Winter / Snow Tire Maintenance Tips from the Tire Rack Experts

Whether you've just purchased a new set of all- season or (even better) dedicated winter / snow tires, or are looking to get the most from your existing tires, the cold temperatures and severe conditions of winter require some attention to ensure a stress-free driving experience.

If you haven't had your alignment checked in the last two or three years, fall is a great time to make sure everything is up to factory specifications as the deeper tread depth of new tires is more sensitive to any issues. Of the three normal alignment adjustments (caster, camber and toe), camber is the most important to keep an eye on as too much positive camber will wear the outside edges of your tires, while too much negative camber will wear the inside edges. 

Another item that is often overlooked is your air pressure. While remembering to check your pressures during warmer months is hard enough, the inconvenience of standing out in the cold and snow of winter often leads to neglect when the tires need the most attention. For every 10 degree (F) change in outside temperature, your tires' inflation pressure will change about 1 psi.

In most parts of the country, the typical difference between average summer and winter temperatures is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That difference results in a loss of about 5 psi, which if not adjusted for can cause problems both with tire wear and safety. Bear in mind that several vehicle manufacturer's owner's manuals recommend operating winter tires several psi (typically 3-5) higher than their recommended pressures for summer and all-season tires.

To learn more about properly setting your tires' air pressure, read "Air Pressure, Temperature Fluctuations."

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