Just by looking at winter tires, it’s easy to understand that the voids between the tread blocks will clear snow, compared to the small sipes on all-season tires, which are designed to handle water. What cannot be seen so plainly is how the rubber compound used in winter tires reacts to cold. Bottom line, they remain flexible in low temperatures, allowing them to grip more effectively and give your AWD a better winter driving experience.
Brack Driving Concepts recently held a high-performance driving school at Shannonville, and both Daniel Demaras and Chris Demaras attended. During the classroom portion of the day, the following video was shown (courtesy of Michelin). Three hockey pucks made of different tire rubber compounds are slid down an ice rink. The amount of grip winter tires still have is quite remarkable.
Just skip to 30 second mark if you’re impatient.
In Quebec, the law requires motorists to have winter tires on their vehicles between December 1st and March 15th or get hit with a $300 fine. They take winter seriously in la belle province. But in Ontario, switching over to winter tires is only a recommendation. Regardless of what the law says, smart drivers don’t need to be forced. They just put their winter tires and keep on motoring.