RCMP and members of the Central Okanagan Traffic Services and Integrated Road Safety Unit were on Highway 97C Thursday afternoon

October the ideal time to switch to winter tires

A Senior Zone Manager with Kal Tire explains winter tires are simply the safest and best option in Canadian winters.

As winter approaches, so does the need for winter tires.

While all season tires are quite popular in Canada, particularly BC as year-round driving solutions, Kal Tire Senior Zone Manager Tim Hildebrand said they just aren’t as safe as winter tires.

“Winter tires are the way to go,” he explained.  “The design and tread compounds in winter tires allow them to be flexible in colder climates.  All season tires harden at seven degrees Celsius or lower, which can cause you to lose traction when it’s colder.”

For those people who will be switching out their summer tires for winter ones in the coming weeks, Hildebrand said it’s important to check how much tread is left on them.

“Winter tires are designed to channel water and snow outside the tire,” he described.  “When there is low tread there isn’t enough of a void to channel outside and you can start hydroplaning.”

Winter tires should have at least 3.5mm of tread left on them, or the equivalent of stacking four dimes on top of each other.  Hildebrand noted it’s important to check at the lowest part of the tread, not the highest or the average.

Hildebrand highlighted October 1st as a good time to generally switch to winter tires, especially if you have plans to take any mountain passes, such as the Coquihalla.  The Coquihalla, like other highways, requires tires that have a snow flake emblem on them (found on all winter tires, and a few specific all-seasons) as a mark of winter quality from October 1st through the end of March.

He added there is a well-known concern about switching to winter tires too early in the year as they will be worn out if there isn’t snow, but that largely isn’t the case.  He explained the biggest tread killer is heat, and in the cooler temperatures of fall the impact the heat will have on winter tires is negligible, meaning it’s fine to put them on now.