Northern VA Auto Repair


Tire Sense from Craftsman Auto Care: Tire Tips for Fall Weather

Tire Tips for Fall Weather

After the heat this summer, the crisp, chilly fall weather is a breath of fresh air! However, the cold, wet fall weather can bring a host of dangerous driving conditions such as skidding, sliding, and hydroplaning. You will need to have the most reliable tires possible and these tips to keep you safe!

1. Check The Tire Pressure. On average, tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch (psi) for every 10 degree drop in temperature. As the fall temperature fluctuates from chilly nights to warm days, it is important to regularly check tire pressure. Many drivers may see the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning light for low tire pressure on a chilly morning, but you cannot rely solely on this. It is good practice to keep a tire gauge in your glove box to easily check the pressure when you fill up. Ideal tire pressure also improves your overall MPG and increases performance and safety when driving at high speeds. 

2. Check the Tire Tread. Fall seasonal hazards include wet roads and slippery debris, such as wet leaves on the road. In these conditions, tires need good tread to provide traction for braking and to prevent hydroplaning. Avoid putting yourself and your passengers in a dangerous situation by regularly checking the tread - it's a quick and easy step that can save lives!

The easiest way to determine the wear of your tread is the penny test. Place a penny upside-down into a tire groove, and if you can see Lincoln's head your tires are no longer suitable for the road. If the tire tread is less than 2/32 of an inch, it is time to get new tires. In examining tread wear patterns, perform the penny test in multiple locations. This includes along the outer edge of the tire, in the center, and on the inside edge as well. If the measurements vary, the tires are wearing unevenly. To repair this problem, have your wheels aligned, your tires rotated, and your suspension checked to help the tires to last longer. 

The tread depth also helps your tires to clear their way through water. The contact patch is the only connection point between your vehicle and the road. When our tires have enough tread to remove water from the contact patch and properly grip the road, you can ride confidently. 

3. Consider the Age of Your Tires. Rubber wears out over time as air permeates the tire wall and weakens the structural integrity. The tires becomes less flexible, may begin to crack, and don't grip as well to the contours of the road. Even if the tread depth of you tires is acceptable, the performance of a tire that is 6-10 years old could be severely compromised because of age. You can check the information that is printed on the tire's sidewall to see if the age falls into this lifetime. The last two digits of the Tire Identification Number is the year that the rubber was manufactured. 

4. Consider Tire Options. In the DMV, we experience more rain than heavy snow in the fall and winter months. For these weather conditions, consider tires with extra tread depth. It is important in mitigating the chances of hydroplaning in wet conditions. All-season tires can save you time, money and space by avoiding the need to change your tires between seasons. All-season tires also work well in the winter if you can wait to drive until roads have been cleared of snow and ice, or if you live in an area where these conditions are infrequent. 

5. Avoid Potholes. Potholes are created during the fall and winter months when moisture seeps into the road surface. The road can expand and crack when the moisture freezes and unfreezes as the temperature fluctuates. Potholes can cause serious damage to your tires, wheels, and even suspension if hit hard enough. This can be more difficult in the fall when potholes can be hidden by leaves and other debris. Properly inflated tires will hold up much better when you hit a pothole, hopefully avoiding any serious tire damage. For this reason, those regular tire pressure checks are so important.