When your winter tires are half worn, how much longer will it take to stop at a slippery intersection? When you’re driving on all-seasons (3-seasons), will you be able to stay in your lane as you take an icy corner?
Kal Tire wanted to know just how tread wear impacts safety and performance in the winter, so we asked an independent tire testing team to find out. The results might surprise you—especially if you drive 3-seasons in the colder months.
The worn tire tests
Here’s how it was done.
Who: To ensure the most accurate, unbiased results, an independent and professional tire testing team conducted the tests.
Where: A handful of locations across BC chosen because they mirror the rugged, everyday conditions drivers face in Canada each winter.
What: The team tested the following types of tires:
- all-weather tire
- 3-season tire
- value winter tire
- premium winter tire
Each tire was chosen because it was indicative of that tire category, based on results from Kal’s Tire Testing new tire tests in 2015.
Each tire’s performance was evaluated in ice and snow cornering tests, and ice and snow braking tests at the following tread depths:
- Brand new – 12/32”
- 25 per cent worn – 9.5/32”
- 50 per cent worn – 7/32”
- 75 per cent worn – 4.5/32”
- 100 per cent worn – 2/32”
And here’s what the tire testers discovered…
The worn tire results & takeaways
1. A worn premium tire can outperform a new 3-season tire in certain conditions.
Here’s what happened in the ice braking test for the new 3-season and the 75 percent worn premium tire:
The 75 per cent worn premium tire at stopped nearly 3 metres sooner than the new 3-season! When it came to cornering, the 75 per cent worn premium tire held a corner 4.3 per cent better than the new 3-season.
“We’ve been saying for years that 3-season tires aren’t as safe during colder months as winter tires, but now we have proof that shows why it’s important to drive the best winter tire that you can,” says Carey Hull, director of retail products, Kal Tire.
“With a premium winter tire, you’ve got that much more chance of stopping in time and/or keeping your vehicle on the road, even if your winter tires are half worn, compared to the vehicle beside you in brand new 3-seasons.”
Takeaway #1: You’re compromising your safety when you drive 3-seasons in winter.
2. No two winter tires are the same. In every test and at every tread depth, the premium winter tire outperformed the value winter tire.
In the ice braking test, the 75 per cent worn premium winter tire stopped in 29.7 m; the 75 per cent worn value winter tire stopped in 32.5 m.
On snow, the 75 percent worn premium winter tire held a corner 26 percent better than the 75 percent worn value winter tire.
Takeaway #2: For superior and reliable winter braking and cornering performance—through the life a tire—don’t just buy a winter tire, buy the best winter tire you can.
3. Between 50 and 75 percent tire wear, braking performance declines significantly.
On ice, when the premium winter tire went from 50 to 75 per cent worn, it took an extra 3.1 m to brake. The value winter tire took an extra 4.8 m.
On snow, when the premium tire went from 50 to 75 percent worn, it took an extra 4.4 m to brake. The value winter tire took an extra 4.3 m to stop.
Takeaway #3: To improve stopping distance, replace your winter tires at or before they’re 50 percent worn (7/32”).
Transport Canada says tires worn close to 5/32” should not be used on snow-covered roads. Most tire manufacturers and the law in most provinces also support these standards for replacing tires. Not sure how to check tread depth? Read our post How Do You Measure Tread Depth on Your Tires?
Learn more about Kal’s Tire Testing on new and worn tires at www.kaltire.com/tire-testing.