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‘All Weather’ Tyres vs Snow Tyres for Use in BC

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I posted on here a while ago asking about car hire from Calgary airport – in particular whether cars from there would be likely to have tyres that are legal for use on snowy roads in BC. General advice from fellow Snowheads was that Calgary cars would be likely to have cars with tyres marked M&S (mud and snow) – as opposed to specialist snow tyres – and that these would be legal in BC.

Just to make sure, I have been trying to contact some airport car hire companies (no luck by phone so far, one response by e mail…) nd have had an e mail reply from Hertz. This advises that snow tyres (and snowchains) are not available for any of their their cars in the US and Canada - but that all vehicles are equipped with ‘all weather’ tyres.

Are all weather tyres the same as those marked M&S Puzzled
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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No. All weather tyres are rain tyres and will get you into a world of pain as tey are designed to shed water, where as mud and snow (which are snow tyres to you and I) are designed to have ice squeeze into the sypes (little crosscuts) and then freeze so that snow sticks to it. The snow that's frozen to the tyre sticks to the snow on the road and you get traction. All weather is possibly even worse than standard summer tyres...
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You need to call the car hire companies in BC, calling their offshore (Indian?) call centres from the UK is pointless. Those guys just lie. I believe that they changed the law in BC last season, and every care I've hired since then had M&S tyres, which are legal where you need them to be (Sea to Sky Highway, Duffy Lake Road, Coquihalla etc).

I don't know if Ab is the same, but it probably is. Get a local phone number and Skype Out to them to check... they'll put you at ease.
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At risk of contradicting @Casa Alfredino, I've got fitted some all weather Bridgestone tyres that you could not tell the difference from tread pattern alone that they are anything other than a pure winter tyre. Called "Bridgestone weather control A001" and many other tyre companies are doing similar products.
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@Casa Alfredino, ....now that's interesting...from the research which I have read there are quite a few mechanisms at work when a winter tyre grips, including the one which you have described - the 'snow gripping snow' mechanism. Winter tyres also have a much softer compound, which introduces much more flexibility into the tyre blocks, and so the sipes open and close much more as the tyre rotates, compared with summer tyres. This means that the block leading edges open on rotation, shedding the snow which builds up in the groves/sipes of the less compliant summer tyres. This is a another mechanism. In addition, some descriptions of the mechanisms talk of the melting of the snow under pressure from the tyres, which, combined with the flexing of the tyres, releases the captive snow. If it was all down to snow sticking to snow, then the tyres would build up a horrible mass of snow, combined with the flat tops of the blocks, to give no traction - in other words, exactly what happens to a summer tyre in the snow. So there is more to it than 'snow sticking to snow', I believe.
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Hey ski3 - I think the trouble is all weather in the UK (where I bought a set of 4 shortly before driving to Les Arcs, then discovering they were awful as they had no sipes at all) means different things. What you've linked to is clearly an m&s tyre, whereas what I'm thinking of is something like the uniroyal rainsport... it was a costly mistake!
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Valais - that's only what I've been told so don't quote me on it... I may have a vastly under developed understanding of it...
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Could be a mix up here with all weather and all season tyres. I've been thinking of some all season myself in case I ever want to go to the Alps but don't want full winter tyres.

The all season tyres should have an M&S marking making them legal for roads that require winter tyres. Like these:

http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2015-Auto-Express-All-Season-Tyre-Test.htm
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Yes I have Nokian Weatherproof tyres on my car. They are essentially a winter tyre but with year round ability, so 'all season' tyres rather than 'all weather'. I have now had the opportunity to drive in ice and snow with them and they haven't disappointed me at all.
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@queen bodecia, i have used Nokians for years. As you say, they only class them as all season because they get pretty decent performance out of them in the summer too.
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We used to have Goodyear Vector all season tyres on the family S-max and they were an excellent all season tyre, reduced aquaplaning in standing water, far better grip on snow (left a number of 4x4s behind) and lasted almost as long as summer tyres (20k instead of 22k),
Since we separated I have noticed that my ex has put some presumably cheaper winter tyres on a few months back and the fronts are already half worn.

I ran winter tyres on my Transit all year round, since getting a new van with summer tyres, it's really noticeable how poor the wet grip is at any time of year, I'll probably put winters on when they need replacing.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Scarpa, bloody excellent in the wet too and £59 per corner. At that price I don't even care too much if they don't reach 20k on the front.
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Ta for the responses.

Now had an email from Alamo. Like Hertz, they say Calgary vehicles have all weather tyres only and that snow tyres are not available from that location.

