(Family Features) Among the many daily necessities that tend to take a backseat during the cold days of winter, driving is one of a handful directly affected by the weather. From slick roads caused by ice and snow to cold temperatures that can wreak havoc on certain parts of vehicles, even a simple commute to work or school may become a more treacherous activity.
While staying home is the only surefire way to avoid the pitfalls brought on by winter’s chill, there are precautions you can take and ways you can enhance the safety and performance of your vehicle before hitting the road.
Perhaps the most productive way to protect yourself and your family is to make sure your tires are in a safe condition heading into winter. Consider these tips from the experts at Discount Tire to help ensure you’re winter ready.
Check Your Tread
Tread depth plays an important role in determining your vehicle’s safe stopping distance. A tire with low tread, for example, would likely lead to a vehicle with a shorter stopping distance than a tire with proper tread depth. Checking your own tread depth is relatively simple: Stick a penny upside-down in one of the grooves, and if President Lincoln’s entire head is visible, it’s time to replace your tires.
Ensure Proper Tire Pressure
The air inside your tires supports the weight of your car, and as outdoor temperatures drop, so does your tire pressure. In fact, for every 10-degree drop in ambient temperature, your tires lose about 1 pound of pressure. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle so you can always make sure each tire is filled to the manufacturer’s recommended inflation level (typically located in the instruction manual and on the inside of the driver-side door), or stop by a tire store, such as your local Discount Tire, for a free air check.
Rotate Tires Often
Standard recommendation is that tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles, or earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops. One easy way to remember is to have your tires rotated every other time you have your oil changed.
Invest in Winter Tires
At 45 F ambient temperature, you can begin to see your breath; this same temperature is when all-season tires can start to lose traction and grip, which is why winter tires are encouraged for cold-weather driving. As an essential safety feature, winter tires can deliver a 25-50% increase in traction over all-season tires, which could be the margin you need to brake in time to avoid trouble.
Because they’re designed to maintain better traction and gripping capabilities in colder conditions, winter tires provide more control than all-season tires in situations involving snow, ice and low temperatures. For example, in extreme cold, the tread rubber of an all-season or summer tire can stiffen and become less able to provide sufficient traction. In contrast, tread rubber compounds of winter tires are designed to remain flexible, allowing the tire to better grip the road with thousands of extra traction edges. Plus, the softer rubber of the tire surface allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain contact with the road.
To find more information or the closest tire store as you prepare for winter travel, visit discounttire.com.