Tips for driving around on BC roads this fall and winter.
Never take a chance when it comes to your safety, especially when Winter comes around and road conditions could be dangerous and unpredictable. Keeping your car in tip-top shape and following these precautions will ensure you stay safe this winter season.
1. Assess Your Winter Tires
Summer and all-season tires are designed to work in warmer climates. As temperatures drop, the rubber hardens and traction of these tires started to deteriorate. In contrast, Winter tires use different rubber compounds and tread designs that help these tires to gain grip and remain flexible as it gets colder .
Just how big a difference can a set of winter tires makes? Find out by watching this video by Vancouver local automotive journalist Zack Spencer:
As you can see, 7 degrees is the magic cross-over temperature when all-season tires and winter tires are at the same grip level. At 7º C, Vancouver hasn’t even even put on its winter coat, but it’s already time to change your tires. Keep in mind, Fall is also the best time to find deals on winter tires as many tire brands still offer cash rebates and sales on sets of four tires.
These aren’t just recommendations — did you know that all drivers in BC must obey winter tire and chain signs from October 1 to March 31? Be aware of and understand the conditions on the roads you regularly drive and be sure to equip your vehicle for those conditions. To know if you’re ready, check the side of your tires for at least one of these symbols:
The 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol
-These winter tires offer the best traction on snow and ice, and in cold weather. (Also known as mountain/snowflake or alpine.)
The mud and snow symbol
-These winter tires offer better traction than summer tires, however, they are less effective than 3-peaked mountain and snowflake tires on snow and ice, and in cold weather.
*BC accepts tires displaying the 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol OR the M+S (mud and snow) symbol, with at least 3.5 mm tread as winter tires. Some tire manufacturers choose to mark their tires with both designations.
2. Get an Inspection
A thorough inspection of your vehicle during the fall months is the best way to ensure you are able face the roads when the cold strikes. Don’t make the mistake of throwing on winter tires and thinking you’re ready to face the snow on the roads. Winter tires, while necessary, may not be enough and can give you a false sense of security. It’s also important to have your vehicle’s steering and braking systems tested. Another important and often overlooked part of your seasonal inspection should be the fluids (especially coolant and wiper fluids). Make sure the temperature tolerances of the fluids you’re using match the weather and are rated for winter conditions. We also highly recommend that you have your battery and charging system checked before you head out into sub-zero temperatures, because battery performance can vary widely.
- An inspection will not only keep your vehicle and it’s precious cargo safe, regular inspections preserve your investment’s value by extending vehicle life and helping avoid costly repairs down the road. This may all sound like a lot, but most qualified technicians and service centers can have you inspected and back on the road safe in under an hour.
3. Understand BC’s Winter Driving Requirements
Perhaps most importantly, understanding BC’s winter driving requirements is the best way to stay safe on the roads this season. Watch this video to learn what you need to know about driving in BC during winter conditions.
4. Winter Driving and Personal Safety Tips
Don’t forget it’s not just your vehicle, there are steps you can take to give you the best chance of staying safe this Fall and Winter.
- Keep a safe distance from the car in front. This is especially important when driving in snow and rain. It takes much longer to for your vehicle to stop in slippery situations. Always think ahead and prepare for an emergency stop.
- If you’re in an uncontrolled slide, steer in the direction of the slide. If you find your car sliding towards a curb or other cars, your first instinct may be to turn your steering wheel the opposite way. But that would be a mistake. The correct thing to do is steer in the same direction you are sliding, until you regain traction and can control of vehicle.
- Keep snow cleaning tools in your car and clean your windshield after a snowfall. A snow-brush and ice scraper 2 in 1 is a good bet. You should make sure to clean the snow off your car before you drive. It will give you better visibility and avoid ice or snow flying off and endangering others on the road.
- Always prepare for emergencies. Travelling during a harsh snowstorm is not recommended. But if you have to go, be prepared. Your roadside assistance number can be very handy in emergency situations. But it’s also a great idea to carry a first aid kit, candle and blankets. Likewise, hot drinks and snacks can make an unforeseen event more manageable.
In the end, nothing replaces common sense. Always drive with care. Slippery road conditions, reduced visibility and varying wet and snowy conditions are all unavoidable parts of BC driving. Give yourself the best the chance of staying safe by following these recommendations.
For more information visit the The Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure website here.
Check out Our Winter Service Special
We’re now offering our Winter Service Special that includes:
*Free multi-point visual inspection and brake inspection
*Discount pricing on winter tires