With cold and icy conditions just around the corner, TireRack.com, America’s largest independent tire tester and consumer-direct source for tires, wheels and performance accessories, reminds drivers to pay attention to the most important item in their winter wardrobe, the shoes for their car. The inevitable sleet, slush, snow and ice that lead to boots for your feet to maximize traction will also be minimized by winter-tuned treads for your vehicle. New tests conducted by Tire Rack show front-wheel drive and all-season tires are insufficient for winter driving safety and switching from all-season to winter tires can save money, time, stress and prevent fatalities on the road.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows crash rates spike from October to February, and in 2009, wintery weather accounted for nearly 805,000 crashes nationwide.
To address and debunk winter tire myths, a team of Tire Rack experts conducted real-world research for consumers by testing all-season and winter tires at an ice rink to uncover which tires perform best for front-wheel drive cars (the most popular on the road) on hard-packed snow and ice. The data and short video is available at http://www.tirerack.com/winter1 .
A second test video http://www.tirerack.com/winter2 also shows what can happen if mixed winter and all-season tires on a front-wheel drive vehicle reach their limits on hard-packed snow and ice, a tire combination so unsafe Tire Rack won’t even sell it.
“Winter driving doesn’t have to be dangerous,” said Matt Edmonds, vice president, Tire Rack. “We make it our priority to help keep drivers safe on the road by researching, testing and educating the motoring public about the tires we sell and the choices that are right for them in any driving condition.”
To stay safe behind the wheel this winter season, consumers should remember the following tips from Tire Rack:
Winter Tires Are Worth It. The best way to improve winter tire traction and increase safety is with a set of dedicated winter tires. Starting as low as $200 for a set of four, typical winter tires can last three or more winter seasons and increase the life span of your other tires when they are only driven in spring, summer and fall.
In Traction We Trust. Traction loss appears as ambient temperatures near freezing, even without slush or snow on the road. Lower temperatures reduce a tire’s flexibility and grip. At 32-degrees, the tread rubber on the summer tires found on many performance vehicles become so stiff they offer little traction.
Never Forget the Pressure. The air inside your tires supports the weight of your car. For every 10-degree drop in temperature, tires lose about 1 pound per square inch (psi) of air pressure. A tire filled to 32psi at 70 degrees will have only 28psi at 30 degrees. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel mileage, can wear out prematurely and cause irreparable damage that compromises their durability. Check tire pressures monthly with a quality air pressure gauge, and if needed, fill them to vehicle manufacturer specifications. Quality air gauges can be found at www.tirerack.com.
Tread Depth Matters. If sleet, slush and snow covered roads are in your future, replace tires when they reach approximately 5/32" of remaining tread depth to maintain good mobility. Tires with more tread depth offer additional traction to claw their way through sleet, slush and snow.
If the winter season means rain and wet roads in your area or where you’re traveling to, consider replacing tires when they reach approximately 4/32" of remaining tread depth. Use a quarter, not a penny, to measure tread depth. Tire Rack’s team proved through testing that insufficient tread-depth doubles your stopping distance. Adequate tread reduces hydroplaning and helps prevent accidents.
Extra Room and Don’t Tailgate! Adding distance behind the vehicle ahead gives you more time to react and distance to stop. While it’s often recommended to follow two seconds behind at 30mph; four seconds at 60mph, those times should be doubled in wet conditions and tripled for snow.
Remain a Smooth Operator. Accelerate, brake and steer as if you had a full cup of hot coffee on the dashboard. This helps improve fuel mileage and prevent loss of control.
“We’ve found through our extensive testing that while all-season tires will get you there; winter tires will get you there easier and safer,” said John Rastetter, director of tire information, Tire Rack.
Consumers can consult a free Tire Decision Guide and access a wealth of additional information about buying the correct tires for any driving condition and climate at www.tirerack.com.
About Tire Rack
Tire Rack, family-owned and headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, is America’s largest independent tire tester and consumer-direct source for tires, wheels and performance accessories. Their team of over 100 test drivers (their sales team) tests tires from every major tire manufacturer on the company’s state-of-the-art, 11.7-acre test facility. The findings are then posted on the company’s website, www.tirerack.com, where consumers can make an educated decision on a tire, wheel or performance accessory purchase. Tire Rack has also collected results from more than 157,300 consumer surveys representing over 2.7 billion miles of real-world tire data, the largest known cache of such information anywhere. In addition various testing and informational videos are available online in their Video Center at www.tirerack.com/videos.
Since 1979, Tire Rack has grown from a single-point retail store in Indianapolis to encompass over 1.8 million square feet of space in six distribution centers across the country. A diverse and broad in-stock inventory from 17 major tire and 44 wheel brands can be delivered anywhere in the country in two days or less. A national network of more than 8,000 independent Recommended Installers are available to service customers’ local installation needs.