Winter tires – Do you need them?

Don’t let the balmy weather fool you – winter is just around the corner.

And for many drivers it means it’s time to get those winter tires on.

“It’s an issue of safety and all my kids’ cars the same thing –  I want them on winter tires,” Kent Donaldson told Global News.

“The difference for me is control. You can actually feel the control on the ice or on the snow,” said Joachim Kuzel.

And they’re not alone.

There’s already a 10-day waiting list to get winter tires on at this dealer.

And it would be a longer list if not for the estimated 50 per cent of drivers that use all-season tires year round.

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But tire experts say once it drops below 7 degrees, they lose their grip and braking distance in all road conditions.

“The rubber is just too hard in the tread to give you proper grip, and you don’t even need to have snow and slush, just a wet road at 7 degrees or lower and your grip is greatly diminished.” said Bill Gardiner of Kal Tire.

“[With] an all-season the slush will clog the tread and the tire can’t get down to the road surface to get the grip you need.” he added.

The experts say winter tires have a softer rubber, more treads and deeper groves for better traction on snow and ice.

Now if you don’t want to buy two sets of tires – one for summer and one for winter – there’s a new option – all-weather tires.

They have good grip below and above 7 degrees and can be driven year-round.

They are not that much more expensive and are recommended for anyone who drives mostly in the city.

But remember, whatever tire you use, it won’t do the job unless it has right air pressure.

Tires lose air in cold weather and should be checked more often.

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“You have the right amount of tire making contact with the road so you get the ultimate traction for accelerating for braking for steering,” according to Wayne McLachlan of the Alberta Motor Association.

If you do decide to stick with all seasons, make sure the tread depth is at least 6/32nds of an inch, or you’ll be sliding all winter long.