Wheel of a tire

Tips for Selecting Tires for Winter Driving

Here are few feelings as frightening as losing control of your vehicle. In winter driving conditions, the chances of this happening increase. To stay safe on the road, it is important to select the right set of tires for your winter driving needs.

There are a number of different types of tires. Consider your location and winter weather conditions when choosing which will be right for you.

  • All-season tires—These tires may be adequate for areas where slippery roads are less common and temperatures typically remain above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • All-weather tires—These tires are an improved version of regular all-season tires that provide better traction and braking in snow. They are suitable for areas with modest winters and limited snow and ice, but will not provide as much safety in more severe conditions.
  • Winter tires—Also called snow tires, winter tires have large treads and deep grooves to assist with traction and braking. These tires should be subbed in during the winter in areas where slippery roads and freezing temperatures are common.
  • Studded tires—Winter tires with added metal studs provide effective safety in extremely icy conditions due to the studs helping to grip the road and even pierce the ice. Studded tires are not legal in all states due to the studs potentially damaging cement and asphalt. If you’re planning to use studded tires for your vehicle, check your local laws and have the studs installed by a professional.

The tires that you decide to equip your vehicle with during the winter are important, but, regardless of which you choose, there are also other steps to ensuring your safety. If using winter tires, make sure that you install a full set of four. Having unmatched tires can cause skidding or losing the ability to steer. Additionally, colder temperatures can cause tires to deflate and lead to other safety issues, so check your tire pressure on a regular basis. Properly inflated tires improve your gas mileage and can help to prevent unwanted blowouts. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes each month to maintain the life of your tires and to keep them working to their utmost potential. 

Is It Time to Replace Your Tires?
Here’s how to determine if you need to replace your tires:

  • If you look at your tread pattern and notice the beginnings of the tread wear bars starting to form between the treads or running across the tires, and then become flush with the tires’ tread, you should replace your tires.
  • Conduct the penny test by placing a penny upside down with Lincoln facing you in the center of the tread.
    • If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, replace your tires immediately.
    • If Lincoln’s hair is partially visible, start comparing tire prices, as you will need new ones soon.

Maintenance is Key
Use the following tips to help keep your tires in the best shape possible:

  • Check your air pressure once per month:
    • The correct air pressure for your vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual, on the gas tank lid, on the driver’s side door edge or on the doorpost.
    • The air pressure listed on the tire is NOT the correct air pressure; this is the maximum amount of air pressure that the tire can handle.
    • Tire pressure must be the same on the tires of each axle but may vary from the front to the rear axle.
    • Close valve caps to protect the valve from dust and dirt, and to prevent leaking.
  • Since tires do not wear evenly, perform the penny test at several points from the outside to the inside of the tires.
  •  Rotate your tires from the front to the rear in pairs. (Rotate your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, or as outlined in your owner’s manual.
  • If you drive a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, replace all four tires when it is recommended in your service manual.
  • Test and replace your tires at the same time.
  • Always keep your tires properly inflated.
  • Do not overload your vehicle; this can shorten the life of your tires.
  • Approach curbs with caution to avoid driving over them too fast or at a bad angle.
  • Avoid driving over potholes or debris, if possible.
  • Start and stop gradually.

If you notice that your tire wear is extremely uneven or that your tires have worn out much faster than you expected, visit a competent auto shop. They will check your suspension and make any necessary corrections before replacing your tires.


This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional advice. © 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.