Whether we are in denial about the end of summer, or just busy thinking about a million other things, most of us don’t give any thought to winter tires until the first snow or ice hits. At that point, everyone is thinking about them, panic ensues, and winter tires, like shovels, suddenly become very difficult to find.
If you are in need of new winter tires, fall is the time to shop for and buy them. Retailers begin to stock the newest models of winter tires in the fall, so you will have the best selection from which to choose. If your tire retailer does not have the tires you want in the size you need, you can typically order them, and your retailer will install them, at your convenience, before the winter weather strikes.
Since winter tires are usually manufactured during the previous summer, quantities are most often limited. If you put off shopping for your winter tires too long, you may not get the tires or the price you want.
Not sure if you need winter tires? Consider the weather in your region. Do you often drive in snowy or icy conditions? In the winter time, do you find yourself waiting to leave until the roads in your area have been cleared? If so, then winter tires probably make sense for you. Winter tires offer superior grip when driving, stopping, and cornering. Winter tires do have the drawback of faster tread wear than all-season tires. This is because the tread is designed to bite into snow and ice, and the softer rubber is formulated to stay pliable at freezing temperatures. As long as you change back to your all-season tires in the spring, your investment should last for several seasons.
When shopping for winter tires, note that they have a mountain/snowflake symbol on the sidewall. It assures you that they passed an industry test for severe snow use.
Tires are a serious investment. Not only in terms of what you pay for them, but also in light of what you have riding on them. Of your vehicle’s many components, few are as critical to your safety as your tires. Proper tire care and maintenance will not only keep tires performing safely and at their best, it will extend the service life you will get from them.
Here are five easy ways you can extend tire service life:
1. Keep tires inflated to the recommended inflation level
When tires hit the road with a pressure that is under the recommended inflation level, an additional load is placed on the shoulder of the tire, causing that area to wear prematurely. Underinflated tires also build up internal heat, which increases rolling resistance and in turn reduces fuel economy. It is not easy to determine if tires are properly inflated by simply looking at them. It is important to use a tire gauge to check tire pressure regularly. Keep tires inflated to the level recommended in your owner’s manual.
2. Regularly inspect your tread wear
Drivers don’t often think to check tread wear unless they are having problems or have been driving on roadways with unavoidable debris. Checking your tire tread regularly can catch wear trends before they have done too much damage. Problems can be spotted by visual inspection or by running your hand over the tread and feeling for problems. Potential issues include distortion in the tread, feathering or cupping. If caught early enough, bad wear patterns can be countered to extend the tire service life.
3. Make sure that your vehicle is properly aligned
A very common cause of unusual tread wear is poor vehicle alignment. When tires are unable to run straight ahead, accelerated tread wear occurs on certain parts of the tire. Regular alignment service will keep your vehicle from experiencing a variety of alignment related problems, including uneven and premature tread wear.
4. Keep up on regularly scheduled tire rotation
Along with regular alignment service, tire rotation should be performed on an ongoing basis. A consistent and documented schedule of tire rotation will promote even tread wear and extend tire service life.
5. Have wheel and suspension components inspected and replaced as needed
Wheel and suspension components can be the hidden enemies of tire service life. A wheel bearing that is not properly torqued can cause irregular tire wear. Worn shock absorbers can create depression wear on treads. Rather than waiting until trouble strikes, replace shock absorbers and other suspension components on a set schedule.