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Winter tire (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Winter tire (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Road Sage

The problem with winter tire skeptics Add to ...

Are you tired of tires? If you’re a driver living in a region that has the pleasure of experiencing all four seasons, the answer must certainly be “yes.” That’s because we always seem to be on the verge of having to change them.

For example, each year when nice weather turns into ice weather, drivers contemplate the biannual tire change and rotation. They ask themselves a series of questions and then, when they’ve answered them, immediately forget the experience, in much the same way that women (according to men) quickly forget the pain of childbirth.

Here’s the “Tired Tires List.”

The leaves are changing colour. There’s a nip in the air. I see pumpkins.

When should I put on my winter tires?

Oh yeah, once the average temperature is consistently below 7 C.

So, where are my winter tires?

Okay … so it looks like I stored my winter tires behind the shed all summer under blistering heat.

Does that mean I should I buy new winter tires?

I’ll price it out.

Are winter tires really that expensive?

Wow, I understand that you can’t put a price tag on not getting in a horrendous winter crash, but I was hoping to spend that money on a new Sony 4K Ultra HD.

Can I get by with my all-seasons? After all, I live in a city and – insert name of aged rural magazine here – says it’s going to be a good winter for risking your own and your family’s safety.

Of course, the chance to ask these questions sometimes disappears before we even know we have it. Winter has a habit of surprising Canadians. Which is strange, given that we live in a country that, for nine out of 12 months, experiences conditions that the rest of the civilized world considers sub-arctic. Case in point: those living in the Prairies and Alberta have already been hit with their first big snowstorm. Winter tire tardies were lining up at the garage. In Edmonton, Fountain Tire told CBC News that it was running 100 customers through a day.

At least these drivers were getting winter tires. You’d think that would be a given, but there are those who believe that the need for winter tires is just drummed-up hype designed to make money for tire manufacturers and their co-conspirators. I’ve never got that one. Then again, I’m pretty sure that Elvis is in fact deceased and not living in Smith Falls, Ont.

There are many reasons to use winter tires. These are enumerated each fall in countless articles. Winter tires are not just for blizzards and ice storms – and by the way, why are you driving in such conditions? They offer drivers better braking distance. That’s because winter tires remain supple in frigid conditions. When you run on all-seasons, they can harden, providing less grip.

Tire skeptics are primarily an urban phenomenon. Those living up north and in the country know they’ll be in trouble without them, but someone living, say, in the Golden Horseshoe might be tempted to go a season on his all-seasons. But, to those tired of winter tires, it’s a hedge bet. They risk a little crash in order to save a little cash. That’s a precarious position. On the road, things happen lightning-fast. Ice and snow only make them faster. Do yourself a favour and get them changed.

After all, when it comes to winter tires, if you can’t live with them – you might not live without them.

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