April 24, 2024


Winter has arrived in full force, and according to the Weather Network, “Canadians are in for a more ‘typical’ winter this year.”

With last winter’s lack of snow, people may have been given a false sense of security when it comes to preparing their cars for this winter season. But, with a handful of heavy snowfalls over the past couple of weeks, the all-season versus winter tire debate has been revived.

According to a February 2012 study by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, entitled Winter Tires: A Review of Research on Effectiveness and Use, “in a braking test (from 50 km/h to a full stop), the car with winter tires took 18 metres to stop whereas the car with all-season tires took 27.1 metres.”

Studies similar to this one also show the efficiency of winter tires. But buying a new set of winter tires can be costly.

So is it possible – and safe – to keep those all-seasons on throughout the winter months?

“If people can’t afford winter tires, all-season tires will be OK as long as they are careful in winter conditions and take their time,” said mechanic, Martin Boissonneault.

“Even with winter tires, it doesn’t mean you won’t slip and slide everywhere,” he added.

The difference between all-season tires and winter tires is the compound makeup of the tire. According to mechanic Shawn Bilyea of Cambridge, because winter tires stay softer in colder temperatures, they have a better grip than all-seasons.

For this reason, Quebec, along with several European countries, have made winter tires mandatory.

The benefits of winter tires are undeniable: a better grip in slippery conditions, a discount from some insurance companies for drivers who switch to winter tires annually, and longer lasting tires for those who use both sets of tires throughout the year.

But if you can’t afford winter tires, Bilyea believes people should just drive with caution.

“Winter tires are important,” said Bilyea. “But if you can’t afford them, drive to the (road) conditions.”

“It also depends where you live,” he added. “If you live out in the country, snow tires would be a better option, but all-season tires are adequate for city roads.”