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Why winter tires should matter if you live in BC

Use our BCAA Winter Tire Guide to find the right type and save

Every year, BC receives a smorgasbord of winter weather warnings—a little snow, a little rain, a little snow mixed with rain, flurries in some parts and fog in other—and there ALWAYS seems to be a chance of precipitation. What remains constant is that all winter conditions—not just snow—make driving more challenging than any other time of the year. One of our best allies that can keep us safe on the road is our tires.

Having proper winter tires can help you get through BC’s mixed and messy bag of winter conditions. Their rubber compound is designed for the cold and deeper treads offer superior traction and grip in all conditions—wet, icy or snowy roads. To help you find the right tires, use these tips from our automotive experts found in our winter tire guide:

1. Get advice before buying a new set of tires

Do you drive mainly in the city or on highways? Does where you live have more rain or snow? These are some of the question to ask yourself in order to figure out your personal needs. Visit your local BCAA Auto Service Centre and one of our trusted experts can help you choose the right tires and then mount them for you.

BCAA Members can earn up to 125 CAA Dollars (which works just like real money) on new Pirelli winter tires until Dec 15, 2018. CAA Dollars can be redeemed towards your Membership renewal, BCAA Insurance or for your next maintenance or repair at any BCAA Auto Service Centre.


2. Understand the types of tires

  • All-season tires: Designed for comfort, noise and traction in wet, dry and light-snow conditions. The rubber component does harden and loses grip as it gets colder, particularly below 7 degrees Celsius.
  • Winter tires (Three-peak mountain symbol). Have superior grip and traction compared to other tires as they’re made with softer rubber that maintains grip when temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius. Their deep treads grip extremely well on snow and ice, and during heavy rains.
  • Mud and snow tires (M+S symbol). A variety of all-season tires which has deeper grooves for better performance in mud and snow. They also have extra siping (small cuts across the tread) for more grip and traction.
  • All-weather tires. Similar to all-seasons with a focus on more extreme winter conditions of colder temperatures, snow and ice. While they can’t provide the same level of cold-weather performance as true winter tires, the rubber compound does stay flexible above and below seven degrees Celsius. All-weathers typically wear more quickly in warm weather compared to traditional all-seasons.

3. Never mix and match

For any type of tire you use, installing four of the same kind is important for balanced braking and steering performance. Different types of tires will react differently to road conditions and braking and steering which means your car may be unable to respond properly in an emergency situation.


4. Check with an expert before installing smaller tires

Speak with an expert beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises—especially if you drive a newer car. For example, smaller tires can falsify the speedometer readings, or interfere with the stability and traction control which is a crucial component that helps prevent skidding out of control.


5. Choose used tires wisely

Used tires can be a good deal—provided both price and quality are appropriate. On the other hand, a good number of questionable tires are found in online marketplaces. Usually, it’s better to buy tires new or from a specialized dealer who can guarantee the used tires’ quality.


6. Check your tread

Before you install your current winter tires, ensure they still have at least 5 millimetres (6/32 inch) of tread thickness. Never wait until they're at the minimum legal tread depth of 3.5 millimetres (5/32 inch) for winter tires. A tire with a tread that has worn too thin won’t disperse enough snow or rain water to retain a safe grip on the road, much less on an icy surface.


While the right tires and proper winter maintenance on your car will help with grip and braking performance, another must is to adjust our driving habits to match the conditions to ensure we’re all safe. Even with winter tires, it’s important to drive at slower speeds and leave more room between you and the car ahead.