Winter Tires: What, Why, & When?

 

Winter tires vs. the rest
If you live in Saskatchewan, alternating winter tires and three-seasons (formerly all-seasons) is vital.

Why Do I Need Winter Tires?

Why are winter tires important? Well, let’s start by talking about your summer tires. Summer tires are very firm. During the warmest months of the year, the heat of the pavement and the rubber, as well as the friction between the two, causes your tires to increase in elasticity. So, to maintain a good grip, your tires must be naturally stiff.

Inversely, cold temperatures causes rubber to contract. If you use summer tires, they will become even stiffer, reducing the amount of rubber in contact with the driving surface. Less contact means less grip. On the other hand, winter tires are naturally soft and are typically inflated to a lower pressure than their summer counterparts. Despite the cold temperatures, winter tires remain pliable, and give you more surface area in contact with the road. Subsequently, you get better grip (50% better than three-seasons), shorter stopping distances, and a decreased likelihood of sliding.

All-Weather Tires

All-weather tires are not the same as all-season tires. They’re best for urban areas that routinely see mild winter weather. Before you ask, a two-foot Saskatchewan blizzard is not mild winter weather. All-weather tires don’t perform very well on ice or snow packed snow. However, they are very competent for fresh, light snow; rain, and dry pavement. Consequently, all-weather tires have become popular tires for urbanites to use throughout the entire year. They are much more effective in winter than three-season tires. However, they will not outperform winter-specific tires.

When do I need winter tires?

Winter tires aren’t just for snow. They perform much better on dry pavement in cold temperatures, too. How cold? Well, according to the Canadian Tire and Rubber Association (which exists for reasons I can’t fathom), you should switch to winter tires when the temperature dips below 7℃. In Regina, the average temperature for September is about 11.6℃, dropping to 5.1℃ for October. So, if you want to maximize your grip on the road, and preserve the tread life of your all-weather or summer tires, put your winter tires on at the beginning of October.

Tire Storage

Once you have two sets of tires (possibly on two sets of wheels), you’re going to need somewhere to store them. If you have a shed or garage, you might end up lugging your tires back and forth twice a year. Or, you can use Capital GMC’s tire storage facility. When we change out your seasonal set we’ll put the other tires in our temperature-controlled storage. Once it’s time to switch back, we’ll have your tires waiting for you.

Conclusion

Basically, if you want the best traction and performance in winter, get winter tires. While it seems more expensive to buy two sets of tires, using one set during the improper season will cause it to prematurely wear. Alternating two sets of tires will save you money in the long run. However, if you refuse to get two sets of tires, remember to go with all-weather tires, not three-season (all-season).

 

The GMC Snow Tank

GMC Snow Tank in action.

Recently, Kia’s been running a commercial called “The Kia Chairlift.” The ad shows a Sportage driving some skiers up a relatively tame incline in place of a chairlift. Don’t get me wrong: that’s impressive. I’m reasonably sure my FWD would be alternately spinning itself into ruts and sliding into ravines. However, a Sportage can’t really be considered a terrain-conquering beast. And it certainly couldn’t make it to the top of the Flute Bowl.

What’s a Flute Bowl?

I’m glad you asked. The Flute Bowl is a remote area on Whistler Mountain not accessible by chairlift. To reach its peak, skiers need to walk nearly 45 minutes uphill. And nothing’s more fun than interrupting a day of skiing to haul your gear up a mountain like a 19th-century surveyor. Whistler Blackcomb was looking for a better solution, so they asked their partner GMC. GMC was already providing “a fleet of Professional Grade trucks and SUVs on the mountain,” but this task demanded something special.

All Mountain Sierra HD 2.0 (GMC Snow Tank)

The GMC All Mountain Sierra HD 2.0 (which I would have named the GMC Snow Tank) is nothing if not special. Based on the All-Terrain X, it has little trouble climbing even the steepest surfaces. A 6.6L Duramax Diesel with 910lb-ft of torque is just the beginning of its ridiculous spec sheet. The All-Mountain’s most obvious upgrades are the 18-inch 175 Series Mattracks that guarantee traction in the snow. To accommodate those triangular tank treads, GMC needed to install a 12-inch lift kit. But that’s not all. Other modifications include:

  • Fox Shocks
  • Winches
  • 360-Degree Lighting
  • Whistler Blackcomb Custom Wrap

The GMC Snow Tank also hangs on to the standard (“standard” in the sense the same way that Rolls Royce mixes real diamonds in their paint) features of GMC’s All-Terrain series. Those features include:

  • Underbody Shield
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • Black Sport Side Steps
  • All Terrain Grille Insert With Chrome Grille Surround

Check out the GMC Snow Tank in action below. And, visit our website to build your own Snow Tank.

Winter Maintenance Tips: Frozen Fluids

Winter maintenance tips: frozen fluids

Winter Maintenance

When it’s extremely cold outside, a cup of warm coffee can freeze in the air. I’ll admit that antifreeze is designed for slightly higher performance than a cup of Tim Hortons. But, at the same time, most vehicle fluids aren’t designed for Saskatchewan winters. Here are a few things you should know about fluids as you perform your winter maintenance:

Antifreeze

Its name can be a bit misleading because pure antifreeze only has a freezing point of about -8C°. The freezing point is only lowered by the addition of water. Most of the antifreeze you can purchase comes pre-mixed with water at a 50/50 ratio. That balance will be sufficient for most temperatures, except the extremes. During the coldest months, increasing the ratio of antifreeze to water (approximately 65/35) will lower the freezing point of your antifreeze dramatically while keeping the boiling point from dropping too low. Take note, however, that modern vehicles are calibrated to read their internal temperatures with a 50/50 blend.  

Winter-Blend Gasoline

You may not know it, but the gasoline you pump in June is different from the blend you pump in December. The difference hinges upon the Reid Vapor Pressure rating (RVP). The higher the RVP, the more easily the fuel evaporates. Summer blend gasoline has a lower RVP to prevent evaporation and decrease excessive pollution. Winter-blend fuel has a higher RVP so that enough gasoline can evaporate even in freezing temperatures. Fortunately, refineries take uncertainty out of the equation for consumers and supply winter-blend gasoline only during the appropriate months. So, this technically isn’t a winter maintenance tip, but it’s still good to know.

Oil Viscosity

For most drivers, remembering to have their oil changed regularly concludes their thoughts on the subject. They rarely consider the type of oil they’re using. Engine oils have a number of distinguishing features, but only viscosity is relevant to cold temperatures. Viscosity is the oil’s thickness, and different oils retain optimal viscosity at different temperatures. That’s why it’s important to pick the right oil for your climate. In the rating 5W-30, 5W is the winter rating (30 is the high-temperature rating), tested at 0°F. The lower the number before the W, the quicker oil will flow in your engine when it is cold.   

Bottom Line

Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding costly repairs down the road. No matter what time of year you need it, our service specialists are here not only to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape but to help you learn best practices when it comes to maintaining a healthy vehicle. Call us today at 1-866-789-3032 or better yet, come in and see us!