Most people really don't understand the difference between all-season tires and winter ones. With the cold and snow that we get here in Calgary, it's worth your while to find out more about the difference between the two and whether you should really take the time, energy and money to invest in a good pair of winter tires.
Taking a look at all-season tires
This type of tire was first introduced by Goodyear in 1977. It eliminated the hassle of having to switch between summer tires and winter tires with every change of season. It was a tire that could be installed and left on until the tires wore out and could be worn in any type of weather condition. It didn't take long before other tire companies followed the same model and started producing their own lines of all-season tires.
Today, all-seasons are automatically installed on almost all new vehicles. Most people just keep them on and don't switch over to winter tires when the snow arrives. This brings on the question of whether you should be making the switch or whether you are just as safe driving with all-season tires as you are with winter ones.
What's the temperature drops lower than 7°C, an all-season tire will begin to lose its elasticity. As a result, the tire will get much less traction, braking capacity and handling ability. Winter tires keep their elasticity at temperatures below 7°C. As well, many newer vehicles come with certain features for safety like traction control, stability control etc. and these features can only work properly if the vehicle has tires that provide the proper adherence.
Are winter tires that much safer than all-season tires?
In order to answer this question we took a look at a test done by Popular Mechanics that actually tested out both types of tires. The test was conducted in Baudette, Minnesota using one all-wheel drive and one front wheel drive vehicle. After testing the tires in both snow and icy conditions the results were conclusive. The winter tires performed better, by 5% during braking and 20% when turning corners.
Québec's winter tire law
In the province of Québec it is illegal to drive a passenger vehicle that isn't equipped with snow tires from December 15 to March 15. If you're caught driving with all-season tires you'll be fine between $200 and $300. The law was put into effect to improve safety on the roads and reduce the number of collisions within the province.
Are you driving with all-season tires or winter tires? Here in Alberta you still have the choice as of now. In fact, Québec is the only province in Canada that has put a snow tire law into effect and it will definitely be interesting to see the overall outcome of it.