s u b winter tires

Get a grip on the West Coast Winter

The West Coast is home to stunning mountains, green landscapes, and weather conditions that can definitely keep you guessing at every turn. In an instant, rain begins to fall, and snow rolls in, with the weather moving from one extreme to another, and fast. This can make off-and-on roading adventures in your Subaru that much more exciting, with the right equipment of course. With only 4 small points of contact between your vehicle and the road, it is important to make sure that you have a firm grip in every condition.

You are probably seeing the familiar signs along the highway stating that from October 1st to April 30th, winter tires or chains are required. But many wonder why it is so important to follow this standard. Why aren't all-season tires enough and what actually determines making this changeover when temperatures drop? In today's Subaru FAQ we explore the reasons behind these standards and answer some of the most common questions about winter tires and seasonal changeover.

Why are winter tires better in the colder seasons?

Did you know winter tires have a specific chemical compound and tread rubber to make them effective against the elements?

When considering winter driving conditions, it isn't just the cold temperatures you have to worry about. Without climate-appropriate tires, stubborn snow and ice on roadways can lead to a thin layer of water and slush developing between your tire treads as your drive. This can create a dangerous hydroplaning effect, impacting the handling of your vehicle. Winter tires are equipped with both a chemical compound and specially engineered tread rubber to resist this buildup and stop three times faster than both summer and all-season tires, giving you more control on those dangerous roadways.

What is the difference between winter and all-season tires?

When it comes to all-season tires, it is important to understand where they are effective and where their use could impact your driving safety. All-season tires are optimized for the best all-around performance in the widest variety of weather conditions. When temperatures are cool, all-season tires offer better performance than summer tires; however, when temperatures rise, they perform better than winter tires. Although there are benefits to all-season tires, during the appropriate weather conditions, they are not ideal for the harsher winter conditions that we so often face here on Vancouver Island and in BC.

The largest difference between winter and all-season tires is the use-case for the rubber compound. As the temperature drops, the rubber in all-season and summer tires becomes stiff. However, at the same time, winter tires remain flexible and able to grip the road in rainy, icy, and snowy winter conditions.

Why four winter tires?

Vehicle manufacturers recommend four winter tires be used on rear wheel, front wheel or four wheel drive vehicles. Why is this?

If a vehicle is equipped with two different kinds of seasonal tires, it will be attempting to operate on different sizes, pressures, tread pattern,s and tread depths, creating a split 'personality'. In emergency situations, your vehicle will not perform optimally in conditions such as wet, slush or snow as your vehicle attempts to drive or brake.

When should I swap my tires?

Signs are posted on designated roadways across the province to let you know when you're on a winter tire-mandatory stretch and the dates of enforcement. However, winter wires are strongly recommended for all road conditions when temperatures consistently fall below 7ºC. When temperatures fall, the softer rubber compound of winter tires and deeper tread patterns give winter tires more traction across ice- and snow-covered roads, making them specifically designed to handle the challenges of driving in the most dangerous months of the year.

What if my vehicle has Traction Control?

Traction control does assist you from overpowering your tires by limiting your car's acceleration to the traction level of your tires, however, it does not improve your tire's traction overall. Winter tires provide more grip, resulting in increased control during winter driving.

Why do I need my wheels aligned and tires balanced after the changeover?

The answer is simple, safety. Every occurrence such as hitting a big bump or driving on rough roads can throw your car out of balance, resulting in higher levels of vibration in the steering wheel and uneven tire wear. If your vehicle is imbalanced and the wear of your tires is negatively impacted, their traction may be reduced in winter conditions. Although brand-new tires should be uniform, balancing your tires will allow imperfections to be detected and fixed before you get out on the roads.

Once the winter season is over it is important to book an appointment to switch your tires back. The rubber compound in winter tires does not perform well in warm conditions due to its flexibility, which can lead to premature wearing and decreased performance.

Still have questions?

Our Subaru Tire Experts are happy to answer any of your questions or to help you with your seasonal changeover.

Learn more about the importance of winter tires and book your next tire service here.

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