After I switched into the car equipped with the Goodyear Nordic winter tires, I performed the same manoeuvres and experienced a big improvement in braking distances, cornering grip, acceleration traction, and steering feel. In the panic braking test from 20 km/h, I stopped 20 feet shorter with the winter tires. Canadian Tire’s own tests show that the new Goodyear Nordic winter tire stops an average of 45 feet shorter than their best-selling all-season tire on ice-covered roads. Obviously, this could make the difference between colliding with another car or pedestrian and being able to avoid them and the financial and emotional costs that go with it. In my ice rink driving test, the improved traction while accelerating enabled quicker starts, cornering speeds were higher and I could hear and feel the tires biting the ice rink surface as I drove through an S-slalom course. Canadian Tire’s claim that winter tires offer up to 50% more winter traction than all-season tires seems plausible.
Canadian Tire Ice Rink Test. Click image to enlarge
Apart from a grippier tread design and water dispersing channels (V-shaped in the Goodyear Nordic tire) the secret to a winter tire’s extra grip is its softer rubber compound which remains elastic at sub-zero temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius and lower, according to the Rubber Association of Canada. In fact, all-season tires start to lose their effectiveness at temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius which affects their performance on cold, dry pavement, not just snow and ice.
While a day at the ice rink is not exactly the same as the Canadian winter experience, it certainly proves that “all-season” tires is a misnomer: “three-season” tires would be a better description.
If you’re worried about the cost of buying four new winter tires, think of it as an insurance policy. One unfortunate collision will probably cost you a lot more.