SNOW TIRES 2016: BY RICK WALKER
If you're considering "Snow Tires" for your vehicle now is the time to get it done.
With environment Canada calling for the season's first snow storms this weekend in many parts of Canada and the Mid Western United States motorists will be flocking to tire dealers seeking deals and traction.
Many wonder if snow tires are really worth the money and today there is little question that they most certainly are. All season tires do offer good performance under a variety of condition even in snow, but modern snow tire designs and technology now offer so much additional traction in snow and on ice that it makes a lot of sense to have a set installed during the winter months. Studies have show modern snow tires can cut as much as 10 metres off the stopping distance for a car at 50 kmh, on snow covered roads.
Years ago snow tires were considered sloppy, and offered reduced handling abilities on dry or wet pavement. Today however new technology and new designs have enhanced performance on all road conditions for snow tires, and motorists make almost no sacrifices in terms of performance. In addition modern snow tire designs are much quieter than old school snow tires. The end result is a much safer and more comfortable ride.
Stopping is not the only consideration. Handling, cornering, is also enhanced with modern snow tires. It isn't just snow that that winter tires tackle either. Even more importantly modern winter tires offer superior traction and performance on ice, and the work well with anti-lock braking systems, and ensure that you get the best performance from traction control systems on modern vehicles.
The secret to snow tire performance is in the tire's tread design, and in the type of rubber that is used. Snow tires use softer rubber. Modern tire compounds are created to stick to ice, bite into snow. If you look closely at a snow tire you will notice there are main treads areas just as you will see on an all season or summer tire, but there are also very small secondary treads cut into raised portions of the tread pattern. It's those smaller tread cuts that spread open against the ice and snow and then when the weight of the vehicle is applied as the tire rotates the tire grips, in much the same way your hand spreads open and then grips.
Snow tires can also save you money. Insurance companies usually offer a discount of between 5% and 10% if you install a set of snow tires on your vehicle during the winter months. Usually they require that snow tires are installed in November and that they remain on the vehicle until the snow clears around the end of March or April. You should check the specifics of your insurance policy to determine the restrictions and requirements specific to your circumstances.
Some provinces including Quebec now make the installation of Snow Tires mandatory during winter months. Those laws coupled with increasing demand for modern winter tires nation wide, have resulted in snow tire shortages over the last few winters. Many motorists who waited until the snow hit last year, found they were not able to get the sizes in the brands of snow tires they wanted, and many had to search extensively just find a set of winter tires.
Snow tires should usually be used only during winter months. The rubber compounds are softer and are not really designed for use on hot pavement. Use during summer months will result in premature wear and you will not get the desired life out of a set of winter tires.
Many tire dealers or service centers offer seasonal tire storage. If you live in an apartment or have limited storage space that could be the answer for you if you you want to switch each season from summer to winter tires.
It can also be a money saver in the long run to have your winter tires mounted to a set of separate winter rims. This means that each season your tires can simply be bolted on with no need to remount and balance your tires. Every time tires are installed on rims there is a cost associated with installation.
Experts say you should expect to pay anywhere from $110, to $200 per tire for top quality winter tires. Prices will vary depending on your wheel size, brand, and any offers or specials. Look for rebates or sales, as this can often save you a substantial amount of money.
13 MILL STREET WEST