The following are some basic tips you can follow this winter as you head out on the road.
1. Have the Proper Tires
It's important to take proper care of your tires during the winter months. In a season when road conditions can make stopping difficult, your tires serve as your first line of defense against sliding into an accident.
First, you should make sure that your vehicle has tires that are rated for all season driving. These tires have treads that are designed specifically to give you better traction in wet and snowy conditions. If your vehicle doesn't have all-season tires, you may want to consider purchasing a set. Alternatively, if you live in a particularly snowy area, you may want to invest in dedicated winter tires (formerly called snow tires).
2. Check Your Tire Pressure
Regularly checking your tire pressure is always a good idea, especially during the winter. When the temperature outside drops, the air inside your tire contracts, causing the pressure to drop. This drop in pressure only gets worse the colder it becomes, making your tires even more vulnerable to damage.
To find the correct cold inflation pressure level for your tires, check the label listed on your vehicle's door post, fuel door, glove box, or in the owners' manual. "Cold inflation pressure" is pressure in a tire that has not been driven for at least three hours. As you're driving, your tires begin to warm up. Once you've driven for several hours, it's normal for pressure to build up. You should always check for cold inflation pressure because it's never good to "bleed" or reduce air pressure when tires are hot.
3. Practice Safe Driving
At the end of the day, the best tires in the world won't make up for poor driving decisions. By practicing safe winter driving tips, your tires can do the job they were designed for and help keep you out of an accident.
Keep in mind the following when driving in adverse road conditions this winter:
- Avoid sudden movements in the car and accelerate gently through wet road conditions.
- Brake easy when stopping to avoid losing tire traction and spinning or sliding.
- If your car has anti-lock brakes and you go into a skid, apply steady pressure to the brakes and turn in the direction of the skid.
- If you get stuck in snow, DO NOT spin your tires as this can cause them to overheat and explode. Instead, rock your vehicle gently back and forth gently.