QUEBEC CITY, QC – Given the sheer variety of winter tires available, it’s fair to say consumers are spoiled for choice. But how should they best make that choice? To help them select the type of tires best suited to their vehicle and the road conditions they encounter most often, CAA-Quebec has assembled a list of best practices.
“Best buy” lists, pricing and lesser-known brands
“Best buy” lists let consumers break down the differences between various brands and models based on multiple criteria including tread design, materials, overall road performance and price. But a more expensive tire, or even a better-rated one, isn’t necessarily the ideal match for all vehicles or all driving conditions. Consumers should also be wary of lesser-known, often more affordable brands, including some from Asian manufacturers. While these tires are not of poor quality, in some cases their performance is still not completely proven—and that could mean issues with after-sales service. If in doubt, motorists should consult with an expert regarding tire quality and compatibility with their vehicle make and model.
Four identical tires
It goes without saying that all four tires on a vehicle must be the same (manufacturer, tread pattern, size, etc.). Ideally, they should all have just about the same degree of wear. If they don’t—and this is contrary to a popular misconception regarding front-wheel-drive vehicles—the two tires with the least wear should be in the rear to ensure stability (i.e., the rule is the same as with rear-wheel-drive vehicles).
When is the best time to install?
As soon as overnight temperatures dip below freezing. At this point in autumn, even if the temperature during the day rises above 0°C, there is no need to worry about premature wear. What’s more, winter tires are a better choice than all-season models in “black ice” conditions: all-seasons gradually lose their elasticity, and therefore don’t grip as well, once the temperature drops to 7°C or lower. Lastly, although the legal requirement to equip a vehicle with winter tires isn’t effective until December 15, CAA-Quebec stresses the importance of making an appointment right away, to be sure of running on the right tires for the right season.
Changing diameter? Be careful
Many motorists reflexively choose winter tires of a smaller diameter than the factory-installed ones, so that they’ll have more choice and, in some cases, pay less. While that decision isn’t completely inadvisable, they should at least check with an expert to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises in store—especially if it is a late-model vehicle. For example, smaller tires could affect the parameters of a vehicle’s onboard computer, and in turn interfere with proper operation of the brakes. Speedometer accuracy may also be affected.
Changing the tires at home? Be especially careful
If not enough force is applied when tightening the nuts, a wheel could fly off the vehicle, in turn causing an accident with potentially serious consequences. The risk of such an incident can be greatly reduced by using a torque wrench, a special tool that ensures the correct manufacturer-recommended wheel-nut torque.
Getting new winter tires with a new vehicle
Consumers too often forget that, as part of the process of purchasing or leasing a new car, they can negotiate to have a set of winter tires included in the sale price. If you do this, however, be sure that the tires the dealer is offering are the right match for the road conditions you will most often encounter in your travels. Is there usually a lot of snow? Or are icy road surfaces more the problem? Basically, everything is negotiable, even the type of tires included in the transaction.
Source: Canada Newswire / CAA