Safe Winter Driving: Do you need snow tires?

December 28, 2011

Pick your tires like you pick your shoes.

Picture it. You wake up in the morning to six inches of snow on the ground. You know you have to walk a few blocks from the parking lot to your building today, so you decide to put on some boots to avoid slipping and falling on your way into the office. You made a smart decision….so why not make the same one for your vehicle?

Any technician can tell you that summer tires have little grip on snowy and icy roads. You wouldn’t wear your flip flops in February in Cleveland, would you? However, even all-weather tires can lose traction during cold, wet weather and might need to be replaced.

In order to grip the ground on snow-covered roads, tires should have a tread of 6/32nds or better. If your tread falls below 6/32nds, you may want consider purchasing tires with a better tread. To help make this easier, look for tires with the universal snow tire symbol (a snowflake on a mountain) on the side of the tire.

Snow tires that meet industry standards will display this logo.

If you’re thinking of using chains instead of purchasing new tires, be aware of the pros and cons. Chains are excellent for ice, but they just aren’t practical for most drivers.

Car mechanics recommend snow tires over chains because you cannot drive above 30 mph with chains. They can break off at high speeds and damage other parts of your vehicle. On top of that, they are difficult to put on in the snow. If you can install them in a dry area and you don’t intend to drive faster than 30 mph, chains might be a good choice for you.

Check your tread depth using the quarter test. If you determine you need new tires, then visit your favorite repair shop to help you choose the right tire for your vehicle.

How are you preparing for the winter weather? Let us know in the comments section below!