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Do We Really Need Winter Tires?

winter tiresGlobal warming seems to be affecting snow fall year after year, and one would expect that technologies such as front wheel drive, traction control and even four wheel drive would tend to lessen the need for a change of tires. So, do we really need Winter Tires? The answer is YES and believe it or not, more so than ever. One aspect of the motor vehicle which has not really changed over the past year’s, is the contact patch, or the surface area within which our car comes in contact with the road. Even today, the area that each of our wheels comes in touch with the road is not much larger than the size of one of our hands. It really is not much when one thinks about it, and therefore, we want to be able to maximize the traction within this area as much as we can in order to get the most from our tires. The other aspect not often mentioned is temperature, and that our all-season or summer tires become drastically less effective once the mercury falls below 7 degrees Celsius. There are three components that make up the composition of a winter tire, the tread pattern, the sipes or lacerations in the tread and finally the tread compound. Although the first two components aid in our car’s traction on snow and ice, it is the latter of these components that one could say is the most crucial, why, because it affects our automobile’s performance in the snow and on ice, as well as on wet or dry surfaces. Yes, you read correctly, I did say dry! The rubber compound used in winter tires is very different to the tires that we use the rest of the year, and they therefore react differently once the winter months are upon us. Simply put, if you put a winter tire and an all season tire in the freezer for a day or so, the result would be that your all-season tire tends to look like and feel like the pot roast you have next to it, while the winter tire remains flexible and soft. If we now apply these same principles of physics to our vehicle, would you rather drive on a flexible, pliable tire that is able to react under braking and handling in temperatures under 7 degrees or on four blocks of ice? I assume by now that you know where I am headed with this, but here are two very important facts to be noted:
  1. From November through April, our average Temperature in many parts of Canada is below 7 degrees Celsius.
  2. Your car’s braking distance decreases by 40 to 60% when winter tires are installed during these months.
The best way to look at this is that below 7 degrees Celsius: winter tires vs summer tires So, in conclusion, the reason to install winter tires should be that of safety, safety of the driver, the passenger and all the rest of us on the road, and they should be mandatory between November and April. They provide: Excellent driving-behavior on dry roads together with the best performance in winter. For more information about vehicle maintenance and safety visit www.carcarecanada.ca.

Common Winter Tire Myths

MYTH 1 - My vehicle has 4WD, I do not need winter tires. FALSE These systems do provide optimized power transmission delivery but provide minimal assistance in transverse handling and braking situations. Important weight combined with higher ground clearance are other factors that affect negatively the stability and control of these vehicles. With the installation of winter tires, the driver can feel optimized levels of traction during all maneuvers including acceleration, braking and handling situations. MYTH 2 - I have ABS (antilock braking) I do not require winter tires. FALSE These advanced systems are designed for vehicle stability, power transmission, and controlled braking and alone are not substitutes for optimized traction grip during all types of winter driving maneuvers including braking, acceleration, and handling. MYTH 3 - It doesn’t snow that much anymore. I feel my all-season tires are my best choice. FALSE Although all-season tires can be used in a moderate winter environment, winter tires provide the best cold weather performance below 44°F. This includes wet and dry in addition to snow/ice/slush surfaces where greater tread flexibility leads to better grip. MYTH 4 - Braking distance is the same with my all-season tires in winter. FALSE The braking distance of a winter tire compared to an all-season tire, depending on speed and road conditions, can be up to 10% shorter, or two vehicle lengths. MYTH 5 - The outside temperature does not affect my tires air pressure. FALSE Proper inflation is a critical part of tire care and should be checked monthly. In fact, for every 10°F lost in temperature, tires lose one pound of air pressure - so it's especially important to check air pressure after the first frost. Also, keep in mind that properly inflated tires ensure optimum fuel efficiency and prevent irregular or premature wear. MYTH 6 -  Winter tires are too expensive. FALSE The cost of winter tires is generally equivalent if not less than replacement tires on the vehicle. Furthermore, over the life cycle of your vehicle, you will need to purchase at least one extra set of tires on average. Equipping the vehicle with winter tires by the first winter season will represent the same cost at the end but will optimize the performance in treacherous driving conditions with the benefit of added safety.

Cold Facts About A/C Refrigerant

How did we ever get along without air conditioning in our cars? It's a feature we take for granted until, suddenly, it's blowing hot air. In the past few years, many owners have discovered that fixing an inoperative air conditioner can cost a few hundred dollars or more, depending upon the make and model of vehicle. The reason is that the old standby R-12 refrigerant, trade named DuPont Freon, has been replaced by R-134a. Touted as being environmentally safer than its predecessor, R-134a has been standard since '94. If your older vehicle needs major repairs to the air conditioning system you can expect to replace refrigerant and the oil in the compressor in addition to the old components. You also may need to install a retrofit conversion. Do not allow anyone to mix refrigerants. They're not inter-changeable. You cannot add R-134a to your older air conditioner without first flushing the system. Further, according to Car Care Canada, some substitutes are volatile mixtures of propane, butane and flammable hydrocarbons. Keep in mind the fact that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, you're damaging the ozone layer. An annual inspection of the vehicle, including the air conditioning system, may help forestall costly repairs.
Schedule your appointment online and have us evaluate your system before your vehicle is blowing hot air!
Article from Car Care Canada.ca
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