Are Your Tires Winter Ready?
Winter in West Michigan can feel seemingly endless and for those who need to commute to work, school or for errands, driving can at times go from difficult to extremely hard to navigate. But having the right tires in the right condition can make all the difference between getting you safely to your end destination or getting stuck and stranded. While it may feel inconvenient to take the time to look over your tires to evaluate their integrity, doing so now can save you time, money and frustration in the long run.
Tire Pressure – If you’re not a winter type of person, the dropping temperatures can affect your mood but for the air in your tires, it can cause the pressure inside to lower and create unsafe, underinflated tires. Despite hearing how driving on underinflated tires can lower your gas mileage the real problem during winter driving is how this tire pressure change can become extremely dangerous. Low tire pressure creates a wider driving surface on the tire than intended by the manufacturer, increasing the wear and tear to it in the process. Additionally, underinflated tires have far less traction than tires that are correctly inflated, making it more likely your vehicle will slide on icy, snowy roads. Best practice… check your tires often to make sure they are the correct PSI while temps are fluctuating in winter.
Treadwear – While you’re checking your tires air pressure, why not take the time to make sure you have enough treadwear left on it for optimal performance? Tread on tires must be a minimum of 2/32″ to comply with Michigan law but many argue that’s still too little to provide adequate traction and safety while driving, let alone during the winter. In fact, many tire experts recommend replacing your tires when they are below 5/32″, where traction is compromised in snow and ice.
Snow Tires – Not all tires are created equal and that couldn’t be truer for All Season and Winter Snow tires. All Season tires provide a relatively quiet, smooth ride with good tread life and year-round performance which makes them popular and ideal for many seasons but you might want to reconsider utilizing them during winter months when the conditions become more challenging. Unlike All-Season tires, which begin to harden and begin to lose traction with temps below 45°, Snow tires remain flexible in frigid temps, creating a better grip on the road. In addition, winter tires have deeper tread depths with unique designs intended to provide more traction on Grand Rapids’ roads which will be unpredictably covered in snow, rain and black ice. To prepare for the long, cold Michigan winter, you might consider swapping out those All-Season tires for Snow Tires.
Tire Rotations – It may seem like a big hassle but rotating your tires can not only keep you safer by helping reduce the risk of a tire failing but also helps extend the life of your tires by preventing uneven wear and aids in them wearing at the same rate. The type of vehicle you have will also impact how tires wear, with FWD vehicles front tires wearing quicker than the rear tires and RWD having the reverse. Most manufacturers recommend rotating tires as part of a vehicle’s routine maintenance and we recommend having the wear checked on your tires to see if it is uneven before heading into Winter.
Wheel Alignments – Would you be surprised to find out that wheel alignment is just as important as having winter tires? You might just be shocked to hear it but it’s true! Wheel alignment factors as an important role in maintaining your vehicles steering integrity and provides the most effective way to distribute your car’s weight. But if they are not aligned, it can cause your tires and other parts of your vehicle to take the brunt of the stress and cause things to break faster. While alignment is important if you are driving on All-Season tires, Snow tires can take an even bigger hit due to being created with softer materials. Do yourself, and your vehicle, a favor by getting your alignment checked.
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