Why Winter Tires Are a Must For Vancouver Island
One question that many vehicle owners have (especially in Victoria, BC) is do I actually need winter tires on my vehicle? Here are all of the reasons why a good set of winter tires is vital for anyone living on Vancouver Island.
Why Are My Tires So Important?
Whether you have winter or all-season, tires act as the contact point between your vehicle and the road you are driving on.
Road Safety - The most important function of your tires is of course safety. As you drive your vehicle, your tires will begin to wear out and become less effective over time. The replacement period will depend on the brand of tires, how much you drive and how hard you drive the vehicle. High-speed cornering and excessive braking can wear down tires early. Well-maintained tires allow grip to the road, safe turns and stops in shorter distances when needed. Worn tires don’t perform nearly as well and leaves you in with an unsafe vehicle. Because tires are usually changed every 4-5 years, most drivers view replacement tires as a small price to pay for your personal well-being.
Fuel Efficiency - Have you noticed a higher than average monthly fuel bill on your vehicle? Surprisingly, it probably has something to do with your tires. Worn out, unbalanced, over or under-inflated, or improperly aligned tires will directly lead to an increase in fuel cost for your vehicle.
Performance - When you have a good set of tires that are balanced, aligned and inflated properly there is a distinctly smooth and solid feeling you can feel while driving. The quality of the car's performance is noticeably worse when tires are bald, worn out or damaged. The tires on your vehicle aid in its suspension meaning that driving will become uncomfortable, bumpy and more erratic as they wear down.
Now that you know the importance of staying up to date on your tire replacements, let's see why winter tires are an absolute must for the majority of Vancouver Island drivers.
Why Do I Need Winter Tires?
Let's talk weather
Vancouver Island and British Columbia are well known for their temperate climate. With Victoria claiming the mildest climate in Canada, average winter temperatures can go as low as 3°C in December.
If we don't get below freezing temperatures, why do I need winter tires?
The Science of 7 ℃
Winter tires are most effective as the temperature drops below 7 ℃. This is due to a few specific design choices behind winter tires including:
- Tire Compound - Winter tires are made using a soft natural rubber in the tread compound, which helps winter tires stay flexible and provide a safer grip in temperatures below 7 ℃. A combination in the tire compound helps increase grip in snowy or icy conditions.
- Tread Design - The tread design on winter tires features aggressive treads, which dig into ice, snow and slush. Wider grooves between tread blocks push our snow and slush to prevent slush-planing.
Some of the most visited winter destinations require a little drive and some capability!
Located on our very own Vancouver Island, Mount Washington Ski Resort sees lows of 0°C and high of 5°C, and the Comox area sees an average of 21cm of snowfall around December. Though it may not seem like much compared to other parts of Canada, it will still affect how your vehicle performs when it comes to traction and control.
Other popular well-visited winter destinations require you to leave the island. Whistler, Banff and Jasper National Parks are winter wonderlands straight out of a fairytale!
Take a look at some of the other beautiful destinations in Canada! 11 Beautiful Places to Visit During Winter in Canada
It's Required by Law. - Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in British Columbia (now required on the Malahat) from October 1 to April 30. For select highways not located through mountain passes and/or high snowfall areas, tire and chain requirements end March 31.
Winter tires greatly reduce stopping distance in wintery road conditions. This is definitely one of those times where it's better to be safe rather than sorry. Winter tires can significantly reduce the stopping distance during winter driving conditions, with extreme road conditions like black ice, the tires you choose to put on your vehicle can protect your vehicle and more importantly yourself from unforeseen accidents and injury.
The Myth Behind AWD and 4WD Vehicles
Many drivers believe that since they have an AWD SUV or 4WD truck winter tires are not necessary. While 4WD, AWD, traction control and ABS control power from your transmission to your wheels, those systems can’t help you stop if you’re driving on all-season tires that have gone stiff and slippery in bad road conditions.
The tires' treads and rubber compound that make contact with the road, determine how well you can stop in winter driving conditions. AWD/4WD can improve acceleration in winter conditions but does not help a vehicle steer properly or stop sooner.