Rubber Association of Canada

Rubber Association of Canada

November 09, 2010 10:07 ET

This Winter Get a Grip

Tire Makers Recommend Winter Tires for Drivers Wanting the Safest Winter Driving Experience.

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 9, 2010) - Canada's roadways are about to get hit hard by old man winter, and motorists across the Great White North are either changing over to winter tires or trying to decide if winter tires are right for them.

To help drivers make the right winter tire decisions, the tire industry has established a website – betiresmart.ca – that offers a range of information about the performance benefits of winter tires and how to select and maintain them.

Tire makers want Canadian drivers to know that today's winter tires offer motorists significant traction and handling advantages in all cold weather driving compared to all-season or conventional summer tires.

The latest generation of winter tires delivers better grip in all cold weather driving conditions because their rubber compounds are designed to maintain their elasticity at temperatures as cold as minus 30 degrees Celsius and lower. This superior flexibility, which kicks in when temperatures fall below seven degrees Celsius, means drivers gain greater traction and control, particularly when cornering or braking.

"Advances in winter technology are causing more drivers to make the switch to winter tires with each passing year, and this is good news from a safety perspective because winter tires definitely enhance driver control", says Glenn Maidment, President of the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC). "The question motorists should be asking today is whether winter tires are right for them and, if so, which winter tire is best suited to their specific driving patterns. Consumers can get the answers they need about winter tires by visiting betiresmart.ca or by talking to a tire professional."

All-season tires can provide safe all-weather performance, but drivers need to know that winter tires deliver up to 50 per cent more winter traction.

Motorists are also advised to use winter tires in all wheel positions. Installing winter tires on only the front or rear axle positions can create a serious traction imbalance that can result in loss of control, particularly when cornering or braking or making an avoidance manoeuvre.

When shopping for winter tires, consumers should be mindful of the universal symbol of a true winter tire, the "three peak mountain snowflake", which is stamped on the sidewall. Tires with this distinctive symbol meet or exceed snow traction performance established by the tire industry. Another winter tire shopping tip is to have your tires installed earlier rather than later at your local tire retailer to avoid long line-ups.

Another winter driving safety essential is proper tire inflation, which is harder to maintain in winter because of greater temperature fluctuations. Every five degree 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.

Under-inflated tires have a smaller footprint, which weakens their grip. The result is diminished braking and handling characteristics, along with higher fuel bills due to increased rolling resistance.

Tire makers recommend that motorists measure and, if necessary, adjust their tire pressures to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation once a month using a reliable tire gauge. Visual inspections are no substitute for a proper gauge. Tires can be under-inflated by as much as 25 per cent and appear visually to be properly inflated.

Winter tire owners should also be aware that excessive tread wear can diminish traction. Tread depth should always be inspected at the start of the winter driving season. A visit to tire retailer will tell drivers if their tires are overly worn.

Learn more about selecting and maintaining winter tires. Visit betiresmart.ca.

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 every day, 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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