Winter tires: CAA-Quebec urges motorists to be vigilant

QUEBEC, Nov. 7, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - With temperatures already dipping to near the freezing point overnight, CAA-Quebec reminds drivers that it is time to switch to winter tires, and ensure they are in good shape to withstand the rigours of the cold season. A tire with a tread that has worn too thin simply will not deliver the minimum performance required for safe driving in cold, snowy and icy conditions.

Tread carefully
CAA-Quebec's rule for ensuring a tire is in proper condition at the start of the season is that its tread must be at least five millimetres (or 6/32 of an inch) thick, to guarantee proper grip during the entire winter. To make sure, you can use a tread-depth gauge, have your tires inspected at a garage you trust, or use the "quarter trick." Take a quarter, with the elk side facing you, and stick it into one of the channels in the centre of the tire tread, with the elk's snout pointing downward. If you can't see the tip of the snout, then your tread is thick enough to last the season.

Choosing the right tires
Not all winter tires will deliver the same performance on a given vehicle. In reality, there are no "bad tires," only tires not properly suited for a specific situation. Considering that a driver must invest a fairly large amount of money—at least $500 for a standard-size, name-brand set of tires— the importance of choosing wisely should be immediately obvious. "Your driving habits, the conditions you'll be driving in most often, and the type of vehicle you drive are only some of the questions you need to consider before buying a new set of tires," advises Jesse Caron, an automotive researcher with CAA-Quebec. "Generally speaking, you get what you pay for."

Pictograph mandatory beginning in 2014
Starting December 15, 2014, all passenger-vehicle winter tires, including those for full-size pickup trucks, must bear the pictograph of a peaked mountain with a snowflake. "Although they have been authorized since the winter tire regulations came into force in 2008, tires designated LT (for Light Truck) will no longer be allowed after December 15, 2014, unless they have the pictograph or are equipped with studs," Mr. Caron explains, adding: "It's mainly users of LT tires who will have to comply, because the vast majority of winter tires for passenger vehicles already have the pictograph."

Planning to change tires at home? Be careful
Since many motorists do their own tire changes, it's important to remember that using the right tools is strongly recommended to avoid nasty surprises. Improper tightening, with too much force applied to the nuts, can result in bolt breakage, which in turn can cause the wheel to fly off. Using an adjustable torque wrench or pneumatic tools is a much wiser option. The correct manufacturer-recommended wheel-nut torque is found in the vehicle owner's manual.

Dates to keep in mind, and how to get tips from the pros
The requirement to equip a vehicle with winter tires is in effect from December 15 to March 15. Use of studded tires is authorized from October 15 to May 1. More detailed information is available in the On the Road section of CAA-Quebec members can also call the organization's Automotive Advisory Services if they have any questions related to tire changes. Is equipping a vehicle with four identical tires recommended practice? Of the four tires, should the pair in the best condition be installed on the front or the rear wheels? Is choosing smaller-diameter tires for winter a wise move? CAA-Quebec's specialists answer tens of thousands of questions like these every year.

About CAA-Quebec
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1,250,000 members.


For further information:

Philippe St-Pierre
Communications Advisor
418 624-2424, ext. 2418
Cell.: 418 580-1633

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