It’s What All The Cool Kids Are Doing: The 7 Degree Switch

Years ago, buckle-up campaigns helped get motorists in the habit of wearing seat belts every time they’re in a vehicle (I can’t imagine not wearing one now, but apparently it was common place not to at one point, wow!) Most recently we’ve seen a huge push to get drivers to put down their (*#$!^) cell phone behind the wheel, something that I’ve spoken about many times and a huge pet peeve of mine. Hopefully, dropping your phone in your purse or console will be as common-place as clicking a seat belt thanks to the campaign.

Now, Kal Tire has launched a new campaign to alert drivers on when they should be making the switch to winter tires. Do you have a set predictor of when you do it? After the first snowfall like so many do? Or is it a date on the calendar? Both those methods are not the best plan, it turns out.

The 7 Degree Switch campaign hopes to get drivers to heed the message of Canadian pro race car driver Amber Balcaen and switch to winter tires at +7C—the point at which all-season tires begin to lose traction. Amber recently visited the Kal Tire location here in Regina, and we had a chat about why winter tires are essential for driving in Canada.

“As a professional driver, I know my experience can only get me so far, especially in rough and unpredictable winter conditions off the track. It’s my tires that let my vehicle stick to the road and brake in time,” says Amber Balcaen. In 2016, she became the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR- sanctioned race in the US and has since won another in 2017. She is a spokesperson for Kal Tire’s ‘7 Degree Switch’ campaign, which likens the dangers of driving on all-season tires in winter conditions to driving while texting or without wearing a seat belt. “Having grown up in Winnipeg and experienced the worst of Canadian winters, I know what happens when you’ve got the wrong tires in winter, so we’re saying, ‘Don’t be that guy!’”

While those in the tire industry have long understood all-seasons can’t perform well below +7C, which is why Kal Tire has named them 3-season tires, Kal Tire is hoping that fact becomes common knowledge for drivers. To provide proof, Kal Tire has invested in extensive independent tire testing to evaluate the performance of both new and worn 3-season, all-weather and winter tires in Canadian winter conditions. The evidence has been both surprising and significant: from 50 km/h, passenger winter tires stopped over 6 metres shorter on loose snow than 3-season tires and nearly 9 m shorter on icy conditions at 30 km/h.

Ask yourself if 6 metres and 9 metres makes a difference in your child’s school zone, and it’s a no-brainer that winter tires are essential for responsible winter driving.

The data above shows the months from October to April where the temperature didn’t hit 7 degrees Celcius here in Regina, which is a very clear picture on when we should really be switching to winter tires. That means that if you haven’t switched to winter tires yet here in October, you’re already not reaping the benefits of having them on your vehicle.

Three-season tires (let’s stop calling them all-season tires, shall we?) contain less natural rubber, so they stiffen once temperatures are consistently below +7C. Winter tires, on the other hand, stay flexible for optimal grip and braking at temperatures below +7C, and all-weather tires, which bear the severe service winter tire symbol, are made with a special compound to stay flexible above and below +7C, giving drivers in mild and urban regions a safe year-round alternative. According to Transport Canada, “At temperatures below +7C, all-season and summer tires begin to lose elasticity, resulting in reduced traction.”

I shared with Amber and the team at Kal Tire that, since I have become a mom, winter tires have been a necessity on my vehicles. Like all other safety aspects – seat belts, car seats, ensuring our vehicles come with all the safety features we want, winter tires is part of that formula. We simply will not go without.

What about you? Are winter tires a must for your family or have you been reluctant to get them, perhaps thinking that “all season” tires meant you were covered? Does the new campaign from Kal Tire, the 7 Degree Switch, make you consider either putting on our winter tires earlier OR for some of you, considering winter tires for the first time?




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  • I’m good with my all-season tires. Have never used winter tires, and have never had an accident in winter. You just need to adjust your driving accordingly to the weather.

  • We live in northern Ontario, so snow tires are a must. We always switch to winter tires at this time of year.

