Article by Haney Louka, photos courtesy Kal Tire
Here in Winnipeg, the winter of 2013-2014 was one for the record books. We had both extreme cold and heavy snowfall over the season. In fact, most of Canada experienced a nasty winter last year, and if the Old Farmer’s Almanac is to be believed, we should be bracing for more of the same over the coming months.
Getting through the winter safely and comfortably means having a reliable ride that will not only start and warm up for us when we need it to, but will also get us where we need to go with minimal unsolicited drama. A well-maintained and reliable vehicle will look after the starting and warming up part, but we’re firm believers that the most important way to safely get folks where they need to go in winter is by putting a set of proper winter tires on their car.
There are all kinds of reasons why people don’t use them, none of which are particularly valid, but some are better than others. For example, many people drive crossovers or SUVs that have high ground clearance and all-wheel drive. They’ll never get stuck, right? Well, maybe. But having adequate traction is much less about accelerating smartly when the light turns green (although it has its merits) and more about being able to grip the road when it really matters: stopping, turning and during emergency maneuvers. And automotive salespeople aren’t helping this situation: just this past month my parents bought a 2015 Mazda CX-5 and were told by the salesman that one of the reasons they should get all-wheel drive was so they could avoid the cost of buying a set of winter tires. He should be fired.
And what about cost? Two sets of tires clearly cost more than one. But for anybody who keeps their vehicles for a long time will find that they go through more than one set of tires anyway. With winters, they just own the two sets at the same time. And we haven’t started talking about the money saved with one avoided collision, but that’s a bit of a nebulous concept, so we’ll stay away from that here.
Kal Tire All-Weather Tire Graphic, Tire Tread Chart. Click image to enlarge
Just this year, Manitoba Public Insurance introduced a program aimed at increasing winter tire usage by Manitobans. To say I was skeptical of the program would be an understatement because it’s simply a financing deal for winter tires and accessories at prime plus two percent. Which to me would imply that most drivers simply can’t (as opposed to ‘won’t’) afford to spend the money on winter tires. I didn’t think that was the case. I thought most of those who have considered and rejected the idea of buying winter tires have decided that they’d rather do something else with their money. But a quick call to my local Kal Tire store has made me do an about-face.