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The weather is turning colder, and the days are getting shorter. With winter looming just around the corner, it’s time for a change: your tires. Find out why your car needs winter tires in the coming months.
Michigan is notorious for its winter weather. Every year, Detroit gets an average of nearly 4 feet of snow. Ice, snow, and wet, salty roads are a fact of life for Michigan drivers.
And that can make travel dangerous. The number of traffic accidents skyrockets in the winter, peaking with 31,400 crashes in January 2015.
There’s nothing you can do to change the weather, but you can be ready for it. By putting winter tires on each of your cars, you can improve your traction and stopping power when roads turn snowy and icy.
Winter tires (also known as snow tires) have been specifically designed to handle ice-covered roads. Their rubber is able to remain softer in the cold temperatures. That means that your tires will better conform to the road.
Snow tires also have deeper treads with specialized designs. Some are even studded with metal within the tread. They are designed to dig into the ice and give you better handling as you take snow-covered corners.
If winter tires are so much better for traction and handling, why not use them year round? Wear and tear. The more flexible rubber is designed for cold temperatures. When temperatures rise, that soft rubber can wear out quickly. At $150 to $190 a tire, you don’t want to be replacing your tires every year.
The deep treads that help you in the winter can also cause problems on dry roads. One tire tester at Edmunds.com says that winter tires, particularly from bargain-tier brands, can take longer to stop in dry weather, which puts you at risk for accidents during the rest of the year. If your tires are studded, they can also do damage to the roads and driveways you visit regularly. In some areas they may even be illegal.
So when should you switch to high-tread? Marc Cox of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School says “when you can see your breath in daytime” it’s time to make the switch. Generally, you will want winter tires near Thanskgiving, and All-Season tires around tax time.
Winter will be here before you know it. And with it comes dangerous travel conditions. Don’t wait until you spin out or end up in a ditch. Install winter tires each year to keep you and your family safe.
David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents car crash victims against the auto insurance companies. If you have been seriously injured in an auto accident, contact Christensen Law for a free consultation.