The only part of your vehicle that touches the road is the tires. They are the key to safe maneuverability, acceleration, braking and the sturdiness of your vehicle. In winter, taking extra precautions with your tires can help you stop on the ice, and keep you from getting stuck in a snow drift. Here are some general guidelines for winter tire safety.

Snow Tires

In winter, the more tread, the better. Snow tires have a softer rubber, making them more flexible to conform to the road in extremely cold conditions. Deeper tread depths improve handling and traction on ice and snow. In icy conditions, these treads will make stopping and turning during slippery conditions much more efficient.

When warmer weather arrives, you’ll need to remove those snow tires. Their squishy rubber makes them harder to maneuver on hot, dry pavement. Also, the warmer pavement will quickly wear down the tire’s softer tread. One way to make switching out your snow tires quick and inexpensive is to purchase wheels with the same diameter and bolt pattern as your current wheels, and simply have a tire dealer change the wheels.

Tread Depth

According to Tire Rack, tires are not legally worn out till they reach 2/32” of remaining tread. However, a partially worn set of tires can significantly diminish traction in the snow. Tire Rack recommends replacing tires when they reach 6/32” of remaining tread depth to ensure good mobility during winter driving.

Pressure Checks

Air pressure fluctuates with time and temperature, so now that we’re in the midst of colder temperatures, you’ll need to perform regular pressure checks to ensure your tires are at the right levels. Under-inflation puts too much stress on the tire, while over-inflation can cause uneven wear, and can also impact handling and braking. The correct pressure for your tires is in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. As Tire Rack explains, the more pliable design of snow tires means that the tires have reduced responsiveness. As a result, most tire manufacturers recommend a 3-5 psi to help offset the change in responsiveness.

Inspect your tires’ condition regularly

Michelin has created an online tool to guide you through a tire inspection. You’re looking for uneven tread-wear, foreign objects – such as rocks, nails that are stuck in the grooves. You’ll also be looking for any obvious signs of damage, including the valve caps.

Just in case an accident should occur, contact your Cole Harrison agent to review your auto policy to ensure you are protected with the right insurance coverage.

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