Winter Driving – Keep the Pressure On

Dear Tracy,

Now that fall is here, I am beginning to worry about another season of winter driving.  I have heard that if you reduce the pressure in your tires you will have better traction on snow and ice. Is this true? Sliding on the ice really scares me – especially on all the hills around my home!

Olivia D.

Dear Olivia,

I understand – driving in winter weather has a chilling effect on my confidence, too. But, you should not reduce tire pressure to increase traction on snow or ice, mainly because it does not work. In fact, underinflated tires cause the engine to work harder, due to increased rolling resistance. Not enough tire pressure also affects the steering and handling of your vehicle. Under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure because it results in excessive tire stress, irregular wear, and loss of control.

There are plenty of other ways to prepare for driving in winter weather.  Install a set of quality winter tires before the first storm hits. You can also use the changing seasons as a reminder to take care of routine tire maintenance. Being prepared for winter weather will help you anticipate and avoid dangerous circumstances so you can maintain control and remain safe on the road.

Once your winter tires are installed, here are a few safe winter driving reminders:

  • First and foremost, always drive a little slower during winter conditions.
  • It always take longer to stop a vehicle on ice and snow, so double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry.
  • Remember that a four-wheel drive vehicle does not have better braking ability than a two-wheel drive vehicle, so don’t expect an SUV to stop faster than a sedan.
  • In order to gain all of the handling and traction benefits of winter tires you need to install four of them. This assures all tires have the same grip capabilities.