Do you need Winter Tires in Victoria?

Winter tires are superior to all season tires or summer tires in winter driving conditions for the following reasons:

  • Snow tires have a tread structure that is more aggressive and lets snow clear from the tread
  • Rubber compounds on winter tires are usually softer which allow them to achieve better traction on snow and wet roads
  • Good winter tires shorten braking distance, improve grip when accelerating, and grip better when cornering

Winter tires also contain a special rubber compound mix which allows the rubber to stay softer at lower temperatures, increasing overall grip. As temperatures drop, standard non-winter compounds show decreased elasticity – resulting in a reduced contact area and a decrease in overall grip. The TOYO brand of winter tires such as the Observe GSi-5 also contains crushed black walnut shells embedded in the tread. Why? This environmentally friendly product – which is one of the hardest known natural substances – acts as tiny spikes for increased ice traction. The properties of a winter tire are geared toward cold weather performance, not just snow and ice conditions. A winter tire helps even in the cold, rainy Victoria weather due to the sophisticated rubber compounds and treads.

Do you have all season radials, summer tires, or low profile sport tires?
If you have summer tires or sporty low profile tires, we strongly recommend winter tires on all 4 wheels. Save those other tires for the summer months but don’t trust your safety to them in the rainy, snowy, and icy conditions that you can experience in a Victoria winter.

Is your vehicle front or rear wheel drive?
We find that front wheel drive cars are better in snowy road conditions. Having the engine/transaxle weight right over the driving wheels can help with traction.

Do I need snow tires if I have a vehicle with traction control, stability control, all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive?
There are a lot of reasons to think your vehicle may not need snow tires, especially on a crossover or sport utility vehicle such as the Mazda CX7, CX9 or Tribute. But even with vehicles that feature 4-wheel drive, traction control, stability control or ABS brakes, the ultimate link between your vehicle and the road is your tires. These features may increase traction when accelerating, but will be of little help when cornering in icy or snowy conditions and of no help when braking. Winter tires provide the best stopping traction in addition to starting and cornering improvements.

I have “all season” tires and this is Victoria which has pretty mild winters – surely I don’t need winter tires?
Snow and ice is often the slipperiest right around the freezing point.  Snowy conditions in Victoria right around 0 degrees C are probably more treacherous than snowy conditions in Calgary at -25 degrees when it comes to traction.
Another factor to consider is that many newer tires have been designed to be “low rolling resistance” tires. While these tire improve fuel economy, they may not provide the handling characteristics desired in wet, cold, and snow/ice conditions.

What is the tread life like on your tires regardless of what type they are?
The condition of your tires must also be evaluated. Worn all season tires may be worse than new summer tires and likewise, old winter tires may not be as good as new all season tires. Get the dealer to give you a good honest opinion on the tread life of your tires. If your all season tires are getting toward mid-end of their life, we strongly recommend getting a set of winter tires. This will also allow you to stretch the life of your other tires.

OK, so I need winter tires. Do I get 2 tires or 4 tires?
If a vehicle has only two snow tires mounted ,lateral traction is still limited to what the other two summer tires are capable of. This can easily lead to fish-tailing – so in almost all cases we recommend getting 4 winter tires and having them aligned and balanced to promote even wear.

Can I get studded snow tires on my car?
Studded tires do provide additional grip on ice and very hard packed snow. In BC, studded tires are not legal since they cause considerable damage to the roads when the roads are not covered with snow and ice. Some of the new tires contain materials such as crushed walnut shells (very hard) embedded into the rubber compound to improve traction.

Are there any disadvantages to putting winter tires on my car in Victoria?
You may notice a slightly rougher ride with a bit more road noise due to the more aggressive tread patterns. You may also notice a slight decrease in fuel economy because of increased rolling resistance. However, the benefits and safety of having winter tires greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

What is the best brand of winter tires for my Mazda?
There is no right answer here and that is why we carry so many major brands. Depending on whether you have a car, truck, SUV, or crossover vehicle, and depending on your requirements and your budget, our experts at Pacific Mazda can make a recommendation that best suits you.
Recommendations from our experts:

For those who drive the Malahat or go skiing to Mt. Washington it’s a necessity…
Get good snow tires on all 4 wheels. Also consider getting them mounted on inexpensive steel wheels that you can put on for the winter and change them back in the spring.

At Pacific Mazda, we have expertise on which tires are best suited to your Mazda vehicle. We also have expertise in properly mounting, balancing, and aligning your tires to meet the manufacturers’ specifications. Selecting and mounting the correct winter tires for your Mazda requires a level of expertise and experience which our staff have.

At Pacific Mazda, we carry most major brands of tires. Our prices are very competitive because we buy so many tires for Mazda vehicles

Here are some starting prices: (As at November 2011)
Mazda 3 snow tires from… $189.00 ea.
Mazda 3 steel wheels from… $80.00 ea.
Mounting and balancing are included at Pacific Mazda with tire purchase.
Buy 4 tires and get a wheel alignment for $79.95

See our Service Team for special pricing on tire and wheel packages and discounts from Mazda and our tire manufacturers.

Tires are one of the best safety investments you can make for your vehicle.

Click for another article  Winter Tires 101