Winter driving can be challenging for even the most experienced drivers. Poor visibility and the presence of snow, slush and ice are additional hazards we normally don’t have to deal with. Having the correct tires can make driving in winter conditions easier.
Identifying winter tires
Both the all-season Mud and Snow (M+S) tires and the mountain/snowflake tires meet the requirements for winter tire designation in B.C. To be considered a winter tire, a M+S or a mountain/snowflake tire must also have at least 3.5mm of tread depth. Tell your local tire retailer what kind of road and weather conditions you drive in, so you get tires that are best suited for your needs.
All-season M+S (Mud and Snow) tires
M+S tires are a safe option if you only encounter winter conditions on a limited basis and are prepared to drive with added care and caution if winter conditions are encountered.
If you live or travel in an area where you would normally and regularly expect snow, ice and slush, we recommend using four matched winter tires that carry the mountain/snowflake symbol. Mountain/snowflake tires offer a higher level of traction in harsh winter conditions, and receive their special designation for adhering to a performance-based standard (developed by the U.S. Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Rubber Association of Canada). They are the best winter tires available.
When you need winter tires
Most of us only encounter winter conditions such as ice, slush, or hard-packed snow on a limited basis. With this in mind, good quality all-season M+S tires may be fine for you. However, if you live in an area that regularly receives snow, go skiing often or enjoy other winter sports, your vehicle should be outfitted with four mountain/snowflake winter tires.
Routes requiring winter tires
Certain highways in B.C. require cars and light trucks to use winter tires from October 1 to March 31. Signs are posted on these designated highways to advise drivers where and when winter tires are required. Vehicles not equipped with winter tires are prohibited from travelling past the signs. These routes are on the
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure website.
Winter tires and insurance
Driving without winter tires won’t mean you’re automatically at-fault in a crash. However, if you get in a crash where winter tires could have helped, not having them may affect whether, or how much, you are at-fault.
Keep your tires in top condition
As tire tread wears away, the traction, cornering and braking are less reliable. Most tires have tread wear indicator bars moulded into the tread face. It’s time to replace your tires when the tread wear indicators in any two adjacent grooves of the tread are contacting the road.
Always use four matched tires
Regardless of season, ensure you maintain the same type of tires (i.e. summer, winter or all-season tires) on all four wheels — particularly for all-wheel drive, fourwheel drive and SUVs. Because acceleration, braking and cornering require a coordinated effort from all four tires, substituting tires that differ in design, construction or their intended use can upset this balance.
If you need more information, check with your local tire retailer, your vehicle owner’s manual or with the vehicle manufacturer.
Keeping your tires properly inflated is the single most important part of tire care. That’s why we recommend you regularly monitor the air pressure in your tires. A tire that is improperly inflated is prone to irregular wear, poor handling, traction loss and reduced tread life.
The maximum inflation pressure can be found on the side of your tire. This is not necessarily the correct inflation level for your tires; always refer to the inflation level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This can usually be found in your owner’s manual, posted on the edge of the driver’s door or inside the glove box door.
Only check your tire pressure when the tires are cold. You should also take into account the temperature outdoors, as this directly affects tire pressure. Pressure drops in colder conditions.
Storing winter or spare tires
Properly storing your winter tires will ensure they last longer and are ready to go for the next season. Winter tires should be placed in a cool, dark, and dry indoor location. Store them away from electric motors, since the ozone produced by electric motors can damage the tire rubber.
If you are going to store tires while they are still mounted on wheels, the tire pressure should be reduced to 15 pounds per square inch and re-inflated when you mount them on your vehicle.