Winter tires are getting harder to find

Getting winter tires on your vehicle often gets left until last minute, especially with the recent bout of unseasonably warm temperatures, but if you haven’t gotten them yet you may want to as soon as possible for a number of reasons.

  • Nov. 19, 2008 3:00 p.m.

By Kim Hutchison

Staff Reporter:

Getting winter tires on your vehicle often gets left until last minute, especially with the recent bout of unseasonably warm temperatures, but if you haven’t gotten them yet you may want to as soon as possible for a number of reasons.

As of Dec. 15, all taxi and passenger vehicles registered and rented in the province of Quebec must be fully equipped with winter tires. Failure to abide by this new law will result in a fine ranging from $200 to $300. While it is a difficult law for police officers to enforce, its main purpose is to significantly reduce accident rates and save lives.

The province estimates that 10 per cent of its residents (roughly 500,000 people) currently rely on all season tires and will have to make the change. It is also estimated that this 10 per cent is involved in 38 per cent of the accidents on the road in the winter.

The new mandate combined with a steady increase in winter tire popularity and sales as motorists become better educated on their benefits, are factors in the order shortages at the majority of retail locations across the country. Replenishing stock has also become problematic because manufacturers simply don’t have any more stock to supply.

“I ordered early this year, but there are some sizes we can’t even get,” said Ponoka Integra Tire manager, Darryl Schnell.

“There is a shortage of popular winter tire sizes,” said Ponoka Fountain Tire manager Brian Adcock. “I tell people October is the best time to get them. That way you can maximize their usage,” he said.

But, if you can’t get the winter tires you want, don’t fret just yet.

“All-weather tires are the second best choice. They are a step above all-season and a step-below winter,” said Adcock. Even though these tires can provide safe performance, Adcock said winter tires are more efficient and provide more traction once temperatures start to fall.

Adcock also mentioned this week is tire smart week and emphasized the importance of taking other tire factors into consideration to promote safe driving. Key elements of proper tire maintenance should include measuring tire pressure monthly (under-inflation increases damage while decreasing fuel economy) monthly visual checks for tire wear and damage and regular tire rotation, balancing and alignment. Additional information can be obtained from Ponoka Fountain Tire or by visiting www.betiresmart.ca.

With Alberta’s notoriously high collision rates, can motorists of this province expect to follow in the footsteps of those on the roads of Quebec?

“Alberta Transportation recommends, like tire manufacturers and Transport

Canada, the use of four winter tires. In Alberta, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure their motor vehicle is properly equipped for the environmental conditions,” said Harry Parenteau, Vehicle Safety Engineer for Alberta Transportation. “Alberta does not have any specific legislation regarding the use of winter tires, nor are we considering any such legislation at this time. The department continually reviews vehicle safety issues, including the potential for mandatory winter tire use, however before any consideration for such change we would undertake a public stakeholder consultation,” he said.