Winter is slow to appear this year, but that doesn’t mean we should delay preparing for the cold weather. We need to dig out the snow brushes and shovels, pick up some salt or sand for the walkways, and most importantly we need to get the winter tires on the vehicles.
Putting the right tires on your vehicle is important for your safety and for the proper operation of you car. Many tire companies are re-naming their all-season tires as “three season” tires, because they really don’t give the traction you need on ice and through snow.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in Edmonton, Alberta with some of the Kal Tire team and a group of great bloggers. They put me behind the wheel of a car that was equipped with Kal tires, and a host of technology that you don’t usually find in your car. There were computers that were set up to gauge how well the tires perform in different weather conditions. There was a timer to test the braking speed of a vehicle in different weather conditions and with different tires. There was also a professional driver in the passenger seat, who was guiding me to put the tires to the test.
The first test I was asked to do involved me driving the vehicle around a circle of pylons, gradually increasing speed until the tires felt like they slid off to the side.
This was so out of my comfort zone.
We started around the pylons and I was starting to feel comfortable, until my coach pointed out the large cement barrier that wasn’t that far away. She suggested I avoid it, and suddenly it was all I could see. It seemed to get bigger every time I passed it. Somehow I managed to increase speed to the point of losing control (seriously…they wanted me to do that), without hitting the cement barrier. Then I did it again in the other direction.
Next I was asked to drive in a straight line, putting the gas right to the floor right from the start, and when we hit 80 kms an hour and my coach yelled “brake” I had to slam on the brakes. I did this one a few times, on both dry and wet ground, and I am very proud to say that I managed to brake in the shortest distance compared to everyone else doing the test. I received a Lead Foot award for it too!
These are just a couple of the ten tests that professional drivers do to test the performance of Kal Tires. They do these tests on frozen lakes, rough roads and wet pavement. The professional drivers who perform the tests are contracted by Kal Tire and have no further connection to the company. They simply do their tests and provide the results to the company, who then uses the data to rank their tires.
Most importantly, I learned how important it is to put winter tires on your vehicle when you live in cold temperatures like I do. While all-season tires may sound like they would be fine, winter tires are actually three times better at handling on ice. This is why Kal Tire uses the term 3-season tires rather than all-season.
Tips for choosing tires:
- Tires have an average life span of six years. This applies even to tires that are not put on a vehicle! Buy new and ask for the production date on your new tires, so you aren’t getting a set that has been sitting in the store room for a long time.
- Get your winter tires as soon as the temperatures drop below 7 degrees celsius.
- Find out which tire type, size and speed is best from a professional.
- If possible, change all tires at once so that they have equal tread for the best performance on your vehicle. If not possible, ensure the front two tires and the back two tires are the same tires.
I used all of my new knowledge to get a nice new set of winter tires for my vehicle this year. I hope you can too. Stay safe on the roads this year!