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For Canadian Members Especially: Winter Tires?

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:03 am
by GregPQ
According to a link on La Presse, winter tires appear to be obligatory in Quebec. Is this the case in other provinces as well?

I've lived in Massachusetts since 1970, and I had snow tires for the rear wheels in those pre-radial, rear-wheel-drive days (they were a pain to store in my apartment!). I don't think anyone around here bothers with snow tires nowadays in our FWD, radial tire environment, although I may be wrong. Maybe a poll is in order?

So nowadays--if you use snow tires--do you mount them on all four wheels, assuming one has a FWH vehicle?

And does the snow tire requirement mitigate the need for 4X4?

A curious Southerner,

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:19 am
by jww
As I recall only Quebec requires winter tyres by law. I have been driving with 4 snow tyres on our cars for the past decade, and believe me it has been well worth it. I can't tell you how many times I have been saved from a fender bender or jumping a curb because of the added traction (and habitual slower driving). Then came along cars equipped with ABS, ESC and all-wheel-drive. My 09 Santa Fe and snows are incredible in the winter weather here in Ottawa. I wouldn't be without them between November and April 1.

I keep my winter tyres mounted on steel rims so it's a simple swap in and out of the winter or all-season rims. My local Hyundai dealer has always done that service for free for me. Some car or tyre dealers also offer free storage which can be handy if you don't have a place to store them.

Here's what I know about the science behind winter tyres. They incorporate a softer rubber that is more compliant, therefore is grippier in the colder weather. All-season tyres are of a harder material that will go stiffer, ergo, more slipping and less control because the tyre is less compliant.

There are also different veins of winter tyres -- snow tyres, ice tyres, etc. I currently run with a Campion hybrid snow/ice tyre and it's not bad. It's not Michelins or Bridgestones - who some will argue make the best winter tyres, although I am not 100% convinced of that myself. Cooper Tyres are actually the best tyres I have ever owned for both all-season and winter.

One thing about winter tyres -- you need to keep them off of the car when the weather is warm enough to heat up the road surface to around 15C or so. Because of the softer rubber, they will wear down much more quickly than all-seasons if you keep them on. I swap out in early November and back again by April 5th or so. They are much louder on the road, but they make the world of difference in driving dynamics in winter weather.

Back to the Quebec point, my understanding is that they have reduced the number of fender-benders in winter as a result of this legislation. I would like to see winter tyres on rental cars as a law in wintry cities. Last week I was in Regina and Edmonton - and winter tyres on my rentals would sure have been nice - especially with the snowfall they had in Edmonton when I arrived on Wednesday.

Hope this helps.

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:20 am
by Nitrox
I think winter tires are only mandatory in Quebec. Whatever you do, don't mount only two winter tires on the drive wheels. Get all four put on or nothing, as you will get no benefit with only two. Like Wendell said, the best thing is to mount them on cheap steel wheels which are easy to swap when the seasons change.

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 2:02 pm
by Rufus
Wendell has successfully encapsulated the intricacies of the case for using winter tyres. Like him, we have winter tyres on our cars; it just seems to make sense regardless of whether they're obligatory or not; they are only obligatory in Quebec as far as I know. One thing you should be aware of is that having 4x4 wheel drive does not obviate the need for winter tyres; 4x4's will slide on ice and slush just as well as 2x2's. Moreover, you must/must mount winter tyres on all 4 wheels regardless of whether the vehicle is front-wheel, rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. BTW, they are no longer referred to as snow tyres in technical terms because winter tyres do so much more than improve traction in snow.

Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:43 am
by brothers
A few years back we had a winter snow, not too unexpected where we live, but at that time I had places I needed to be, and the rear drive Chevy pickup I had wouldn't even make it up a low hill. A couple of months later I bought a new 4WD Ford F150 and a full set of studded snow tires for it. For the next 4 years I'd faithfully mount the snow tires on Thanksgiving and remove them in March. We had a couple of ice storms and trace snows, but nothing to inspire Christmas songs. But I was ready!

Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:52 am
by GregPQ
Personally, I subscribe to the theory that a FWD vehicle with decent M+S (i.e., 'Mud and Snow' or 'All Season') tires is all you need for driving on plowed streets. But New England is not Quebec.

It also helps to know how to drive in adverse conditions, i.e. slow down and don't play with your smartphone.

I do worry about the idiots I have to share the road with!


Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:08 pm
by brothers
Before we got the Avalon, I had a Cadillac STS. That vehicle was magic on ice and snow, because of the suspension. It had a four wheel system I think they called it traction control, but it performed flawlessly while other vehicles were spinning 360s and heading for the ditches in the rear view mirror. My son and I had to make some deliveries to some families in different parts of our city on a certain day, and it happened that there was an ongoing pretty significant snowstorm that day. We had no problems, all I had to do was keep a light foot on both the brake and the gas, and pay attention to what I was doing. I was impressed.

Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:48 pm
by ShadowsDad
We have 4 snow tires on both of our vehicles. As Wendell does, mounted on their own steel rims and I change them before the first snow flies, then back again when I think most of our winter weather is behind us.

The older studded tires are the same rubber as a summer tire. They get stiff when it gets cold, hence the need for studs to allow them to grip. The newer ones are pliable even in the cold so studs aren't required for them. For the best single purpose winter tire look for the tiny mountain with a snowflake over it. It's molded into the sidewall. I've never missed using the new winter tires w/o the studs; just superb.

The plow truck has Bridgestone Blizzaks and they work fine. The Prius has Dunlop Graspic and I think that car could climb a tree with those tires installed... as long as the tree was ice covered.

Oh, Maine law mandates that if winter tires are installed it must be 4 tires.

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:04 am
by jww
For the record, I am pretty sure that studded tyres are allowed under specific provincial restrictions within Canada -- for example, on in Ontario, north of Parry Sound and Nippissing, in other provinces their use is restricted, I believe, only by date. The winter tyre laws in BC are similar to Quebec -- as they are required in certain regions of that province. I love the fact that for Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, there is "no requirement" for snow tyres, nor are they banned. I was in Iqaluit for business some years ago at the end of March, and saw that many people were going around on snowmobiles. :wink:

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:14 am
by rustyblade
I'm all ready for winter with snow tires, 4x4, and a new snowblower/tractor. Problem is, we don't have any snow. Yet.

As for snow tires and rims, I ordered from in the US. Even with shipping/duty/etc., it STILL works out cheaper than buying up here. I bought myself a set ready-mounted on aluminum rims, look better and paid about the same (as I would up here) as I would have for cheap steelies.

All in, I paid $1500cdn for 245-75-16 Blizzak DM-V1 mounted/balanced on aluminum rims.

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:06 pm
by jww
Nice deal, Richard --- was that including customs, duty and HST?

Nice avatar btw. 8)

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:02 pm
by rustyblade
jww wrote:Nice deal, Richard --- was that including customs, duty and HST?

Nice avatar btw. 8)
That's the price including duty and everything.

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:28 pm
by jww
rustyblade wrote:
jww wrote:Nice deal, Richard --- was that including customs, duty and HST?

Nice avatar btw. 8)
That's the price including duty and everything.