  • Winter tires are so important in our Canadian winters. I drove a few winters without snow tires and you can sure feel a difference with snow tires on. So much safer!

  • Snow tire are a must. Got an appointment set up for the second week in November. I have learned from previous years not to leave it. When that snow comes it is hard to get an appointment. Could take up to 2 weeks.

  • Winter tires went on the van today! Let me just add they are studded as well. We will soon be caught up in a winter wonderland and I liked to be prepared before the snow falls. Living in the north has taught me the value of winter and studded winter tires.

  • I always have winter tires put on my car, it’s just not worth the risk of an accident and is definitely much safer. I was surprised that a lot of people don’t seem to know that winter tires are needed as soon as the temperature drops below 7C. We get a lot of snow and ice here and you can always tell who has summer tires on their cars, or believes that a 4WD prevents an accident, after speeding along they are often found in the ditch.
    In Germany it is now the law to have the correct tires for the road conditions on your vehicle. If you have an accident on snowy/icy roads and do not have winter tires on you are automatically to blame.

  • We’ve been driving with all season tires on our current vehicle for several years, but after reading about the benefits of snow tires, looking into buying them.

  • winter tires are totally important especially with my little ones in the car! We have winter tires for our car but not for our SUV …. yet!! definitely going to for sure this year

  • I’ve never used winter tires but I also have a van and I live in southern Ontario which probably isn’t as bad as other places in Canada like Alberta and Saskatchewan because I know they get absolute frigid temperatures with the snow.

  • Absolutely essential to have Winter Tires ! I do not agree that all season are enough . There is no price to be put on safety.The Kal Tire campaign is great > We owe it to ourselves and others not to skimp on safety on the roads for everyones sake .

  • For years we just went with All Season Tires but in the last few years we have done the switch to winter tires and it does make a difference. Safety is #1 in the car!

  • My husband has winter tires for all of our cars, so at the end of Oct or the beginning of November he changes the tires over and it sure does help with winter driving!

  • I spent a lot of years in the GTA where most people do not have winter tires. However, a few years ago, at my mother’s urging, I decided to get winter tires, and I’ve been using them ever since.. I know about the 7 degrees rule and that’s what I usually follow.

  • Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, when I look at gas prices!), I don’t have a car so this does not apply to me. However, I have many drivers in my life who swear by their winter tires!

  • We use winter tires (discount on car insurance) because it’s much safer. I’m getting new ones when they go on sale.

  • We will be putting on our winter tires in the next few weeks,having proper tires for the winter helps keep everyone safe!

  • We have lots of snow here in NW Ontario, and typically have an earlier start to winter, so we use winter tire with studs for 6 months of the year.

  • I don’t own a car here for this very reason! Driving in the snow and ice terrifies me and I can thankfully avoid the winter tires issue!

  • I, unfortunately, haven’t switched to winter tires because of the cost. Living in MB, I KNOW I should be investing in them as we get horrid winters and I KNOW the tires do make a world of difference for driving…

  • after growing up in northern ontario, winter tires are always a must. with young kids, safety is my number one priority when it comes to our vehicle, so winter tires are the only option for us when it comes to winter driving. they should be mandatory in the appropriate areas. this campaign has reaffirmed for us the value of what we have been doing.

  • Winter tires on the long cold prairie winters are a MUST! We have tons and tons of snow, slipper road ways & a wrong move can spell disaster. Hubby insisted winter tires are a must & I agree

  • Some people I know are still convinced that all-season tires are fine for Canadian winters! I totally disagree & it’s a dangerous risk. Get those winter tires! It could save a life one day.

  • We don’t get a lot of snow here in Vancouver but nonetheless winter tires a must for my family, even if I have 4 season tires! It gives me a peace of mind that I am keeping my family and others safe with my driving!

  • For years I had only all season tires on my vehicles but after having problems one winter with them I switched, and absolutely think now that they are really worth having. They definitely make winter driving safer.