Those who wait until first snowfall until getting winter tires installed might have an additional wait on their hands.
© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Prince Albert Kal Tire manager Rick Erickson is seen next to the winter tire display they’ve started to put up, in advance of winter tire season.
“When snow hits the ground, there’s about a six-week window from there on where it’s absolutely insane,” Kal Tire manager Rick Erickson said.
“We open at 7 a.m., and by 8 a.m. we’ll probably have 50 vehicles sitting here. (The wait) will be (until) end of the day, at best.
“You don’t want to wait until snow if you don’t want your vehicle here for the entire day or two. We’re slowly starting to educate our regular customers to put them on earlier. You don’t have to wait until snow.”
Access Tire installer Jason Cook reports a similar situation at his place of work, with it getting “pretty crazy” as soon as snow hits.
It might be a touch too early to get winter tires installed now, Erickson said but by next week the weather should be more agreeable.
“We’ve had a bit of a nicer fall so far -- in the mid 20s, so it’s a bit soon, yet,” he said, adding that winter tires are made of a softer material than all-seasons, so wear out more quickly in warm conditions.
With temperatures expected to continue dropping off over the next week, levelling off to about 10 C by Oct. 2, early October is the best time to beat the rush and not damage tires, he said.
Kal Tire’s business vehicles will have their winter tires put on this weekend, and most staff members will follow suit at that time, Erickson said, adding that one staff member has already put on his winter tires.
“If they’re doing a whole bunch of driving, I would say wait, but for people just going back and forth to work it’d be fine to put them on now,” Cook said.
Winter tires make for safer winter driving, Erickson said, adding that he’s insisted his daughter have winter tires installed on her vehicle.
Winter tires are “really a significantly softer tire, which is going to give you that added traction – a lot more siping in the tire, which is the grooves they cut into the tread that create that grip,” Erickson said. “They open up and create almost a biting action.”
Once all-season tires get below about -15 C they harden up, Cook said.
“It basically freezes,” he said. “Once it goes down to -20 C or -30 C weather and you’re trying to stop or accelerate from a stop light … your traction and your braking and turning is all compromised.”
Recognizing that there are still people who drive all year with their all-season tires and who find winter tires pointless, Cook encourages people to give them a shot.
“Within the first block or two -- Instantly, their minds will be changed,” he said.
The hardest set to buy is your first set, as far as winter tires go,” Erickson said. “I think once you’ve ran winter-specific tires, very few people will go back to not doing it.”
When getting winter tires installed, vehicle owners should request that tire shop personnel check to see that their tire pressure monitoring systems be properly set up and maintained.
These systems are in about 70 per cent of new vehicles sold in Canada, and include a dashboard light that is triggered when a tire becomes underinflated.
“It’s certainly going to maximize tire life,” Erickson said. “You can’t even tell half the time, visually looking at one to the other, that one is flat, because there’s so little sidewall, there … You’re going to wreck the tire and not even know.”