Winter Driving Tips From a Tire Expert

This is a photo of my driveway in South Bend, Indiana a few years ago after making one pass with my snow thrower. Every snow storm doesn't produce results quite this dramatic, but given our location near Lake Michigan, my local area can receive quite a bit of snow each season due to a combination of lake-effect snow storms and system snow.

In my twenty years in sales at Tire Rack, I've tested many tires including all-season and winter tires. I am involved in both the testing program as a test driver and a member of the sales team. We test tires on our test track in the snow and even go so far as to rent a local ice rink for ice traction tests. Based on my personal experience, here are my top winter driving tips :

  • Use four winter tires. - This sounds obvious to those who have used winter tires in the recent past, but not everyone understands how dramatic a difference that a winter tire can make in snow and ice traction. Compared to even the the best all-season tires, winter tires are a large step up in ice and snow traction.
  • Do all braking in a straight line - Tires can quickly bring your vehicle to a stop if they are pointing straight ahead. Asking them to steer while braking can increase braking distances.
  • Practice in a safe place - In my opinion, finding a safe snow-covered area to practice driving on can make a huge difference. If you know of an empty parking lot or other safe location, practice some low-speed maneuvers so that you can experience how your vehicle reacts to slides and cornering in the snow.  

For more advice on handling winter roads, take a look at "My Story on Winter Tires." 

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