, keep their elasticity even at temperatures as cold as minus 30 degrees Celsius and lower. The result is superior traction and performance in all road conditions during winter compared to all-season or conventional summer tires.

"The idea that winter tires are only for snow or ice covered roads is old-fashioned thinking," says Glenn Maidment, President of the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC), which represents Canada's tire makers. "Drivers should think of winter tires as 'cold weather' tires that offer superior traction, braking and cornering in every winter driving condition, including dry surfaces. The surface grip advantage offered by winter tires becomes evident when temperatures fall below seven degrees Celsius. When you can see your breath, its time for winter tires."

Since the late 1970s, all-season tires have been a popular choice for Canadian drivers. Even though all-season tires can provide safe all-weather performance, drivers need to know that winter tires are more efficient once the temperature starts to fall. Winter tires offer up to 50 per cent more winter traction than all-seasons.

Canada's tire makers also advise motorists to use winter tires on all wheel positions. Using winter tires on the front or rear axle positions only can create a serious traction imbalance that can lead to a loss of control, particularly when cornering.

When shopping for winter tires, motorists should look for the "three peak mountain snowflake" on the sidewall. Only tires stamped with this distinctive symbol meet or exceed specific snow traction requirements established by the tire industry.

Another key to safe winter driving is proper tire inflation, which is more challenging to maintain in winter. Every five degree Celsius decrease in temperature results in a loss of about one psi in air pressure. A temperature drop of 15 degrees Celsius, for example, which can happen frequently in winter, typically results in 10 per cent under-inflation.

Tire under-inflation is a serious threat to vehicle safety. Under-inflated tires have a smaller footprint, which weakens their grip. The result is diminished braking and handling capabilities, not to mention significantly higher fuel bills due to increased rolling resistance.

Drivers should use a tire gauge to measure their air pressures monthly to ensure their tires are always inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation. Visual checks are not an accurate way to measure inflation.

Winter tire consumers should also remember that excessive tread wear can diminish traction. Tread depth should always be checked at the start of the winter driving season. Drivers who are unsure if their tires are overly worn should consult a tire professional.

Drivers can learn more about selecting and maintaining winter tires by visiting betiresmart.ca.

"Canada's tire makers offer a wide variety of excellent winter tires," says Maidment. "Drivers should consult with their local tire retailer to find the winter tire that is best suited to their driving habits and conditions. Motorists should also visit their tire retailer to get a copy of our brochure and learn more about how advances in winter tire technology have made the winter driving environment a safer place to be."

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Sidebar:

Winter Tire Buyer's Check List

Whether you live in the city or country, or whether you drive a big or small vehicle, winter driving conditions will impact your vehicle's performance.

When deciding whether to install winter tires, ask yourself the following questions:

? Do I live where cold temperatures are common?

? Do I drive on icy or snowy roads?

? Do I have to use your vehicle everyday, regardless of the weather?

? Do I drive off main streets and roads in winter?

? Do I drive early in the morning or late at night in winter?

? Do I drive nearly the same speed regardless of the temperature?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, winter tires may be right for you.

Talk to your tire dealer about your driving habits and what kind of conditions you drive in and what kind of winter tires are best suited for you.

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IN: AUTOMOTIVE, ENVIRONMENT

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