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Article and photos by Greg Wilson

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Canadian Tire Ice Rink Test

Vancouver, B.C. – Eight tires, two cars, one ice rink, and one nervous driver – those were the ingredients for an illuminating Canadian Tire comparison test between a set of Goodyear Nordic winter tires and a set of Motomaster SE2 all-season tires.

Canadian Tire brought its tire-testing road show to an ice-rink in Vancouver last week after doing similar media stints in Toronto and Montreal. The purpose, of course, was to convince journalists to write stories about the benefits of buying winter tires – especially from Canadian Tire; but for me, it was also a rare chance to test-drive winter and all-season tires back-to-back on an icy surface in identical cars. That’s the surest and most accurate way to observe the differences – it’s similar to the back-to-back comparison method used by AJAC to rate new vehicles at the annual Car of the Year TestFest event.

Canadian Tire Ice Rink Test
Graham Jeffery, Canadian Tire Business Manager, explains benefits of Goodyear Nordic winter tires. Click image to enlarge
Canadian Tire Ice Rink Test
Canadian Tire Ice Rink Test. Click image to enlarge

Canadian Tire equipped two 2013 Hyundai Elantra GTs with the aforementioned winter and all-season tires, and with the help of a professional driving instructor sitting in the passenger seat (who I suspect was there to discourage me from sliding a brand new Hyundai into the boards) I drove each car around the ice rink performing different braking, handling, and acceleration exercises.

I started out riding on the Motomaster SE2 all-season tires. I quickly discovered that a very gentle squeeze of the throttle is required to get moving on ice without spinning the tires. My driving instructor also informed me that traction control doesn’t work on glare ice! That was news to me, but he was right! There was no drama while maintaining a steady speed driving in a straight line, a fact that initially lulled me into a false sense of security. It’s only when I braked and turned that I realized how little traction all-season tires have on packed ice. Even at 20 km/h, the car couldn’t make a 90-degree turn without ploughing through the corner cones. In a straight-line panic brake test, the all-season shod car took almost 50 feet to come to a stop from 20 km/h. On glare ice, even the pulsating anti-lock braking system doesn’t seem to help regain grip and steering control.

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