Safe winter driving doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of an attentive, skilled driver in control of a well-maintained vehicle that has been prepared for seasonal road conditions. Essential to that preparation is ensuring you have the right tires.
The Right Tires for Winter Driving
The right tires for winter driving are those that allow you the best traction and stopping ability on wet and/or icy surfaces. There is no one brand or type of tire that provides better traction or stopping on all vehicles. But, what all good winter-driving tires have in common are:
- Proper inflation
Your vehicle manufacturer posts the proper inflation specs on the inside of your driver-side door panel. Check your tire pressure to make sure all tires are inflated accordingly. If your tires are:
- Overinflated, you lose area in contact with the road, which reduces traction.
- Underinflated, you increase contact with the road. That sounds good because it seems like it would increase traction, but it really compromises your tire’s ability to channel water away, so it has the opposite effect.
assume that if your tire pressure was good when you checked it in September
that you’re good to go. Cold air contracts, resulting in reduced pressure
inside your tires, so you may need to add air since temperatures have dropped.
- Adequate tread
depth is crucial to road grip, water channeling and stopping distance. Your
tires are usually considered bald when there is 2/32” tread left. But to drive
safely on wet, icy roads, you need more than “not-bald” tires.
recommend having more than 4/32” tread depth. When doing a coin test, that’s
enough tread to cover part of Washington’s head on an upside-down quarter.
We would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention your tire options—all-season or snow tires. For city driving in a mild winter climate like Albuquerque’s, all-season tires will likely be fine. However, if you make frequent ski trips or excursions to the East Mountains where you are likely to encounter much more snow and ice, then snow tires may be a sound investment.
About Your Wheels…
Closely related to tread depth is the issue of tire wear, which is related to your wheels. If your tires show signs of uneven wear, then in addition to new tires, you should also have your wheel alignment and balance checked.