Winter Tire Maintenance Tips

Close up of a car tire driving on snow

Due to winter weather, your tires can get strange designs on them because they are more exposed to unusual wear, which can potentially cause misalignment of the car’s suspension. There are three alignment adjustments on your car which are a toe, camber, and caster. The important ones are toe and camber settings. The caster setting is not that quite as important, but it serves a purpose as well.

The vertical tilt your car’s tires are described by camber. When the top of your tire tilts outward, that is positive camber. Similarly, if the tire tilts inward, it is negative camber. The car manufacturer’s factory settings are the most suitable for your vehicle. Your tires’ outside edge will wear too much due to positive camber. Inside edges will wear too much if the camber is negative.

The toe setting of your car describes whether or not both tires on the same axle are aligned in what way from each other: toe-in or toe-out. Most of your vehicles have rubber bushings which connect the components of suspension with the body. When your car is moving, non-driven axle tires are pulled back by rolling resistance of the tire. The driven axle tires are pulled forward by driveline torque. Rubber bushings allow slight movement in suspension which are compensated by the toe setting. Your car manufacturer’s favorite setting should also be used for the toe settings of your winter tires.

Your cars come with adjustment specifications of preferred settings which also have a tolerance limit. You should only use vehicle’s factory settings when you align your winter tires. For example, if the factory toe setting for your vehicle is one-eighth of an inch with a tolerance value of one-sixteenth of an inch then vehicle setting should be three-sixteenth of an inch. It will be the maximum limit for toe-in. In other words, both front tires will be dragged eighty feet towards each other for one mile. The ideal practice for you is to check your vehicle’s alignment twice a year. Aligning them in spring will give good performance in summer. Aligning in fall will show good results in winter.

The air pressure of your tires is very important. The air pressure inside your tires carries the weight of the car. Good traction, handling, and durability is only possible if right air pressure is maintained. Your car’s owner manual has recommended tire pressure written on it. It is the cold pressure; therefore, you should check it in the morning before driving the car.

You should check inflation pressure of your tires in early winter months and fall due to its criticality. As days get shorter and colder, the air in your tires contracts. The inflation pressure of your tire changes by one pound per square inch when ten degrees Fahrenheit of temperature changes outside. The difference between average winter and summer temperatures is almost fifty degrees Fahrenheit. It means a pressure of five pounds per square inch can occur in your tires. If you keep your car in a warm garage, the tire pressure will not remain the same when you take out your car. It is very important that you keep the valve caps of your tires on; otherwise, the air will escape as the moisture freezes.

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