Winter Tire Testing Proves Vancouver Road Conditions Call For More Than All Seasons This Year
Sometimes we talk food, sometimes, wine and sometimes cars and driving. Since we opted out of owning a car, we’ve had the opportunity to drive all sorts of different models and compare everything from seat comfort to the effectiveness of anti-locking braking systems and fancy headlights. We’ve become acutely aware of tires and have driven on a number of different tire types, from summer passenger to all seasons and winter. One official road test we’ve done involved side by side comparisons of summer and winter tires, in summer driving conditions (see Driving Tips with Carl Nadeau, Michelin), and it was obvious the winter tires must come off for summer or performance and safety suffers vastly. This time we tested out 3 seasons and winter tires, both new and worn.
Kal Tire invited me out to take the driver’s seat to experience first-hand the differences in the performance of new versus worn winter tires and a new versus worn three-season tires on a driving course in Pitt Meadows with winter-like road conditions. To prepare for the drive event, dry ice was placed on the road to lower the road’s surface temperature and then shaved ice was placed on top of the cold surface to replicate the same type of snowy conditions that a driver would encounter when braking or cornering on a snowy road surface. We also drove on a track that that was not snow covered, but was cold and wet due to rain.
As you can imagine when driving with the worn tires, both winter and three seasons, there was far more slipping on corners, and even skidding (yikes) and when the brakes were slammed fully on the snow, the car slide far further than with the new tires.
The surprising thing for me, though, was the new three season vs the new winter tires. With the colder roads, even the snow free parts, the three seasons lacked the grip that the winter tire exhibited and when the tires hit the snow, the winter tires stopped many feet ahead of the three seasons, sliding far less horizontally as well, even when both were brand new.
In the past I’d relied on the all seasons to get me through, well, all seasons. I wasn’t into spending a lot of money on things as boring as tires, and thought that it really didn’t make a ton of difference, but really, I was so very wrong. With Vancouver’s weather in January remaining both cold and snowy, and the forecast continuing on for a few months, I’m encouraging you to check your tires and re-think them, if they are all season, as it could mean a literal difference between life and death.
We recently drove up to Sun Peaks and on the way home a huge truck came towards us far over the line on our side of the road. The car, the Acura MDX, had a new set of solid winter tires on, and those, combined with the superior handling of the vehicle, kept us on the road, although I wasn’t entirely sure there for a minute.
If you haven’t got them yet, get them winter tires now, or please stay off the roads, even just around Vancouver. There’s a long road ahead of us this season.
*Post sponsored by Kal Tire, but, as always, all opinions are my own.