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Get a grip on winter driving with proper tire maintenance

(NC) As soon as the temperature drops to 7°C, many non-winter tires begin to lose traction and grip. Winter tires are typically made with a different rubber compound than all-season and summer tires, allowing them to remain softer during cold weather. This provides the flexibility that ultimately leads to excellent handling and traction even in the absence of snow or ice.

But having winter tires is only half the battle. One of the best things you can do for your safety and the safety of any passengers and other drivers on the road is ensuring your winter tires are properly maintained.

“Tougher driving conditions mean more wear and tear on your tires, so it’s a good idea to check your winter tires before hitting the road — especially if they’ve already seen a few seasons,” recommends Andrew Horsman, executive director of Ontario Tire Stewardship. “While it’s always important to have a well-maintained set of tires on your vehicle, the difference in performance can be even more dramatic in the winter.”

Follow these tips to keep your tires well-maintained this season:

Put a lid on it. If valve caps are left off, the moisture in the valves can freeze. This can lead to escaped air and a flat tire.

Stay watchful. Check your tire pressure at least once a month when the tires are cold and before you head out for a drive. While this is good practice all year, it’s especially important in the winter when air pressure and temperatures are at extremes. Under- or over-inflated tires may not accelerate, brake, or steer properly. Not sure what your tire pressure should be? The vehicle information placard is a small sticker that lists the proper pressure for both your front and rear tires.

Be consistent. Use winter tires on all four wheels. While it may seem less costly to replace one or two tires at a time, having mismatched tires can lead to rapid and uneven tread wear or even mechanical issues. Inconsistent traction can be dangerous and can lead to sliding and skidding.

Replace and recycle. Part of safe winter driving is knowing when your tires have outlived their lifespan. Replace winter tires every two to three seasons, and drop-off up to four used tires free at a registered Ontario Tire Stewardship collector.