Winter Tire Safety Tips Help Prevent Flying Wheels

As temperatures plummet with the onset of winter bringing snowy or icy conditions along our roadways, the experts at Transport Canada strongly suggest installing a proper set of winter tires for safe winter driving. They state that winter tires are better than all-season tires when motorists drive their vehicles during the frigid winter months. While this may sound reasonable to most, only Quebec passed a law in 2008 making it mandatory for drivers to have winter tires installed on their cars between Dec. 15 and March 15 every year.

winter tiresWinter tires are different than all-season tires because they feature a combination of specialized tread designs and compounds. They provide more effective traction during the typical Canadian winter of blistering cold and snowy conditions. You can recognize winter tires by the pictograph of a peaked mountain with the symbol of a snowflake. This emblem indicates that your tires meet specific snow traction performance requirements for cold, snowy, icy and slippery driving conditions.

Winter Tire Tips:

• Always install four winter tires.
• Make sure all of the tires have the same tread pattern and size
• Check your tires regularly for wear to avoid lesser traction on ice and snow
• Monitor tire pressure in colder weather since it drops, affecting safety and fuel consumption.

The performance of winter tires is directly related to the outside temperature, and when outdoor temperature falls below or climbs above -7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees F) your tires will be affected. As the temperature drops, non-winter tires loose elasticity and the grip they have on the road. That’s why the best tires to have on your car when the temperature drops are winter tires. Conversely, winter tires will deteriorate faster in hotter temperatures.

Proper Installation-Prevent Flying Wheels:

Having winter tires installed on your vehicle is only part of the suggested precautions for winter driving. The other side of the coin is that proper installation is critical for your safety as we have seen reported in the news just recently. According to Inside, police are warning owners to have their winter tires installed by professionals because improperly installed wheels can fly off cars down the highway.

OPP statistics show that in any given week, approximately three wheels come off vehicles driving on Greater Toronto and Hamilton area highways. The statistics also show that across the province that number increases to somewhere between 15 and 20 wheels each week. An example of the dangers of this happening just occurred on Hwy 403 when a tractor-trailer caused a series of collisions that resulted from two wheels flying off. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, but for a 20-year-old Stoney Creek woman this type of mishap proved deadly when a tire from a pickup truck flew over a centre median and slammed into her car in 2012. She later died in hospital.

You might think that tractor trailers are the most prevalent culprits for this mishap, when in fact OPP spokesperson Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says personal cars are more to blame for wheel-off incidents. The explanation for why flying-off wheels occur more often with personal cars is that, unlike personal cars, truck drivers have a stick daily inspection and year-round requirement to ensure their vehicles and wheels are safe. Some transport companies insist that their drivers re-torque (re-tighten) the wheel nut 150 kilometres after a tire change.

Therefore, motorists should also double-check their tires and wheel fasteners after any change, regardless if it’s after snow tires are installed, taken off and replaced in the spring, or a flat has been swapped with a new tire. Just like big trucks, new wheels on personal cars may take a bit of travel time to settle in which is the most vulnerable time for them to come off, so be extra vigilant when they are installed to be certain that they’re secured safely.