Whether it's a Chevy, Cadillac, Pilot or Porsche, there is one thing -- four things, actually -- they all have in common. Tires . Its easy to take tires for granted as long as they get you and your car where youre going. But before winter hits full-throttle, take the time to make sure your tires can weather it. My car is all-wheel drive and I dont think it needs new snow tires, but Id like to find out what kind I should buy when the time rolls around.
Jason, a sales associate at Town Fair Tire, knows his treads. Over here, these are great for all weather conditions, he says, pointing to a five-foot stack of black cylinders, all of which look identical to my untrained eye. See these deep treads? he asks. These Goodyear Assurance Triple-Treds , will last 80,000 miles and will keep you safe every last one of them.
All-weather tires, he explains, have wide, square, block-like treads. They also have siping, grooves that run laterally across the tire tread. The tread pattern helps shed snow and water. I ask him what kind of tire an all-wheel car-owner should purchase. Well, that depends on if youre staying around here in the winter or doing a lot of driving up north where theres a lot of snow, he tells me. Knowing my winter is lacking foreseeable plans for frolicking in fine Vermont powder, I tell him Im staying put.
People who live in Connecticut who have all-wheel drive dont need snow tires, says Jason. But, he adds, if youre driving around with rear-wheel drive during the winter months, you might want to consider purchasing snow tires. You dont want to fishtail on a slippery road, he says. No, I definitely do not.
Snow tires increase your cars grip on the road. Winter tires are specially formulated from softer rubber, which is designed to remain soft in colder temperatures. Softer tires mean better traction but also faster tread wear and reduced stopping power in dry conditions. Thats why drivers should switch back to regular tires once its warm again.
And for users of all tires, the following tips from the Tire Safety Industry Council, will help keep your tires -- and you -- rolling safely
Check the tread grooves of tires to make sure theyre free of foreign objects. This makes it easier for tires to grip the road and increases ability to safely maneuver your car.
Check the sidewalls to make sure there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.
You could have irregular tread wear if there are high and low areas or unusually smooth areas. Built-in treadwear indicators, wear bars, narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread, will appear on the tire when the tread is worn down to one-sixteenth of an inch. When you see these wear bars, the tire is worn out and should be replaced.
No matter what kind of tires you have on your car, remember to drive slowly during inclement weather. Your tires are only as good as the person in front or behind you -- whose tires might be worn.
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