Tips for winter tire safety

November 14, 2013 12:00 AM

Many drivers around the U.S. are beginning to notice that things are a little cooler outside of their cars. As temperatures drop, snow flurries appear on the weather forecast and people begin bundling up before they go outdoors, motorists also have to start paying more attention to their cars. Going through the proper vehicle maintenance for winter is essential for staying safe and keeping an automobile operating at a high level. 

"Every aspect of a winter tire has been engineered to provide the best performance in winter conditions and temperature fluctuations while maintaining traction on any surface," said Mark Marrufo, who works at one of the world's largest tire retailers. "The winter tire advantage will maximize your safety and provide piece of mind during the winter months." 

Here are three tips that you should keep in mind with regard to dealing with tires in the colder months: 

Switch to winter tires
One of the easiest ways to improve a vehicle's function on the road is to switch from all-season tires to winter or snow tires. These can increase traction by 25 percent to 50 percent in the cold weather, which can be a major advantage for people traveling over slick or icy surfaces.

This change should be made once the thermometer hits 45 degrees, as the temperatures below that threshold start to affect tire pressure and traction, along with other elements of a vehicle. All four tires need to be changed as well. Switching only a few to winter tires could lead to uneven grip, which impacts how the car drives. 

Check pressure regularly
No matter what tires you have on your car, they need to be checked regularly throughout the winter. Take some time to examine the air pressure, and consult the owner's manual to see what the proper level should be. Always fill the wheels to this standard, as those that are over- or under-inflated may be unsafe. Not only can this lead to uneven traction and tread wear, but it could also reduce the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. 

Don't forget tire rotation
Installing winter tires and checking the air pressure is a good start for drivers who want to remain safe on the roads, but the maintenance doesn't end there. Motorists also need to pay attention to standard tire alignment and rotation. Tires should be rotated at least every 6,000 miles, which evens out the wear and tear they receive. 

Back to news