Winter Tire Debate


There are two things I really get bent out of shape about, improperly installed car seats and people who refuse to even consider winter tires.  Since winter is just around the corner, let’s focus on the latter.

Every year during this time, I have countless conversations with customers over the importance of winter tires.  While perceptions are slowly changing, resistance still seems inherent to some.  My main argument has always been centered around the stopping distance advantage that a car equipped with winter tires has over a vehicle with all season tires. How many close calls did you have last winter?   Assume for a second that you could stop your car 20-30 ft sooner than the car in front of you.  What’s that worth to you?  The Ministry of Transportation in Quebec supports justification of their mandatory snow tire law stating that the use of winter tires shortens stopping distance by 25% and reduces fender-benders by 38%.

The fact is that below 7ºC all season tires start to show the first signs of loss of traction, at -5ºC they are essentially useless.   Enter the winter tire, engineered to start functioning at these lower temps.  These tires are made from special compounds designed to grip the road in the snow, the freezing rain and even those sunny yet bitterly cold dry pavement days.

There are countless other arguments that can be made coaxing you into a set of winter tires including various highly technical articles (here are a couple of my simpler favorite pitches).

Most drivers have an insurance deductible that is $500 or greater.  Lets assume for a second that the car you are following one fine winters day is equipped with a full set of winter tires, suddenly that car needs to perform a “Hello… what are they thinking” panic stop.  It has a 20-30 ft stopping advantage, you don’t.  Uh-oh, guess who just rear ended that brand new BMW.   Your insurance company is going to love you.   The cost of your  insurance deductible would have  paid for your tires and as an added bonus you’re going to have to pay larger premiums over the next few years.  As a side note, most insurance companies now offer a discount when you are have a set of winter tires installed.

Argument #2 is regarding longevity, you are switching between two sets of tires giving  the other set a break 6 months of the year, translating into half the wear and doubling their life span.

Yes, unfortunately there is an up front cost, but it’s justifiable.   Most people have the thought process that when they buy a set of winter tires that they are spending for a luxury item which simply isn’t the case.  I have sold countless sets of winter tires based on my sales pitch… I have yet had a single person come back and tell me that they feel their hard earned cash was wasted on winter tires.

There are so many things in life that I can’t control.  What I can control I will.  My family will never be without a car sporting winter tires, even if it were only one time per winter.