Adam Stewart of Coast Tire in Charlottetown is surrounded by their outlets stock of winter tires. Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
By Katherine Hunt
Retailers are encouraging drivers to buy winter tires early this season in case there's a shortage due to Quebec's new law making winter tires mandatory.
Many auto shops and tire retailers across the Maritimes order their tires from Quebec factories and though orders as much as 3,000 tires have been coming in so far, it's not expected to last.
Winter tires have already gone up in demand, says Ron Sobey of OK Tire in Charlottetown.
"They're very demanding," said Sobey. "Every new vehicle creates a new size and a new demand."
Quebec's new law, passed last December, requires all vehicles to have winter tires by Nov. 15 and keep them on until April 15.
It's expected to help lower the rate of accidents in Quebec because 38 per cent of winter accidents there last season involved vehicles without winter tires.
If there's a shortage of them in P.E.I. the alternative is all-season tires though they're not recommended, says Sobey.
"Once it goes below seven degrees Celsius, then all-seasons rubber becomes as hard as a hockey puck and you lose what you would have in the summer running up and down the roads."
Winter tires use a softer rubber, providing better grip on ice and snow whereas all-season tires are tough and are best used in summer conditions, not giving them a good performance in winter conditions, according to Wikipedia.
The lowest temperature in P.E.I. last December was -8.8 degrees Celsius and -14.9 degrees Celsius in January, according to tutiempo.net, a website of past weather forecasts around the world.
When the temperature drops, winter tires work even better, says Gary Villard of Coast Tire in Charlottetown.
"They perform better below seven degrees Celsius."
Though winter tires must be changed in the summer they can still be kept and placed back on for the next winter season.
"Depending on the treads they can last three, four or five years," said Villard.
Canadian Tire stores don't believe they'll be hit very hard by the shortage since it carries some in-store brands as well as brands sold other places.
A spokesperson for Canadian Tire said they ordered extra stock because they were told months ago about the decision in Quebec possibly creating shortages.
Coast Tire ordered 1,000 winter tires and OK Tire ordered 2,500.
OK Tire will continue their supply by ordering more as their stock gets sold and suggests motorists buy them while they still can.
"Buy them early and hope for the best," said Sobey.