Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter tires?

Today I replaced the tires on my car. The Queen's head (on the now defunct Canadian penny) showed clearly when the coin was pressed into the groove.

The tires had lasted about 85,000 km - not bad. The new tires are a different brand - and based on earlier experience, they should last longer.

To be clear, however, I'm referring to all-season radials in all cases. In fact, I've never put 'winter' tires on any of my cars. My first car, a 1980 Honda Accord, I fitted with a new set of CT all seasons in Montreal. I drove this back and forth between Montreal and London a few times. I had a couple of hairy spins on pure ice in that car - but I din't have any problems with snow. (Having to dig it out of a snow bank after the plows have come by doesn't count.)

Since then, I've owned a number of cars. These days, it's a 2006 Acura CSX. This has front wheel drive, a standard transmission, and  ABS brakes. This car divides its time between Toronto and Muskoka. This winter, despite the frequent and substantive snow we've experienced, I have had no issues stopping or starting with my regular OLD all-seasons!

Why is that? First, my car has a standard transmission with front wheel drive, and I know how to use the gears to avoid getting stuck. Second, the car has the best ABS system I've had on a car. On those odd occasions I've had to brake hard on snow, I've had no issues stopping and keeping in control. Thirdly, I drive defensively - managing the space between my car and others. I do this year round, be it dry, wet or snowy.

I considered purchasing 'winter' tires back in December. This would have set me back approximately $1,000 including spare rims.

It's true that the wear on the winter tires would have saved the wear on my all seasons. However, the winter tires do not have nearly the tread life of the all seasons - due to the softer rubber. With the higher cost and poorer wear of the winter tires, I would easily be doubling my tire costs on a pro rated basis.

I would have to pay for the mounting and dismounting each Autumn and Sprit too!

So why all the hype about winter tires that we've been deluged with the past couple of years? Has it been orchestrated by the tire companies? I don't know. More likely overzealous automotive journalists!

If I drove an automatic, I might consider winter tires With automatics, drivers become sloppy and inattentive - as they do not need manage the cars motion as continually as on a standard.

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