Vancouverites have lots to be proud of when it comes to all the amazing amenities, outdoor activities, and foodie options that are right in our backyard. We also have a pretty mild climate compared to the rest of Canada, so winterizing our vehicles and the thought of winter tires don’t usually come to mind until the first sign of snowfall. To help you avoid the mad dash come November and ease into preparing your MINI for the fall/winter season, we have answers to common questions that MINIacs may have on winter tires.
1. If I'm mainly driving in Vancouver, do I necessarily need winter tires? Or are there all-season tires that would cover winter driving?
The Ministry of Transportation notes that due to a more temperate climate in the Lower Mainland, drivers are not required to use winter tires unless they are travelling outside of that area. As of October 1st, winter tires are required for select mountain passes/routes/highways and high snowfall areas such as the Coquihalla and Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99 heading to Squamish and Whistler).
If you’re planning on going up to the local mountains or venturing out of Metro Vancouver, winter tires are definitely a must. You can read more about the designated routes requiring winter tires on the BC Government website, here.
The main difference between winter tires and all-season tires is that all-season tires lose a significant amount of traction at about 7 degrees. By 3 degrees, they are significantly degraded in their ability to grip in wet or dry conditions. Hence, it really comes down to what the outside temperature is at and how prepared you want to be.
2. Are all winter tires made equal? What are some things to look out for if I want a quality set?
A truly dedicated winter tire will have the “snowflake symbol” indicating that it meets the severe service standard. Which means it can handle snowy and slippery roads at low temperatures and meets the minimum requirements for providing snow traction.
Remember that not all winter tires are created equal as many higher-end name brand tires generally use better compounds and materials. MINI carefully selects each winter tire to match the performance and characteristics of all their models, so you’ll be ready to brave the first snowfall with complete confidence.
3. How does tire pressure affect the performance of my tires in the Winter?
Once the weather starts to cool, your car may begin signaling to you that your tire pressure is low as the temperature outside has a direct impact on tire pressure. When the temperature is high, the air in your tires takes up more volume, but when the temperature is cold, the air takes up less volume. Thus, when the temperature plunges, the computer in your car believes that your tires are low on air. The inflation pressure in tires generally drops 2 psi for every 10 degrees drop in temperature. This is why it is important to check tire pressure on a weekly basis.
4. I always hear about chains. What are those and is it necessary when I have great winter tires on?
Snow chains are chains that are fitted to the tires to allow maximum traction when driving through the ice and snow. However, chains are not recommended for MINI models as MINI recommends winter tires instead.
5. I want to buy a set of dedicated winter tires, but storage of my current tires is an issue. What do you recommend?
Rest assured that if you do require storage for your newly purchased winter tire set, we can certainly help out with that! Here at MINI Richmond, we offer a storage program for $105.00 plus taxes (per 6 month season). It includes the cleaning of your winter or summer tire set and 6 months of storage in a dry and temperature controlled environment.
6. Who needs winter tires? I have all-wheel drive.
Ever see a dog trying to run on a patch of ice? He’s got power to all four paws, but he’s not going anywhere. All-wheel drive can’t do much if you don't have traction. In addition to going, you also need to be able to stop. All-wheel drive systems don't brake any faster than front-wheel drive vehicles, and winter tires do a better job at stopping than all-seasons do.
We hope that these practical tips from our Certified MINI Technicians at MINI Richmond helped answer any questions that you may have had. If you’re ready to book an appointment or want to know more about getting your MINI winter-ready, give us a call at 604-232-7880 or send us an email at [email protected]. We’re always here for you at MINI Richmond and would love to chat about all things MINI!
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