Beyond having your tires rotated and occasionally getting their pressure checked, there are some weather-specific steps you should take to make sure your tires stay in good shape and avoid damage during the cold winter months. Properly maintaining your tires during the winter can help ensure the safest travel for your vehicle and prevent your tires from wearing down prematurely.
1. Adjust Your Pressure For The Cold
Even if you regularly check your tire pressure and make sure it is where it should be, you should prepare to make some adjustments for winter. This is because cold weather can reduce the PSI in your tires by one for every ten degrees in temperature drop. Parking in a garage or other protected area with a more stable ambient temperature can help mitigate this, but you should still give your tires a small boost to compensate for the weather, especially for when you're actually outside driving in the cold. Check your car's manual for specifics or call a tire shop for help.
In addition, make sure you check your pressure more frequently as the weather cools. Very cold weather can cause air to leak from your tires more quickly than usual, especially if you're missing any caps on the valves of your tires, so give your tires a quick check once a week. It's better to catch any problems early than to rely on your dash's TPMS warning light, which may only come on after your tire pressure has already dropped significantly.
2. Check Tread and Alignment
The depth of your tires' tread is important during winter when you're more likely to encounter rain or snow. Tread is designed to help your tires grip the road and not lose traction when driving over liquids. When your tread is low, your tires lose traction more quickly, which is especially dangerous in more adverse weather conditions.
There are two ways of going about this. First, you can simply check your tread yourself or have a tire shop inspect your tires to see if they're safe for winter roads. Alternatively, you can choose to replace your tires with a set of winter-specific tires that are better equipped for handling wet or snowy roads.
Whatever you decide to do, you should also have your car's alignment checked, but this is especially important if you're getting new tires. Depending on what winter tires you get and what type of vehicle you have, the alignment may be slightly different for those tires, so make sure that your whole system is inspected for the greatest effect and to prevent your tires from wearing out more quickly.
3. Keep Them Clean Of Salt
Salt is occasionally used on roads because it lowers the melting point of ice; this is done to prevent wet roads from freezing over because ice can be much more dangerous and more slippery than water. The problem is that salt can also cause damage to your tires by corroding the rims. Many rims, especially if made from aluminum, can corrode when left in constant contact with salt, which then causes leaks in your tires.
The best way to avoid this is to simply keep your tires clean. If you go out for a drive on salted roads, wash them off when you come back, or during the hottest point during the day, so the water doesn't have a chance to freeze. Make sure you wash them off yourself, as automated car washes can sometimes miss important spots. You can also wax your tires and rims to help seal them from corrosive substances. Keep a close eye on your tires during the winter, especially if you find yourself driving through puddles or during storms.
For more information, contact a company like King George Truck & Tire Center.