I'd best start ringing Calgary hire desks directly.... rolling eyes
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
SUCCESS! Very Happy

First call was to Dollar - who came up as cheapest prices on cheapest broker site (Atlas Choice):Winter tyres available on all levels of rental (at $20/day); not bookable online; simply tell them you want 'em when you arrive at the hire desk.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@mountainaddict, while my only worry would be that they don't actually have any cars with them on when you arrive we and chums have rented many times in BC in very snowy conditions with no problems.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Used to be a few years ago that you had to have proper winter tyres (they have a mountain and snowflake), m+s were not sufficient on mountain highways without chains.
That said I swap my m+s rated all seasons on my truck for my winter rated tyres every winter - there is a huge difference in cold/snow/ice traction.
Icbc (the bc car insurance provider) have some guidance that would seem to imply that should you not be using appropriate tyres, that may affect your liability in the event of an accident.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Note that all weather does not necessarily imply m+s. Was having a discussion with my neighbour as he said he had all weather tyres and when we checked they did not have m+s symbols.
I have managed to rent an suv from National in Kelowna with proper winter tyres, and whenever I've rented an Suv in n. America (Denver, San Fran, vancouver,...) it has had m+s tyres - might just have been lucky! snowHead
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mountainaddict wrote:
SUCCESS! Very Happy First call was to Dollar ...

It continues to amaze me how hire companies, airlines and others use "offshore" call centres and get the people there to tell lies to customers. It's sort of anti-customer-service.

My experience in BC is that since the law changed they only have legal cars (M&S tyres), that's in Kamloops and Vancouver. They didn't charge extra for them, that's all they have. Try to avoid hiring at the airport in the big cities as there's a surcharge. They will always try to get you to upgrade, but in BC at least they don't have tiny cars.
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To be clear, the law seems to have become _less_ strict about tyres. Pretty sure until a few years ago you had to have full on winter rated tyres or chains, now m+s will do too (which was not the case previously).
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Isn't the key that it must have a snowflake on the side. Then it is ok as a "all weather". Though a full snow tyre will be better in snow. @stuarth, If you are driving Hwy99 Whistler to Vancouver I guess an all weather snowflaked one would be better most times with a wet Vancouver day; even if you are giving a bit up in Whistler itself.
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Scarpa wrote:
@queen bodecia, i have used Nokians for years. As you say, they only class them as all season because they get pretty decent performance out of them in the summer too.

I have just managed to get some for Daughters car on your recommendation to replace Vredestein ones though they only had 2. £55 very reasonable and as you say 20k and I will be happy. 30 years ago I paid that nearly for Mini tyres.
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@mountainaddict, Are you driving from Calgary to BC ? If you are that is a tricky road and get the most winter type tyres you can get.
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The 97 to cache creek then the 99 to whistler via Lilooett and the fraiser river canyon and Pemberton now thats when you need snow tyres, and 4x4.
Theres no crash barrier!
Oh the joys of winter driving in bc.
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If you are driving in BC .. there is one particular black spot on the Trans Canada Highway you need to watch ...
Its about a mile east of Field (Between Lake Louise & Golden) going up from Field.

Its a slight slope on a single carriage way section ... but its a bridge.

I have actually witnessed a couple of spin out crashes at the same point and when I got out of our car to try and help the driver, it was even very difficult to walk on it.

Its a spot where black ice has to happen ... No tyre can be relied on there.

And the huge trucks that ride that highway will have little chance to stop for you.

Very gently does it.

You have been warned!
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Quote:
Are you driving from Calgary to BC ? If you are that is a tricky road and get the most winter type tyres you can get.
Yes - that's the plan, hence the initial query after the realisation that I will need to satisfy BC tyre laws.

We have hired from Canadian airports on 3 or 4 previous occasions; have been as far as Golden (from Calgary) on very snowy roads; but have only knowingly had snow tyres once - from Avis after an onward flight to Kelowna.

Our itinerary this time is a big loop from Calgary to Canmore or Banff; onward to Kimberley and Fernie; then via Pincher Creek and Okotoks back to Calgary.

The only fixed bit in terms of skiing is 3 days' catskiiing at Fernie Wilderness Adventures. Also planning on skiing somewhere round Banff; Kimberley; Fernie; plus possibly Castle Mtn and/or Nakiska.

