Winter may not officially be here until December 21, but the preparations for cold weather have already begun. Although some areas still haven’t seen snowfall, the recent drop in temperatures have brought out the warm jackets, hats, and gloves.
While most of us have made sure that we will be comfortable this season, how many have made sure that they will stay safe in the cold, icy conditions?
Road safety is among the most important issues when the fluffy white stuff hits the ground, and while some people think they are prepared, the truth is, the majority probably aren’t.
I recently attended a winter driving session hosted by Canadian Tire to test my driving skills in extreme weather conditions like those we experience in Canada. Along with a showcase of useful products to make winter driving and safety easier, the highlight of the day was testing the limits of all-season tires, compared to Goodyear’s Nordic Winter tires in a local arena.
While driving on an ice rink may sound a tad ridiculous, if you’ve ever walked the streets in the middle of winter you know the similarities. The Canadian Tire group ensured the temperature of the ice reflected what many of us experience on the road, and the results were more than eye-opening.
The fact is, all-season tires are not actually meant for every season. I knew this prior to attending the session, but most people are under the impression that their tires will carry them safely through winter. The tread patterns on all season tires aren’t made to deal with the heavy build-up of snow and ice, and in extreme cold, the rubber compound hardens, reducing grip even further.
During our tests, the Goodyear Nordic Winter beat the brand-new all-season tire handily in starts, stops, and turns at speed. While some of the tests were done at a fraction of road speeds, it would have been frightening to complete them in the all-seasons. The Goodyear Nordic Winter was also developed jointly with Canadian Tire, and with the V-Tred Technology they stopped almost four feet shorter in every test. I was very impressed with their bite in the icy conditions, and rather than sliding everywhere, I felt much more planted on the ground.
During icy conditions, visibility is equally important. While most OEM wiper blades still consist of metal construction with moving parts and plenty of spaces for ice to form, the Reflex Ice wiper blades are a great, one-piece alternative that work the same regardless of ice buildup. The specially engineered rubber works down to -40 degrees, and paired with an all-season washer fluid like Rain-X, your windshield will stay clean and ice-free.
If you intend on doing a lot of travelling this season, a roadside safety kit is always a good option as well. Complete with a shovel, jumper cables, snow brush, flashlight and first-aid kit, Canadian Tire sells a version that also includes a free one-year membership to their 24/7 roadside assistance program. That includes everything from boosts, fuel, tires, towing, and even lock-out service.
Cold weather also has a tendency to reduce your battery’s startup power, and Stanley offers a neat Simple-Start battery charger that works by plugging it into your cigarette lighter – no hood-popping required. It also fits in your glove box and holds a charge up to one year.
Canadian winters are always unpredictable, and to ensure a safe and hassle-free driving experience, it’s always good to be well-equipped. Winter tires are just the start, but are the best option to keep your winter driving experience less eventful. My winter driving knowledge was reinforced after testing the newest products at the Canadian Tire event, and although I’m still waiting for the snow to fall, I’m glad I already have my winter tires on.
- Jordan Lenssen