Snow tires

We received some unexpected (even though it’s winter) snow in Prince Albert today.  The roads were treacherous.  On the way back from running some errands, my car slid past one exit and was nearly rear-ended.  Then I almost missed the next exit, slidding into the grass meridian.  I had to back up to reposition and then almost didn’t make it up the sloped exit.  A car ahead of me somehow managed to do almost a 180 in a straight stretch of road.

In fact, that was typical at the intersection by the church.  I almost slid into a street light, trying to make a left.  Then I watched from my office window as the roads got worse and people got into fender benders and found themselves trying to enter into an exit lane.  Cars perpendicular to the road, drivers clumsily trying to slip-slide their way back into position.

We plains/interior folk like to make fun of people in warmer climes (such as Vancouver and the island), where cities effectively shut down with an inch of snow, but I realized today that if seasoned winter drivers like us have a hard time with wet, freezing weather, it’s understandable that people in areas where snow is uncommon (and slopes are more common) can’t handle it.

So I’m faced with the snow tire issue again.  I’ve been putting off buying rims for the snow tires I have for the van, but now I’m wondering if I should go the snow tire route with the Honda as well.  It seems, however, that I must decide quickly, because there may be a snow tire shortage in the Canadian west: demand for snow tires in Quebec is way up, because they will soon be mandatory on all vehicles.

The thing is, prior to last winter I had never driven on snow tires and never seriously considered buying them.  In fact, I wasn’t aware that anyone I knew used them and was quite surprised to learn that almost everyone in the Okanagan valley, of all places, uses them.  The only reason I used them last winter was because we got a set of snow tires with our van purchase.  But now that I’ve used them, it seems like a necessity.

But I’m not sure I’m willing to shell out the $800 or so to fully equip both vehicles with snow tires (and rims), especially since I had never used them before last winter.  Plus, I only assume that they make a difference, based on what people tell me and the fact that their “winter tires”.  But all-season tires, which I have, cover winter as well.  I’ve never done a driving test and I’m doubtful enough to think that the winter tires seemed to give more traction than the all-season tires simply because I was expecting them to (and perhaps driving more cautiously as a result of my awareness)—but it had been 4-6 months since I had driven in winter on all-season tires and that was in a different vehicle, so comparison isn’t really possible.

That’s today’s snooze-fest, folks.

5 thoughts on “Snow tires

  1. Ian H.

    Only anecdotal, but the only person that had no problem getting up a snowy hill at our local camp was the driver of the only snow tire-equipped vehicle. Everyone else had to be pushed up the hill…

  2. Linea

    I found out about a type of all-season tires available from Kal Tire from my daughter-in-law. Leo got them first. I was skeptical that it would make a huge difference but they really have. They just provide a lot more lateral stability for some reason.

    I am sure she could tell you the name of these tires. I could too but I would have to go out and look at the tires and it is snowy out there!

    They cost a bit but you keep them on all year so don’t need extra rims.

  3. Phil L

    We always used all-season radials until a couple of years ago, when we finally shelled out for a set of snow tires and rims for our van. I wouldn’t go back. They make a noticeable difference, a lot less slip-slidin’ away. The difference is in the softer rubber and the increased number of sipes (those little grooves).

  4. Tal

    Well I guess it depends Marc – what would be more expensive? Winter tires for the Honda or fixing the Honda (and maybe another car) if it slips a bit too far?

    Also, “all-season” tires are only good for up to -4 and winter tires hold a grip well below that. For what it’s worth.

  5. Scott

    Nokian are a brand from finland that Kal Tire sells that are apparently good. Some people leave snow tires on all year and just keep buying a new pair and moving the tires back every year… You want to go hard core… get studded!

Comments are closed.