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A third of Canadian drivers are less likely to buy winter tires due to costs of living: report

A new survey finds that one in three Canadian drivers are less likely to buy winter tires due to today's economic climate.

The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) said in its report Monday that the main reason drivers use winter tires is for safety. Even though many are aware of the benefits, 31 per cent are less likely to buy winter tires this year due to the high cost of living.

"Certainly, in this era of the high cost of living, winter tires are considered an expense by some," said Carol Hochu, president of TRAC.

TRAC's survey found that 67 per cent of Ontario drivers now use winter tires, which offer superior grip and shorter stopping distances. However, switching out two sets of rims and tires every spring and fall adds up, and drivers must also find a place to store them.

Despite the added costs, the survey found 85 per cent believe winter tires are an essential investment.

"The plain all-season tire will not perform so well once the temperature hits 7 degrees Celsius," Hochu said.

Consumer Reports just tested all-season, all-weather and winter tires and found that a dedicated winter tire is the best choice for grip and traction for winter driving. However, some all-weather tires have some of the same attributes as winter tires.

"In our testing, they absolutely work. They are not as superior as a winter tire, but they're better than an all-season and a notch below winter tires," said Ryan Pszczolkowski, tire expert with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports tested 50 sets of tires and, for winter tires, rated the Bridgestone Blizzak highest, followed by the Michelin X-Ice Snow and the Continental VikingContact 7.

Winter tires are now mandatory in Quebec and on most routes in British Columbia.

Through Leger's online panel, TRAC surveyed 1,521 Canadian drivers between Oct. 20 and 22. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20. 

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