Winter Save Driving Tips
Winter can be a dangerous and stressful time to hit the road. There are a number of simple and pro-active things that you can do to ensure a safer driving experience.
Most modern day vehicles have headlight switches that have an “automatic” mode. A lot of people turn this feature off in the summertime with the longer days so headlights are not used as frequently. Once daylight savings time arrives it’s a good idea to make sure that your headlight switch is in the automatic mode. Not only does this allow for better viability when driving for you but it allows others around you to see you.
Check Your Tires’ Contact Patch
Contact Patch..what’s that? How do you check your tires and does the air pressure change if there are no leaks? The easiest way to check a tire is to turn your front wheels either left or right but, make sure you turn them all the way. This will give you a good look at the tread all the way across the tires. This is one of the most common areas for lack of attention and potentially very dangerous too!
When you have your front tires turned all the way and your vehicle is secured in park get out and look at the tire that’s turned fully out (so, if you’ve turned your steering wheel all the way to the left then look at the left front tire). Within the grooves of the tires you’ll see a raised rubber section. This is called your “wear bar” or the “legal limit” of wear. When the tread of the tire is equal to the wear bar it’s time to replace the tires!
The term “contact patch” describes the section of tire that touches the ground. Most vehicles really don’t have that much real contact with the road once you understand what “contact patch” is so, it’s very important to pay close attention to your tires and replace them when needed!
Don’t Forget How Changing Temperatures Can Affect Your Tire Pressure
If the pressure in the tires is going to change it’s going to change with the change of seasons (summer to winter, for example). There are larger swings of temperature which effect air pressure. If you ever want to know what the recommended tire pressure is for your vehicle look in the drivers door jam for the sticker (usually it’s a white sticker with black lettering). This is the recommended tire pressure for the tires that came on the vehicle with the TPMS system (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) if installed.
Often we see tires either way over filled or under filled – both are incorrect. A common error is looking on the side of the tire for pressure and filling it to that. The pressure stamped on the side of tires is the MAX pressure. It’s important to check your tires every month and if you have a TPMS light on get it inspected and repaired as quickly as possible.
Derek has more than 25 years experience in the auto service industry, specializing in BMW and Mercedes-Benz. When he is not spending time with his family or practicing on one of his guitars, he is working on ways to make your auto repair experience better than ever.