Tire Tips for Winter Road Trips

Now that the kids are back in school and fall is upon us, though it's no fun to consider wintry weather around the corner, it will come to pass sooner than later. So, as you're planning your ski trips and your island escapes, make sure to plan a little time for your tires, too. Here are some of my best tips for winter travel and good tires to keep you rolling through snow and ice.

Examine Your Treads

Did you know if you have a penny and a quick lesson you can make sure the tread life on your tires is good to go? It's true! Get out your penny -- put Abraham Lincoln headfirst into a tread bed -- if you can see any of the top of his head, time for new tires. If you happen to have a set of Cooper Tires, they have a tread indicator on the outside of the tire to make it that much easier, especially if you're fresh out of change!

Tire Pressure

One Christmas, my husband put a tire pressure gauge in my stocking. Not jewelry, nor candy. This TOOL! I wasn't impressed, but as he explained that he wanted me to be safe, that he'd put it there to ensure the safety of our little family on a day-to-day basis, it made me melt! (And then he DID give me some pretty adorable Mukluks that holiday, too!) But it's a simple skill to have -- everyone has a phone these days that can quickly look up appropriate seasonal pressure if you forget.

Tire Rotating and Alignment 

I've nearly had to switch mechanics because every winter I bring my car into the shop. "It's clunking and shaking and I cannot go faster than 45 mph without feeling like I'm in a rocket, about to blast off!" It took three times of this happening before I realized it was always the same problem! I went in thinking I desperately needed my tires rotated and left blushing, my tires and wheels freshly pressure-washed by the garage. You could say I was a tire hypochondriac, but the mechanic assured me it was better to be a little embarrassed than to go without regular rotation. (If you live on a dirt road, or one that gets a little sloppy, you might get ice knocking around in your wheels.) You should still be vigilant in rotating tires, even if you aren't rushing in constantly, like I was! Tire rotation is important because each tire carries a different amount of weight, so they wear differently. Consult your Owner's Manual for all specifics, BUT, usually a good rule is 5,000 - 8,000 miles. 

Invest in Winter Tires

Look for M+S on the tire if you're unsure -- generally for All Season tires, this means "mud and snow."

Winter tires offer extra grip and turning capabilities that for ices, snow, and freezing conditions. Even if you have 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, you still need winter tires!
Winter tires are made to perform better on wet roads, snow and ice--where I live, that's about 85% of the time. 
Tires that are made for warmer weather aren't going to perform well in colder temperatures -- they could limit your safe maneuvering! You might be thinking -- okay -- get All Season tires and you're always covered. Not so. All season tires are good for average conditions, overall. If you live where there are extremes weather conditions -- opt for more extreme tires. Deep snow and ice-covered roads will be better met with appropriate tires--take it from a gal that grew up with heaps of snow and skating on ice!

In fact, as I was preparing our vehicle for the winter, I picked it up at the shop with my Cooper Tires freshly installed. I forgot there would be a CRAZY amount of traction to be expected and in my haste to get to the school pick up, I was THAT MOM that pealed out of the parking lot in her mini van! Those tires REALLY grab! 

Other Helpful Hints

Check tire pressure at each fuel up -- maybe ask for one of those sparkly tools for Christmas?!

Stock Your Vehicle with Essentials

Add Roadside Assistance (or check to see if your insurance carries this already -- some policies do and you aren't even aware!)

Remember your tires can change your trip -- for better or worse -- depending on how YOU prepare before you hit the road! Make it a happy and safe holiday season by taking a little extra time and care and by following my easy steps to a safer winter road trip.

*Disclosure: Consideration was provided by brands mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.* 


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