The English Speaker’s Guide to the 2016 NAF Winter Tire Test

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The results of the 2016 version of SSTC’s favorite winter tire test have been published.

All hail the reigning, defending, undisputed champion of the world: the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8!

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ContiIceContact Redux – The New Gislaved Nord Frost 200

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Swedish tire manufacturer Gislaved has released the latest generation of their Nord Frost tire line – the Nord Frost 200 – and it’s a familiar face.  As a division of Continental, they are using the tread design from Continental’s previous top winter tire, the ContiIceContact.

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Enderby, BC – The Gateway To A $121 Fine

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While vacationing in British Columbia last week, I made a slight detour along the way to check out the small city of Enderby, BC. I had read about the Sushwap River floats there and wanted to check out the scene.

As I drove into town, I decided to explore around before heading out over the bridge to the launch point. I eventually ended up on Cliff Avenue, the main drag. As I approached the intersection, I signaled to make a left turn and proceeded onto 97A after traffic cleared. I was immediately lit-up by an RCMP police cruiser. Continue reading

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How ABS Makes Bad Tires Worse

Swedish Brakes

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) have been common long enough that most drivers consider it an essential safety feature and have experienced its effects.  On dry pavement, the brake pedal hums as the vehicle comes to a quick and controlled stop.  On wet pavement, it vibrates a bit more but again brings the vehicle to a quick and controlled stop.  Yet in winter conditions, it can often seem like it’s working against you.  There are at least two situations where ABS can adversely affect winter braking performance.

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Quality Control: Don’t Accept Inferior Stud Installation

Terrible Stud Job

The best studded tires on the market today utilize advanced stud designs that are proprietary to their particular manufacturer, and are installed at the factory by machines to ensure perfect installation.  While there are many options for these advanced winter tires on the European market, the North American market is very limited, with only the Nokian Hakkapeliita, Gislaved Nord Frost, and Pirelli Ice Zero available; in a limited range of sizes.

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Studded Tires and Road Wear

Studded Tire Ruts

Studded tires dramatically increase road surface wear relative to studless tires.  So why are they allowed, and why would anyone promote their usage?

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British Columbia’s New Winter Tire Law: Why are All-Season Tires Allowed?

Starting October 1, 2015 drivers in British Columbia are required by law to use tires with a M+S (mud and snow) symbol or a Mountain-Snowflake symbol, with at least 3.5 mm tread depth, on most major highways across the province.  While I applaud this move as a positive step in the right direction for road safety, I question why the province decided to allow a less effective minimum M+S rating rather than going with only the Mountain-Snowflake rating.

Tires with the M+S symbol are more commonly known as all-season tires and the rating is based not on winter traction capabilities or performance testing but rather on tread void area.  As long as a tire tread has at least 25% of its tread area open as channels and some lateral grooves, it qualifies for the rating.  Because overall tread design and rubber compound are not factors, the M+S rating is more an indicator of resistance to hydroplaning than winter capability.  Some all-season tires are competent in winter conditions, while others perform very poorly.  But all carry the same M+S rating. Continue reading

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How to Drive in Deep Snow

F250 Snow

Every veteran Saskatchewan driver has been stuck in the snow at one point or another.  In some cases, it’s unavoidable, as the vehicle becomes hung up on a bed of deep snow.  In others, it’s simply a case of using inadequate tires or techniques.  So, the obvious first step is a set of winter tires with good tread depth.  With that out of the way, we can focus on technique.  Here are the most important things to remember when driving in deep snow: Continue reading

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Maximizing Studded Tire Life

Nokian Hakka 8 Hand

Like most things, a studded tire can be carelessly ruined in a very short period of time.  But with care, it can provide many years and many tens of thousands of kilometers of effective service.  To achieve the latter, the tire must be broken-in properly, rotated correctly, and driven in a reasonable manner. Continue reading

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Do Winter Tires Really Outperform All-Seasons on Cold Dry Roads?

Clear Winter Road

You’ve probably heard or read recommendations that winter tires be used even on dry or wet pavement at temperatures well above freezing, often around seven degrees Celsius.  This might sound strange to anyone who has driven many types of tires aggressively, and found winter tires to feel slippery and mushy even at temperatures far below that. This quote from The Globe and Mail article  When Should I Switch Over to Winter Tires is typical of what one might read:

“The rubber in all-season tires starts to harden – think hockey puck – when the temperature drops below 7C. The harder it gets, the less traction tires have.”

Does that mean that winter tires outperform all-season tires at those temperatures? Continue reading

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Studded Tires on Dry and Wet Pavement

Winter Road Natchez

A common concern for people considering a studded tire purchase relates to the performance on wet and dry pavement when there is no ice or snow.  It seems reasonable to assume that metal studs will decrease traction on both asphalt and concrete, and that assumption is correct.  Tire Rack testing showed that studding a tire will increase both wet and dry braking distances by about 5%.

So, a studded tire is slightly inferior on good roads compared to a studless version of itself.  Regardless, tires that are studless by design actually tend to perform more poorly in that situation than studded tires.  Continue reading

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The 2015 Norwegian Automobile Federation Winter Tire Test is Out!

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The 2015 edition of the world’s most comprehensive winter tire test has been published.

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 returns as the defending champion.  Continental brings an updated version of their second-place ContiIceContact – the ContiIceContact2 – to the table this year.  The rest of the top nine studded tires return as they were in 2014.  But that doesn’t mean the finishing order will remain static.  No tire can be the best at everything, so different ice, snow, and weather conditions will always result in slightly different finishing orders. Continue reading

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The Studless Tire Deception: Ice Temperature and Why Studless Tires Frequently Outperform Studded Tires in Tests

Icy Road

We’ve all seen North American tire tests where studless tires outperform studded tires in icy conditions.  How does that happen?

It’s all about the temperature of the ice.  When the ice is very cold, studs cannot dig into it.  The studs will scratch and chip the ice – improving the available traction for the next driver – but it’s the rubber compound and tread siping providing most of the grip, so studless winter tires have an advantage in those conditions.  But the advantage is relatively minor.  Tests showing studless tires to have a significant advantage usually involve the comparison of the best modern studless designs against a much older or cheaper studdable winter tire with harder rubber compounds and basic TSMI studs, performed on very cold ice.  Typically, ice temperature will not be specified at all in tire tests. Continue reading

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Gislaved Nord*Frost 100 with “Tristars” – Another Original Stud Design

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The Gislaved Nord*Frost 100 model is now available. This is a sweet looking tire with high tech tungsten carbide stud technology.  The “Tristar” is another unique stud design that should provide plenty of grip on icy roads and minimize hazard risks this winter for drivers in need of new rubber. Continue reading

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New Kumho WinterCraft ICE Wi31 Equipped with Quieter “Turbine Studs”

 

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Good news! Another factory studded option may be available in Canada. Kumho brings us the WinterCraft ICE Wi31 with “Turbine Studs”.

“An advanced new stud design gives the WinterCraft ICE Wi31 an exceptionally quiet hold on the ice and snow. The wide turbine studs provide excellent snow clearance, in a low profile design that cuts road noise dramatically.” Continue reading

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