Start the New Year Safely! Winter Tire Tips from Cooper Tire & Ask Patty
When the weather gets colder, our cars get more temperamental – but slow starts, frozen doors, and frosted glass isn't all you have to worry about as your family's Tire Super-Mom. Have you paid attention to those tires as the temperatures plummeted? If the answer is no, you're not alone – but fret not! Cooper Tire and AskPatty.com have joined forces once again to bring you important Winter Tire Safety Tips.
You know the basics from our Tire Super-Mom guide – and if you don't, go here for a refresher. Always make sure your tread is wearing evenly, check that pressure, and don't forget to air your spare. Winter, after all, is a magical time of year ... or is it? For many, winter temperatures and snow is enough to make a hermit out of the most adventurous. Yet, work, school, errands and life call us out of our warm abodes and, for those who drive, it's best to be aware of the importance of tire safety and maintenance, especially during the winter months. Why? Let's take a look.
Winter Air Pressure: Don't set it and forget it!
As we discussed earlier, proper tire pressure helps preserve the life of your tires, as well as helping to ensure your safety on the road. The correct inflation pressure is found on the vehicle's placard in the door frame. Here's something you may not know: For every 10 degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature, your tire's inflation pressure will drop by about 1 psi. So make sure to check that pressure at least once a month and before long trips. Also, make sure your tire's valve stems have caps. Moisture can freeze in the end of an open valve stem and allow air to leak out.
Check Those Tires!
Especially with the winter weather, sufficient tire tread depth is essential to help keep your car riding the road safely. Tire tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Be sure and measure across different areas of the tire, and note whether the tread depth measures evenly. An easy way to measure this is to place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire, with Lincoln’s head down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread that means there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread; if the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and it’s time to replace it. For winter weather driving, the more tread depth, the better.
To help you with this, tires have built in "tread wear indicators." These are narrow bars of smooth rubber that run across the tread. When the tread is even with the bars, it is worn down to the minimum level and must be replaced immediately. Being at or near tread wear indicators means tires will be less efficient in wet/snowy weather.
Before you head over the river and through the woods in rough winter conditions, be sure to pack your car with a family emergency kit. What should you include? Well, you can't get too complete, but here's a basic list: jumper cables, flares, blankets, non-perishable food (and a means to open it, if that means cans), gloves, boots, a flashlight, a cell phone, a first aid kit, an ice scraper, some rope, and a basic tool kit. You can purchase vehicle emergency kits at most automotive stores or department stores, or you can prepare your own as a family activity.
Resolve Tire Safety for the New Year
Driving in icy conditions requires constant attentiveness. Turn off the radio, silence cell phones, instruct family members to be quiet, and above all, slow down! Not driving fast to begin with will mean you won't need to use your brakes as often – and that means less of a chance you'll skid on any ice. Keep an extra eye out on bridges, overpasses, and intersections for so-called “black ice,” lay off the cruise control, and give yourself plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Also, don't be lulled into a false sense of security by four wheel drive. 4WD is great for driving in snowy roads and not getting yourself stuck, but once you start sliding on ice you're no better off than anyone else. So even if you have 4WD, drive slowly and brake gently.
Winter Tires for Your Family Vehicle
Winter tires are different from all-season tires. All-season tires are designed to perform in year-round weather, while winter tires, on the other hand, are specifically designed for driving in snowy and icy conditions. If you're driving a lot in winter weather, you would do well to consider a set. If you decide to install winter tires, make sure you switch all four tires, not just two! If you change just two, you'll have better traction with those two tires, but if the two older tires begin to slide while the newer tires hold their grip, you're not just sliding – you're spinning. If you must add only two winter tires – put them on the rear, not the front. But, remember, four winter tires are better, and they grip more evenly.
Cooper Tire has several products available to those in the market for winter tires this season: The Weather-Master WSC is designed for superior winter performance. This studdable and directional design along with the high silica tread compound is ideally suited for the toughest of all winter conditions. The Weather-Master S/T2 is Cooper's premium studdable winter passenger tire that fits a wide range of automobiles, old and new, foreign and domestic. And finally, the Discoverer M+S is Cooper’s premium studdable winter SUV/light truck tire.
Negotiating winter road conditions can be less of an adventure if you follow these winter driving tips.
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper) is the parent company of a global family of companies that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing, and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. Cooper has joint ventures, affiliates and subsidiaries that also specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. Cooper's headquarters is in Findlay, Ohio, with manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies, located in 11 countries around the world. For more information on Cooper, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.