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Tips from the Pros on Winter Tires and Cold Weather Driving

Tips from the Pros on Winter Tires and Cold Weather Driving

Our milder Vancouver climate lets us hang on to those sunny summer memories a little longer when compared to the rest of Canada. Preparing your BMW for the winter season may not be at the top of your mind at the moment, but if you’re planning on travelling to the Interior or even hitting the local slopes, you won’t get too far without winter tires on. To help you ease into winterizing your BMW, we have answers to some common questions surrounding winter tires. 


1. If I'm mainly driving in Vancouver, do I necessarily need winter tires? Or do all-season tires cover winter driving?


The Ministry of Transportation notes that due to a more temperate climate in the Lower Mainland, drivers are not required to use winter tires unless they are travelling outside of that area. As of October 1st, winter tires are required for select mountain passes/routes/highways and high snowfall areas such as the Coquihalla and Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99 heading to Squamish and Whistler). You can read more about the designated routes requiring winter tires on the BC Government website, here


The main difference between winter tires and all-season tires is that all-season tires lose a significant amount of traction at about 7 degrees. By 3 degrees, they are significantly degraded in their ability to grip in wet or dry conditions. Depending on where and when you want to travel, and what mother nature has in store, you will want to keep all your options open and be prepared.


2. Are all winter tires made equal? What are some things to look out for if I want a quality set?


A truly dedicated winter tire will have the “snowflake symbol” indicating that it meets the severe service standard. Which means it can handle snowy and slippery roads at low temperatures and meets the minimum requirements for providing snow traction.


Remember that not all winter tires are created equal as many higher-end name brand tires generally use better compounds and materials. BMW carefully selects each winter tire to match the performance and characteristics of all their models, so you’ll be ready to brave the first snowfall with complete confidence.



3. What about tire pressure? How does tire pressure affect the performance of my tires in the Winter?


Once the weather cools, your car may begin signalling to you that your tire pressure is low. This is because the temperature outside has a direct impact on tire pressure. When the temperature is high, the air in your tires takes up more volume, but when the temperature is cold, the air takes up less volume. Therefore, the computer in your car believes that your tires are low on air when the temperature goes down drastically. The inflation pressure in tires generally drops 2 psi for every 10 degrees of temperature decrease. Hence, it is very important to check your tire pressure on a weekly basis.


4. I always hear about chains. What are those and is it necessary when I have great winter tires on?


Snow chains are chains that are fitted to the tires to allow for maximum traction when driving through the ice and snow. But, chains are not recommended for BMW models as BMW recommends winter tires instead.


5. I want to buy a set of dedicated winter tires, but storage of my current tires is an issue. What do you recommend? 


Rest assured that if you do require storage for your newly purchased winter tire set we can certainly help you out with that! Here at Auto West BMW, we offer a storage program for $105.00 plus taxes (per 6 month season). It includes the cleaning of your winter or summer tire set and 6 months of storage in a dry and temperature-controlled environment.


6. Why do I need winter tires? My car has all-wheel drive.


Ever see a dog trying to run on a patch of ice? He’s got the power to all four paws, but he’s not going anywhere.  All-wheel drive can’t do much if you don't have traction. Remember that along with going, you also need to be able to stop. All-wheel drive systems don't brake any faster than front-wheel drive vehicles, and winter tires do a much better job at stopping than all-seasons do.


Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter, our factory trained BMW Technicians and specialized Service and Parts staff know what’s best for your BMW. At Auto West BMW you will not only receive honest and professional service, but your BMW will get the attention and care it deserves.


To book your next service appointment, simply book your appointment online or give us a call at 604-303-8000. Our friendly staff is here to help answer any questions that you may have.

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