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During winter, your vehicle's tires have to work harder to keep their grip on the snowy and slippery road. This is why the importance of winterizing your tires can't be stressed enough. To keep you and your passengers safe when driving during winter, here's a checklist of what you should do to prepare your tires for hazardous driving conditions:
Unlike regular and all-weather tires, snow tires are exclusively designed to handle rough driving conditions and below-freezing temperatures. Because these tires are designed with more sipes compared to ordinary tires, they can effectively increase traction on snowy and icy roads. Some winter tires even have metal studs to maximize road grip when driving on packed ice and snow. A snow tire may not completely prevent skidding, but it can definitely reduce your chances of getting into an accident.
Now if you just bought snow tires, you might be wondering if you also need to get a new set of wheels that are built to go with the winter tires. The advantage of doing this is that you'll be able to maximize the winter tires and get maximum traction. However, it could get expensive, and installation can be time consuming. The best choice depends on your budget and if you're willing to remove and re-install the wheels whenever you're attaching the snow tires.
Freezing temperatures can make tires less pliable, increasing the risk for air leaks. So be always one step ahead by checking each tire for signs of damage such as cracks or holes. If you have a spare tire, don't forget to also check this for signs of wear and tear.
Checking tire pressure every now and then is especially important during winter since every 10-degrees Fahrenheit drop, you could lose 1 PSI (pound per square inch) of pressure. Once your tires become underinflated, they lose that much needed traction.
To make sure your tires have enough pressure, take note of the temperature outside. If you're expecting or experiencing a serious drop in temperature, adjust the pressure according to the level recommended by your manufacturer.
When using winter tires isn't enough to keep your vehicle firmly on the road, you can attach snow chains. These devices are designed to provide maximum traction on roads with packed snow, keeping you safe during extremely rough driving conditions. However, using them can reduce fuel economy and the maximum speed limit. A vehicle with snow chains usually has a speed limit of 30 mph or around 50 km per hour.
When using chains, make sure they are tightly fastened. A loose chain can easily wrap around your vehicle's drive axle, making you more prone to accidents. If the chain doesn't seem to properly grip around the tire, it might not be the right type for your vehicle. Make sure you use the correct type of snow chain since a mismatch can easily cause tire failure.