Although the blazing autumn colours make this one of the prettiest times of the year, we all know that they're a sign of tougher times ahead, climate-wise. It won't be long until that colourful palette gives way to a blanket of white – also pretty in its own way – but potentially treacherous for motorists.
The single most important purchase you can make to ensure safe driving this winter is a good set of winter tires.
Regardless of whether it’s a rear-wheel drive sports car, a front-wheel drive sedan or an all-wheel drive SUV, the most important safety feature of any vehicle is the contact patch – that rectangular section of rubber where the tire meets the road. Many people lull themselves into a false sense of security, believing that their vehicle's AWD system is infallible, so they skimp when it comes to buying tires.
Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com
All the technology in the world is no substitute for good grip – and only a genuine winter tire (bearing the industry-standard mountain snowflake) can provide sufficient grip when the temperature dips below zero.
"But," I can almost hear you saying, "I just bought a new set of all-season tires and they've got plenty of tread."
Time and time again, I've seen friends invest in expensive all-wheel drive SUVs or minivans loaded with the latest safety systems, thinking they've done everything they can to ensure their family's safety. And yet, they leave the all-season tires on, having been convinced by unscrupulous (or uneducated) sales people that one tire will suffice throughout the year. They blame the weather or road conditions for the resulting slides, mishaps – or worse.
After attending countless winter driving schools and tire demonstrations, driving identical vehicles equipped with both summer and winter tires on road courses and skid pads, I've experienced first-hand the vastly superior handling provided by good-quality winter tires. A front-wheel drive economy car shod with winter tires will out-stop and out-handle an all-wheel drive SUV in all-season tires every time.