While the calendar might have winter another six weeks away, when it comes to the weather affecting your car, it’s already here.
And to stay safe on the road this winter, it’s best not to wait until the first storm hits to get prepared, says Chris Dirkson, owner of Fountain Tire’s Langley Bypass location.
The right tires are key for safe travels
Safe winter driving begins with the right tires, and here in B.C., that usually means winter tires.
“The most important thing is that winter tires are designed to out-perform all-seasons in cool-weather conditions,” Dirkson explains.
Even where winter tires aren’t legally required, they’re still your best bet once temperatures drop to 7°C. At that point, the rubber compounds in all-season tires change, providing poor traction. That means that even if temperatures are not below freezing, wet roads become a challenge for vehicle traction and handling.
“When you have those icy conditions, or even wet conditions at cooler temperatures, all seasons just don’t have the same traction as winter tires,” Dirkson says.
B.C.’s winter tire rules are in place on various highways throughout the province from Oct. 1 to March 31. In the Lower Mainland, that includes sections of Highway 1 and Highway 99 to Whistler. Drivers on these marked roads must have tires displaying the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol or the M+S (mud and snow) symbol, with at least 3.5 mm tread.
While mud and snow tires are acceptable according to the driving regulations, the true winter tires offer the best traction for snow, ice and cold weather, Dirkson notes.
“Additionally, you want to make sure the tread depth is at least 4 mm for proper traction,” Dirkson says.
Winter driving prep doesn’t end with your tires.
That same wet weather and cold temperatures means it’s important to have the professionals check your vehicle’s other systems as well.
The arrival of the Lower Mainland’s rainy season means it’s a good time to check your windshield wipers, and all bulbs, replacing them as needed to ensure excellent visibility and safety as you navigate winter’s dark, wet commute, Dirkson says.
Make sure all your fluids are geared for cold weather. As they age, fluids break down and become less effective. To protect your engine, make sure you’re up to date on scheduled preventive maintenance and fluid changes.
“It’s common for weak batteries to fail when the temperature drops,” Dirkson says, noting service technicians can provide peace of mind with a charging system check.
Fountain Tire is a Canadian company that has provided quality tires and automotive service to Canadians since 1956.