Snow tires are just down the road
QMI AGENCY FILE
Winter is fast approaching, and the time has come for vehicle owners to think about changing to snow tires. While snow tires aren’t mandatory in Alberta as they are in some provinces, all season tires might not be enough to weather an Alberta winter.
“The rubber compound of an all season tire starts to get hard and lose traction at about -10 C,” said Charlotte Alexandre of Kal Tire in Lacombe. “Of course, our region gets a lot colder than that.”
According to Alexandre, there are three different types of snow tire. The traditional hard lug tire is the most economical model, but the studded tire (with hard lug inside) and soft ice radial compound (the soft, almost sticky compound sticks to black ice) provide superior traction.
“Purchase the winter tire for your needs,” said Alexandre.
“If your biggest concern is, ‘I do a lot of highway travel,’ ‘I’m concerned about black ice at polished intersections,’ than either a studded tire or an ice radial will be your best bet.”
“Any winter tire is going to be a significant improvement over an all season,” she added.
Mid-October is the time to make the switch to winter tires, a scant five months after removing them in mid-May. Make an appointment at your automotive service provider early to avoid the rush.
“If you wait until it snows, you’ll be waiting quite a bit to get your car back,” warns Alexandre.
Unless you know your way around the inner workings of your automobile, you may want to get your service provider to perform a winter preparation inspection of your vehicle.
“We do a 40-point check,” said Alexandre. “We check things like belts, hoses, brakes, front end components, coolant strengths, making sure they’ve got the bug wash out of their washer fluid and they’ve got proper washer fluid that can withstand freezing.”
Alberta Transportation recommends checking tire pressure, which decreases in cold weather, when preparing for winter driving. Over- or under-inflated tires will have less traction. Other suggestions include putting extra weight in the back of one’s vehicle (improves traction) and using heavy duty windshield wipers in areas of high snowfall. Keep the following items in an emergency kit:
basic tools (screwdriver, wrench, etc.)
blankets, extra clothing and footwear
candle in a deep tin and matches
coins for the telephone
non-perishable food supplies
first aid kit
flashlight with extra batteries
flares or a reflective triangle
ice scraper and snow brush
inflated spare tire and jack
sand, road salt or kitty litter
tow chain or rope