In addition, we haven't ruled out a daft hour at Canada Olympic Park on the morning we fly home.
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Sounds like fantastic trip mountainaddict. Driving in BC and also AB is generally relatively easy even in winter conditions, they are very good to clearing roads and gritting/salting, add into that the fact they are very courteous drivers and the experience is usually good. Get the best tyres you can can then relax and enjoy it.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Cheers FFIRMIN - I've driven in the snow over there a fair bit as we've been a few times before. Can't wait for the skiing as conditions are looking pretty good Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Lucky you mountianaddict!! Wish I was going over there sooner than I am (not until April)
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You know it makes sense.
@mountainaddict, sorry to drag up an old thread but I have much the same questions ... Flying into Calgary and need to book a car for 19 day trip taking in Fernie, Nelson (Red, Whitewater), Revelstoke, Panorama (via Kicking Horse) and Lake Louise - so need to be on top of BC laws as well. Trip kicks off mid March next year with around 4 days planned at each place. The only thing booked so far are the flights, so we still have time to refine plans if need be.

Anyway, back to the car/tyres issue? What did you end up getting and what if you were to do it again how would you go about it? A few posts recommend a 4x4, which would be ideal, but when I browse the car hire brokers (holidayautos etc - massively better prices than dealing with Avis etc direct) I only see categories for SUV and these do not specifically state 4x4 - given the majority of UK SUVs are FWD only, is this also the case over there? Any tips on securing a 4x4? There's only 3 of us so a standard size SUV (RAV4) would be OK size wise, it's just the blinking tyres/4x4 I'm unsure of. thanks
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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No bother smithski! It all worked out very well in the end. After telephoning Dollar in advance, we just asked for snow tyres on arrival at their Calgary hire counter as they'd said. We ended up with tyres with a snowflake symbol - but didn't encounter any snowy roads as it happend wink....
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
smithski, Just done a similar trip again this past Feb/March. Hire from Calgary was an SUV. They are either 4x4 which will be unlikely unless lucky or have arranged it with them, or AWD which is standard stuff over there. These will be not be shod with winter tyres unless you specifically book them and pay the extra ( difficult but not impossible )

The SUV's will have all weather - M&S - tyres on which are fine in BC on an SUV. Its only when you have a 2WD car/ truck etc. that winter tyres are needed. you'll see signs along the routes stating this. Go for a standard SUV rather than an intermediate - luggage space so much better when road tripping, and they tend to be better equipped. We had a 7 seater for the two of us Smile and put 1900 miles on it in 18 days.

We didn't have any problems at all driving on them on snow covered roads, wintery conditions and temps around - 20 most of the time.

BTW you'll love Red and Whitewater - on that length of time you could hit Silver Star and Big White, possibly drop to Apex as well.

Happy pootling along here, on compact snow as its snowing and blowing around - think we were at about 80kph approx 50 mph. Yes that is a truck in front too Toofy Grin
On the way to Castle Mtn - epic day that was



Similar location, better vis obviously, but a little more wary on this one wink Its actually a dirt track road with ice underneath and deepish ditches either side
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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From Calgary you should have no problem getting at least S+M tyres on an SUV. If you want a ski rack you will have to preorder one. Or go for a bigger ford escape size SUV. We have often had roof bas but no ski rack so we take straps to attach the ski bags to the bars if needed. Last time just got a 7 seat SUV everything in the vehicle.
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@Bones,

I'd still go for winter tires if you can rather than M+S (I just swapped the winter tires off my truck today - the tires that have just gone on for summer are M+S rated - same for our Subaru).
Also if you go for an Escape, plan on having a rack. I did a road trip in the interior with the old style Escape, but not sure if you can get skis in the new one (maybe you can, I'll take a look at my friends, but still better to have them out of the passenger space imho).
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I'm slightly confused by this M&S versus Snow Tyres lark... Apologies.

I've had M&S tyres (with Mountain symbol) on my own car in the UK (Citroen Berlingo FWIW) for the past 3 winters & have driven twice to Austria for 3 weeks in January in 2 of those years.

I easily managed a ferociously steep climb on a (deeply) snow covered road in Berwang and had no problem anywhere else in the Tirol on snow covered roads. Overall, I thought the tyres performed exceptionally well.

Interestingly, our hire car in Geneva last winter also came with M&S tyres.

