Good tires and other tips for safe winter driving

A quarter is all you need to confirm your tire’s traction

John DiTirro
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 1/4/18

One of the simplest ways to make sure your car is winter-driving ready just takes a quarter, according to AAA Colorado. “Inserting a quarter into the treads on your tires can show if they are …

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Good tires and other tips for safe winter driving

A quarter is all you need to confirm your tire’s traction

Posted

One of the simplest ways to make sure your car is winter-driving ready just takes a quarter, according to AAA Colorado.

“Inserting a quarter into the treads on your tires can show if they are winter-driving ready or if your car should be parked for the season,” said J. Skyler McKinley, public relations and government affairs director for AAA Colorado.

“The test is simple enough,” said McKinley. “Take a coin - a penny or a quarter, although a quarter is preferable - and insert it into the tread with the head inverted and facing you. If the head disappears behind the tread, you should have at least four/32nds of an inch in tread depth and your tire should be safe.”

The more the head disappears, the safer you’ll be, McKinley said.

McKinley said many drivers make the mistake of assuming that chains will make up for a tire with less tread. Chains can help but only if you have enough tread wear on the tires.

He also urged drivers to go all in when they buy snow tires, replacing all four.

“Purchasing only two could cause the vehicle to act improperly and cost more in the long run,” he said. “AAA Colorado wants to remind everyone that purchasing four snow tires can be a lot cheaper than a trip to the hospital.”

McKinley said there are several schools that offer winter driving lessons for drivers that are new Colorado and the snow.

“The schools cover several driving tips and will make you a much safer driver not only for yourself, but those passengers who ride with you as well as the other motorists sharing the road with you,” he said.

He also recommended checking tire pressure regularly, since your tires will lose a pound of tire pressure for every 10 degrees the temperature drops.

As for your vehicle’s overall maintenance, he offered some other pointers.

Have your battery and charging system checked by a trained technician, he said, and make sure your battery and battery cables are in good condition and secure and not frayed.

Check your coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If you need to add coolant, a solution of half coolant and half water is best to maintain the antifreeze capability.

Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition and can completely clear the glass with each swipe. Washer fluid is filled with a winter cleaning solution to prevent freezing.

Check your drive belts and make sure they are tight, not cracked or frayed and engine hoses should be securely fastened and not showing any cracks or frays. A good test is to squeeze the hoses and if they are brittle or feel spongy, replace them.

Check all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights. Replace any that are burnt out.

McKinley also suggested drivers keep a survival kit in their cars. This is a simple kit that will help you maneuver out of the snow quickly and safely without having to call a tow truck or roadside assistance. It is also an essential kit when help is not easily accessible and you could be stranded for a day or longer.

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