Switch tires at +7C

Kal Tire has launched a campaign urging drivers to switch to winter tires at +7 C.

Tests show all-season tires don't have the winter gripping power of winter tires, according to the Vernon-based national company which refers to all-season tires as 'three seasons'.

Amber Balcaen, the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race, has been enlisted to help dispel dangerous winter tire myths.

“As a professional driver, I know my experience can only get me so far, especially in rough and unpredictable winter conditions off the track. It’s my tires that let my vehicle stick to the road and brake in time,” said Balcaen in a press release. “I wouldn’t step into my race car without putting my helmet on – just like I wouldn’t drive my personal vehicle in the winter without my winter tires.”

Balcaen is fronting Kal Tire's new ‘7 Degree Switch’ campaign, which likens the dangers of driving on all-season tires in winter conditions to driving while texting or without wearing a seatbelt.

“Having grown up in Winnipeg and experienced the worst of Canadian winters, I know what happens when you’ve got the wrong tires in winter, so we’re saying, ‘don’t be that guy'.”

Kal Tire said it has invested in extensive independent tire testing to evaluate the performance of both new and worn all-season, all-weather and winter tires in Canadian winter conditions.

A company spokesperson said the evidence has been both surprising and significant: from 50 km/h, passenger winter tires stopped over six metres shorter on loose snow than all-season tires and nearly nine metres shorter on icy conditions at 30 km/h.

“Having the right tires on your vehicle as temperatures fall below +7C is critical,” said Geoff Wiebe, A tire expert with Kal Tire. “All it takes is one episode of cold weather or snowfall to see a dramatic decrease in your tires’ braking and cornering capabilities."

The company refuted what it called winter myths, including:

  • All-season tires are safe for all seasons

“It’s not about the snow. It’s about the temperature,” said Wiebe, pointing out that all-season tires contain less natural rubber, so they stiffen once temperatures are consistently below +7C.

  • Mud and snow (M+S) tires are fine for winter driving

M+S tires, are not winter rated, said the company, so they do not bear the winter tire mountain snowflake symbol because they do not meet the snow traction requirements true winter tires must meet to earn that designation.

  • All-wheel drive (AWD), 4-wheel drive (4WD) and other electronic systems are all that's needed for safe grip and traction in winter

“What’s important to remember here is these electronic systems won’t have much grip to work with at a slippery intersection if your tires are 3-seasons that have gone stiff in the cold,” said Wiebe. 

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