Are true winter tyres that much better than M&S? (Not just any tyres, but M&S tyres... wink )
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Update: I've just read this on a U.K website (ctyres.co.uk) which suggests that there are in fact different M+S tyres... with one of them (with the mountain symbol) in fact being a winter tyre:-

How can you recognise winter tyres?
Winter tyres contain the Alpine symbol as show in the image above.
There are two major differences between regular M+S rated tyres and M+S rated winter tyres features a different tread pattern of narrow slits and wider grooves at the very edges of the tread area that combine to offer a better grip on ice and snow.
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Here are the key definitions as far as I'm aware, but with the caveat that legal definitions may vary by country. The key things are (1) that it's impossible to make a tyre that's optimal at both ends of the spectrum - warm+dry vs cold+wet/snow, and (2) only winter tyres have any sort of industry/legal specification of what they have to be, in terms of compound and tread pattern.

M+S means 'mud and snow' and implies nothing whatsoever. There is no industry/legal definition of what an M+S tyre is. Originally, they were designed for agricultural vehicles e.g. a farmer's Land Rover and have chunky tread to handle mud. The snow word means absolutely nothing. In particular they have no guaranteed difference in rubber compound compared to anything else (they may well have a different compound, but they don't have to have anything different).

All weather and all season tyres as such are not defined or certified. Again, they may have compounds and tread designs that try and give a reasonable compromise at both ends of the spectrum, but there's no spec' as such.

Winter tyres have an industry certification against a particular specification and carry a 'mountain and snowflake' symbol. They used completely different rubber compounds compared to summer tyres, so that they remain supple at lower temperatures. They also have much more 'blocky' tread patterns and a higher proportion of small grooves, called 'sipes'. Both the compound and the sipe design make snow adhere to the surface of the tread, to give good snow-on-snow traction, but without accumulating too mch snow. To complicate things, there are a few brands of M+S tyre which are also proper Winter Tyres (carrying the'mountain and snowflake'). In recent years, it's also become common for 'all season' and 'all weather' tyres from mainstream manufacturers to also conform to the Winter Tyre spec, so they also have the 'mountain and snowflake' designation. However, this is always a matter of degree: an All-weather tyre which is also a Winter Tyre will never be as good in the winter as a 'proper' Winter Tyre.

Most car manufacturers Owner's Handbooks specify the size of tyre to be used for summers vs winters. For higher performance models, the width and diameter of a winter wheel+tyre will be less than a summer wheel+tyre. Narrower wheels and tyres are more resistant to aquaplaning (irrespective the tyre type). For a performance car, changing to the manufacturer's recommended winter setup often means (a) getting winter tyres and (b) getting lower-diameter and narrower wheels as well.

There's a very good explanation with a nice diagram illustrating the warm+dry vs cold+wet/snow dilemma at

http://www.babybmw.net/howtos/Winter%20Wheels%20Guide%202%20Series%20v2.pdf

I can recommend it as an outstanding discussion of these issues, mainly because I wrote it

Very Happy
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Just to second msej449, when I hired from Jasper (to return to Calgary) I specified Winter Tyres explicitly and got an SUV with tyres carrying the 'mountain and snowflake' symbol. However, there may be some local regulations meaning that the term M+S in Canada is synonymous with what we would call Winter Tyres here in Europe. This is something it's going to be important for the OP to get to the bottom of. There are lots of posts on skiing forums, discussing this in Europe as well as N.America, and complaining that someone in a call centre has confidently said "Yes, it'll have winter tyres." and on turning-up, the desk staff look blank and say these were never ordered. This seems to be a particular problem wnywhere where you're picking up in relatively benign locations (like Calgary, Denver, Milan etc.) and then end up trekking into the mountains like the Rockies or the Alps on some sort of all-season tyres, and/or without snow chains etc.
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The signs on the highway are clear and reflect precisely this:
http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/seasonal/winter-driving/winter-tires-and-chains/about-winter-tires
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Quote:
...there may be some local regulations meaning that the term M+S in Canada is synonymous with what we would call Winter Tyres here in Europe. This is something it's going to be important for the OP to get to the bottom of.

I've been back from the trip for 14 months LaForet wink. We got sorted with winter tyres.
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@smithski, did a similar trip to you, this season. Booked through Avis, and had to call the rental desk in Calgary, as their online system would not let me pre-book winter tyres. Definitely something you want to get sorted, in writing, before you travel. The chap in front had _not_ booked winter tyres, and was somewhat dismayed to be told by the clerk that whilst he was legal to drive round Alberta, he would not be legal in BC... and he'd hired an SUV. We hired a VW Passat, 2wd with winter tyres was fine. I found it was not the main roads that were the issue, but the side roads, which are not ploughed so often. ymmv.

p.s. everyone we talked to reckoned Revelstoke was the most snow-sure of the resorts, you may want to plan more time there; we missed it due to lack of time, but loved Fernie, and KH....
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