Tire dealers know the busy season has begun when the winter weather starts and customers are clamouring to make appointments for their winter tires. Whether customers are having old tires re-installed or purchasing a fresh set, it probably feels like the season is busier every year. That’s because it is. Thanks to new provincial legislation, greater awareness of drivers, education from industry associations and changing weather, winter tire usage is increasing across Canada. However, there’s still a number of Canadian drivers who don’t get the message. Tire dealerships need to know the facts to help their customers understand why winter tires are a necessity.
The good news about winter tires
The recent 2016 Winter Tire Report from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada has some interesting information on winter tire usage across the country. The good news is that winter tire use has almost doubled over the past decade. That huge increase is partially due to new legislation that has helped incentivize drivers to use winter tires. Quebec is leading the way with a mandatory winter tire law that was introduced across the province in 2008. As a result, tire dealers and garages in Montreal have to be prepared for the deluge of appointments after the first snowfall.
Other provinces have followed suit and taken action to encourage winter tire use. Just this year in Ontario, new legislation went into effect that provides a discount on auto insurance premiums for drivers using winter tires. British Columbia also enacted a law in 2016 that requires winter tires on specific highways and roads. While not all provinces have passed similar laws, many insurance companies do offer discounts to drivers who use winter tires voluntarily. In Manitoba, drivers can get low-interest loans from Manitoba Public Insurance through their Winter Tire Program from specified programs.
The bad news
There’s still much to be done in terms of educating drivers. A recent survey commissioned by LowestRates.ca shows that many drivers don’t take the time to inform their insurance provider to make sure they’re getting the discount they’re entitled to for installing winter tires. While the up to 5% savings might not feel like much, it can add up over the years. Plus, regular all-season tires will last longer with less wear and tear.
There are also the three in ten Canadians who feel winter tires are simply a ‘cash grab’ or aren’t that much better than all-season tires. This is especially true of the Millennial generation and of drivers in British Columbia, who usually experience mild winters.
Tips for tire dealers
While the trend of increased winter tire use is good, tire dealers may want to consider the following tips:
- Educate drivers about the difference in performance between winter tires and all-season tires when it is below 7 degrees Celsius.
- Educate drivers on what defines a winter tire and instruct them to look for the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol (also referred to as the Alpine symbol).
- Winter tires need to have proper air pressure to perform properly and prolong their life.
- Winter tires save lives and there are facts to prove it: after the mandatory winter tire laws were passed in Quebec, accidents were down 5%