Is it important to buy winter tires? We Albertans get a little spoiled each Winter: even our worst winter seasons come with Chinook winds. We often enjoy long stretches of relatively mild temperatures. As a result, my family has never bothered to swap out our all-seasons for winter tires.
This year is different. Having recently had a fender bender in the family, and having a smaller, lighter vehicle on the road, we’re checking our options to see if this might be the year to invest in that added peace of mind.
In their annual tire review, Consumer Reports provides some detailed information in their “Top PIck Tires for 2016” article. Based on their extensive testing, they are able to provide guidance on All Season, All Terrain, Summer, and Winter tires. Author (and tire-testing engineer!) Gene Petersen notes,
Top Pick: For the winter months, the Michelin X-ice XI3 offers outstanding snow traction and grip on ice, along with a smooth, quiet ride.
How do they come to this determination? Gene writes,
“To help our readers make informed decisions, we put more than 150 tire models through a battery of tests, including braking, handling, hydroplaning resistance, winter traction, ride comfort, and rolling resistance—a factor for fuel economy. We also evaluate how long a tire wears, by driving on them day and night for up to 16,000 miles apiece in rural Texas. The testing is so extensive, it takes us a full year to evaluate each major group.”
Here’s to a winter of safe driving on our predictably challenging Canadian winter roads!