Get into the groove: Check your tires for winter

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Winter temperatures have moved into Michigan, and although the snow has mostly been absent, it is inevitable that one of those arctic squalls will once again roll into mid-Michigan, bringing with it inches (or feet) of winter precipitation.

Of all the equipment needed to handle winter weather, perhaps the most important are tires that can get you from point A to point B without slipping and sliding.

Forty-one percent of all weather-related car crashes on U.S. roads are due to conditions involving snow, sleet, ice and slush, according to Consumer Reports. Even if you have an all-wheel-drive vehicle, that feature will not be helpful when braking or steering.

Consumer Reports noted that its evaluations conclusively demonstrated that using winter tires matters more than having all-wheel drive in many situations, and the difference on snow and ice is significant.

So, what exactly is a snow tire? The rubber of a snow tire is able to remain softer, which makes it more flexible, allowing the tire to conform to the road better in extremely cold conditions, according to Bridgestone Tires. Along with deeper tread depths and special tread designs, snow/winter tires are made to tackle inclement winter weather and extreme cold driving conditions.

Even if you choose to keep your all-weather tires on your vehicle during the winter, you want to ensure your tread has not worn away and make them ineffective in snow and ice.

If snow-covered roads are a concern, you should consider replacing your tires when they reach approximately 5/32 of an inch of remaining tread depth to maintain good mobility, according to Tire Rack.

Ideally a tire tread depth gauge would be used to determine if treads are sufficient to be effective, but in absence of that, Tire Rack said coins will suffice.

  • Place a penny head-side out and upside-down into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining.
  • Place a quarter head-side out and upside-down into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Washington’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining.
  • Place the tail-side of a penny upside-down into several tread grooves across the tire. If the top of the Lincoln Memorial is always covered by the tread, you have more than 6/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining.

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Tags: snow tires, tires, winter tire check, winter tires

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