Do Winter Tires Make a Difference? As we head into the winter season, some drivers question if winter tires really worth the investment and hassle? Seventy-eight percent of Canadians believe winter tires make a difference, however only fity three percent actually use them. Why is this the case? Winter road conditions can be treacherous across British Columbia. The Provincial highways often have high mountain passes which can be dangerous at the best of times, without a layer of ice and snow. It’s a general perception that winter tires are only necessary in the northern parts of the Province and drivers don’t need them in cities like Victoria. However, this perception is wrong and something the industry has tried hard to correct through education. What a lot of drivers don’t realize is that winter tires help grip the road which is especially helpful if the temperature hovers around 7 degrees or dips below. Winter tires help shorten braking distances and provide better overall handling performance whether the road is dry, icy, slushy or covered in snow. Winter tires use a special rubber compound that stay pliable at low temperatures and feature tread designs better at clearing, ice, snow and slush. All-season tires, on the other hand, offer decent grip in most conditions – hence their name – including rain, but are better optimized to deliver long tire life and good fuel economy. They aren’t meant for colder conditions. The other downside of low tread wear is all-seasons’ harder rubber compound, which loses pliability as temperatures drop which prevents the tire from gripping the road properly. A winter tires has at least a 3.5 mm tread depth. It will also have a marking along the side of a three-peaked mountain with a snowflake inside of it, (sometimes called mountain/snowflake) denoting it as a winter tire. This is a designation from the Rubber Association of Canada indicating the tire meets the specified snow traction performance requirements. We recommend putting winter tires on between October 1 and March 31 as it’s mandated in some areas of the province. If I doubt, there will be posted signs indicating whether you can drive beyond a point without the proper tires – and sometimes chains are mandatory. Some highways on Vancouver Island do not require winter tires. Driving on the Malahat requires M+S tires. However, if you're travelling on the Sea-To Sky, the Interior, or the Coquihalla then you’ll need winter tires. Police are doing spot checks and if caught you’re in for a hefty fine. Check the Transportation Canada website for updated information. If you get in an accident this season, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at Prancing Horse Autobody. We serve all of Victoria and the Saanish Peninsula, offering the best collision repair.