MRO Magazine

Tips to prepare for winter driving before the first snowfall hits


October 15, 2012
By PEM Magazine

Maintenance workers can often be responsible for the upkeep of several facilities in multiple locations as well as needing to drive off site to pick up tools and supplies. Because of this, it is important they prepare for the hazards of winter driving.

Conditions like snow-covered roads and black ice often make winter driving unpredictable. To help prepare and keep motorists safe on winter roads, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company encourages drivers to not only install winter tires before the first storm hits, but also use the changing seasons as a reminder to engage in routine tire maintenance. Preparing early for winter weather and anticipating and avoiding dangerous circumstances can help drivers maintain control and stay safe on the road.

"Drivers should consider replacing their all-season tires with a product made specifically for winter road conditions," said Chuck Yurkovich, vice president of global technology for Cooper Tire. "The key is to have those discussions with a trusted dealer before the first storm hits, as winter tires help maintain control and stability in icy conditions. It’s also important to conduct routine tire maintenance checks as changing temperatures can affect tire condition."

In addition to properly equipping vehicles with winter tires, Cooper Tire advises drivers to follow basic winter driving and tire maintenance tips:


Drive cautiously: Experts say the best advice for driving in harsh winter weather is to not drive at all, but with more than 900,000 kilometers of road throughout Canada, driving is the most common mode of transportation for Canadians, according to Transport Canada.

  • Double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry. It will take longer to come to a stop in snowy or icy conditions.
  • Do not assume a four-wheel drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel drive vehicle – four-wheel drive offers no braking advantage.
  • Always reduce speed during winter conditions.
  • When purchasing winter tires, replace all four tires. Due to the different grip capabilities of summer, all season and winter tires, the driver will not get all of the handling and traction benefits if all tires are not replaced.
  • Drivers should keep in mind that it is best to check their owner’s manual to see how their vehicle should be serviced in cold weather.

Examine tread: The only part of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, and tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking.

  • Drivers can check tread using a tread depth gauge. Insert the tip of the depth gauge into the tread lines and read the measurement. If the tread depth is less than four millimeters at any location on the tread, drivers should replace the tires. As a tire wears, snow traction is reduced. Tires that are worn close to the tread-wear indicators or that have reached four millimeters at any location on the tread, have reduced traction and should not be used on snow-covered roads or in severe snow conditions. More tread is better in winter and wet conditions.
  • While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and, if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure or air loss may occur.

Test air pressure: Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. According to the Canada Safety Council, under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure and nearly a quarter of vehicles on the road have at least one tire under-inflated by more than 20 percent.

  • Tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch for every 10-degree drop in outside air temperature, so it is vital that drivers check the air pressure regularly as winter weather approaches.
  • Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle’s tires. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality it is the maximum pressure.
  • Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool, meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile.
  • Should any of these checks reveal the need for required maintenance – or when in doubt about the condition of their tires – drivers should take their vehicles to a tire dealer for a professional inspection.

For more information on proper tire maintenance, visit