Rubber Association of Canada

Rubber Association of Canada

November 24, 2009 09:42 ET

Winter tires: it's how we roll in Quebec

Attention: Assignment Editor, Automotive Editor, Environment Editor, Transportation Editor TORONTO, NOVEMBER 24, 2009--(Marketwire - Nov. 24, 2009) - Winter is nearly here, and, across Quebec, motorists are either changing over to their winter tires, or out shopping for new ones.

To help Quebecers maintain and select their winter tires, tire makers are giving consumers the facts with a winter tire and driving brochure available free from participating tire retailers and online at the tire industry's consumer education website betiresmart.ca.

When shopping for winter tires, motorists are advised to 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.

Recent advances in winter tire technology offer motorists significantly greater control, not just on snow or ice, but on cold dry road surfaces as well.

Here's why: 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.

"Drivers need to know that winter tires offer superior traction, braking and cornering in every road condition once the temperature falls below seven degrees Celsius," says Glenn Maidment, President of the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC), which represents Canada's tire makers. "When Quebecers can see their breath, it's time to make the annual change-over to winter tires."

Tire makers also remind 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.

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.

Quebec motorists should also remember that excessive tread wear can diminish the traction offered by their winter tires. 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 maintaining and selecting 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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IN: AUTOMOTIVE, ENVIRONMENT

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