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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Winter Tire Safety Tips

by Jared Staver in Auto Accidents, Personal Injury

When the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to break out your winter tires. As temperatures in Chicago lately have been consistently below zero, you should have had your winter tires in place for some time. If not, though, it is time to switch over.

Winter tires are designed to give you better control over your car in snow, ice, and cold weather conditions for a safer drive. While most people believe all-season tires can provide sufficient traction in cold temperatures, in reality, all-weather tires are not designed to be used when the weather falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which they start to harden. Because the rubber of all-weather tires hardens in cold weather, they lose traction, which can be disastrous in in snow and ice.

Not only do winter tires have rubber created to remain supple in extremely low temperatures, but they also have special features to better deal with snow and slush. With special grooves and channels to cut through and dispel the snow, winter tires can maintain traction in even the most slippery conditions. Thanks to this superior traction, winter tires perform 25 to 50 percent better than all-season tires. If this does not sound like much, consider that this often is the margin needed to stop in time to avoid an accident or turn away from an obstacle.

What to Know When Installing and Maintaining Winter Tires

Since winter tires are so important to combat the winter weather here in Chicago, it is important that they are installed correctly. Without proper safe installation, these winter tires may not work properly, which can cause a serious accident. Proper winter tire installation and maintenance make all the difference. Keep in mind the four following tips on installing and maintaining winter tires.

  • Have a trained professional install all four winter tires. You need to change out all of your tires at the same time, not just a few. An imbalance can actually make driving in snow and slush more dangerous. Plus, a trained professional will be able to make sure that the tires are installed properly for ultimate performance.
  • Do not mix winter tire brands or styles. It may seem silly, but each winter tire model has a unique pattern, inner composition, and balance. Different tread pattern, size, and construction can compromise overall vehicle performance and safety.
  • Check tires for wear often. If you are driving in snow and sludge often, tires tend to wear down much more quickly than they would in regular driving conditions. Even worse, worn treads have less traction on all surfaces, especially on ice and snow. This means that you should check tires at least once a week when tires are new and every few days as they age.
  • Monitor your tire pressure. In cold weather, the pressure in your tires drops much more quickly. This affects both safety and fuel consumption, so check your tires often.

If you do all these things, you will be much more likely to handle driving better this winter. Just remember that winter tires cannot do all the work of keeping your family safe for you. You still will need to drive cautiously and follow all snow and ice safety precautions, regardless. There is nothing more important than your safety, so this winter in Chicago, make sure that you have the proper winter tires to make that easier.

If you have been injured in a Chicago auto accident, please contact us today for a free legal consultation. You may be eligible to recover medical expenses and other types of damages. Contact us at (312) 236-2900.