Most new cars sold in Ontario come with “all season” tires, often marked “M+S” for “mud and snow”. These tires are designed to provide safe, all-weather protection, but are not suitable for snow-covered roads or extreme cold. Once the temperature drops below –10º C, all season tires lose their grip as the tires harden.
This is not very desirable and may account for the rising number of unexpected “loss of control” accidents in cold weather.
Years ago, snow tires were knobby and noisy. They were great for driving in the snow, but performed poorly when exposed to dry and wet road conditions. This is no longer true. Today’s snow tires are made with rubber compounds that not only handle ice, snow and cold temperatures, but also dry, wet or slushy driving conditions. New snow tires are marked with the pictograph of a peaked mountain
with a snowflake to show they meet specific snow traction performance requirements to help you control your vehicle safely in snowy conditions.
Should you switch?
If your winter driving is limited to regions with little snow and moderate winter temperatures, all season tires may be suitable for you. For the rest of us, the traction and security offered by snow tires, makes them the best choice. A good way to rationalize the expense of winter tires – about $500 a set – is to remember that the cost is equal to the deductible on many auto insurance policies, which means you’ll pay that much anyway if you end up in a crash. As a bonus, by switching to winter tires, you’ll extend the life of your regular “all season” tires.