do you need winter tires?

Discussion in 'Automotive' started by go*canucks*go!, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. go*canucks*go!

    go*canucks*go! Active Member

    Do you need winter tires?

    “Tis the season to be jolly”, or so claims the famous Christmas song we know and enjoy at this time of year. But does this hold true when it comes to driving our vehicles as temperatures drop, snow starts to fall and winter shovels replace garden rakes at the side of the shed?

    With each change of season comes the need to adjust our driving habits and the equipment found on our vehicles. Although all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles offer greater traction and all-weather drivability in general, they can be just as hazardous as any other vehicle when equipped with all-season or "M + S" tires in the winter.

    All-season tires are designed to perform best when the temperature exceeds 7°C. Below this, they become hard and begin to lose grip. Winter tires are specifically designed to remain flexible in cold weather. Plus, their deeper tread pattern acts as a shovel to clear away snow and water from the tire as it rotates. With more rubber exposed to the road surface, traction improves dramatically when compared to all-season tires.

    The hard part is, however, investing in winter tires can be very expensive. In fact, a full set of four “snow” tires (it is never recommended to use only 2 winter tires even on a front-wheel drive vehicle), will easily cost upwards of $600.00, plus fees for mounting and a set of seasonal steel rims. Should you spend the extra money? In general, yes.

    Let’s say, for example, you drive back and forth from suburban areas to the city each day for work/school, plus spend time running a few errands and meeting friends. If this is your typical winter day of driving, snow tires are definitely worth the investment.

    On the other hand, should you live in a major city with easy access to mass transit once the snow starts to fly, the added expense of winter tires may not be worth the investment. Traction will certainly improve on your vehicle, but your money may be better spent taking the bus or subway and letting someone else do the winter driving instead of you.

    To better test the theory of winter tires, we contacted Continental Tires of Canada this past winter and asked them to supply two different sets of winter tires for long term evaluation. The late model test mules used in our evaluation represented everyday vehicles, typical of what many Canadians drive.

    The first was a set of 215/55R16 Altimax Arctic tires from General Tire. Designed to aid in cold weather driving, key features and benefits included the following:

    - Multi-Angle Sipe System
    - Directional Pattern with Center Stability Rib
    - Reactive Contour Technology (RCT)
    - All-Weather Dual Tread Compound

    - 270 degrees of sipes with biting edges that enhance traction in any direction of travel.
    - Water evacuation is amplified and straight-line stability is improved.
    - Contour reacts to different road conditions to maintain optimum contact with road surface throughout the life of the tire.
    - Exceptional cold-weather flexibility and excellent wet traction.
    The second set we tested over the winter of 2010-2011 was the top-of-the-line 195/65R15 ExtremeWinterContact Continental Tires. Designed to look and perform at the highest level, features and benefits included the following:

    - Compact outside tread with elevated lateral grooves
    - Inclined longitudinal grooves
    - Maximum void and grip edges in center contact patch with traction ridges in grooves
    - High sipe density. Highly flexible compound

    - Improved dry handling
    - Swift removal of water
    - Excellent traction and braking on snow
    - Reduced braking distance

    Over the course of a five month period, we drove both sets of tires on city and country roads, in blinding snowstorms and on clear days when it was simply too cold for mere mortal man to enjoy. We also spent time driving when the weather was clear, above freezing and, for the most part, favourable.

    Both sets of tires performed flawlessly, providing superior contact with the road in every case when compared to equally new, all-season tires. This should hold true for any competitive tire of equal value and age to the Continental tires we tested.

    Why? Simply put, winter tires are specifically designed to work best when the weather turns cold and all-season tires are optimized for warm weather driving.

    Winter driving is a fact of life in Canada. That doesn’t mean we always have to enjoy it when the weather outside turns frightful. But, with the right set of winter tires, it may be somewhat less intimidating and potentially a little fun. Spring is still a long ways off. Put on some “snows” and have a safe driving winter.
    ryeguy likes this.
  2. juicybrat

    juicybrat Moderator Staff Member

    do i need them? for the mercedes no since all seasons tires for an SUV has giant tread marks.. but for toyota yes T_T
  3. festealth

    festealth Full Member

    Regardless of models of cars (SUV, trucks, sedans, etc) and brand (Ferrari, Ford, Fiat, etc).... your traction during winter condition will entirely be based on your tires. I've known people who can't drive with a Lexus RX330 during snow, same with people who drive normal Civics too.

    Of course, for normal Vancouver winters, winter tires probably aren't necessary, unless it actually snows or the temperature goes below zero.

    I have winter tires, but then again I drive up the mountains to go skiing about a half-dozen times each year..
  4. armin

    armin Full Member

    only necessary if the temp is below 7 degree celsius cause regular all season tires will get hard and have no traction.
    but since our city doesn't snow that much, if you got a pair of new or still has a ton of tread a/s tires then you should be fine.
    all depends on how you drive.

    and if you heading up the mountains or even driving far east during the winter, HAVE TO have snow tires.

    in 2008 i was driving along fine passing all the x5's stuck on the side cause they couldn't make it up the hill while my little 4banger with snow tires had absolutely no problems.
  5. juicybrat

    juicybrat Moderator Staff Member

    yeah i think the tire brand and model (whatever it is) is pretty good since it does quite well for Vancouver winters.
  6. azianremixx

    azianremixx Full Member

    I got AWD and all season tires on my BMW and I still got into an accident last year. Last year was my first year driving in the snow and it was terrible going down the hill and I didn't know that you had to pump the breaks in order to do a complete stop instead I held my breaks and screamed, " NO, NO, NO, NO!"
  7. for safety I'd say so, speaking from experience, i feel a lot more secure when i drive with snow tires, i find all season are just not good enough and if you go to sfu.. u HAVE to get snow tires unless u want to risk it, which i would recommend you not. I've seen people struggling to just get out of the parking lot with all season tires :S

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