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Maintain Proper Tire Inflation for Safe Winter Driving

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The prospect of driving on snow or ice-covered roads can make even the most experienced, confident driver nervous—it’s hard to get a handle on slippery roads! Even with the best winter driving prep, driving on a road that’s more ice and snow than asphalt is a scary endeavor. So, it’s important to mentally and physically prepare for inclement weather and dangerous driving conditions.

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Most drivers accustomed to driving in wintery conditions will stock their cars with items like bags of kitty litter (to gain more traction on slippery surfaces); extra gloves, hats, and winter gear to keep warm when dealing with a vehicular mishap; an emergency car kit complete with tools, bottled water, snacks, flares, flashlights and more; and of course a small shovel and ice scraper. But, one safe winter driving tip—keeping your tires a bit underinflated—might not be the saving grace drivers expect it to be.

According to Writer Jamie Page Deaton, an underinflated tire means that more of the tire will be touching the road—its contact patch—which means the tire will create more traction with the road.

“That’s what underinflation aficionados are thinking about when they let some of the air out of their tires in winter. When you underinflate a tire, it droops, letting more of the tire touch the road. In certain cases — like driving in some snowy conditions and on sand—underinflating your tires is a great tactic,” explains Page Deaton.

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But, underinflated tires can quickly turn from being a help to a detriment in winter weather.

“Extra traction is a good thing when you’re driving in the snow, but it becomes a not-so-good thing once the roads are plowed. Underinflated tires will give you (believe-it-or-not) too much traction, which will lead to difficult steering—and a car you can’t steer well, obviously, isn’t all that safe. Also, depending on the depth of the snow you’re driving in, properly inflated tires can sometimes more easily dig through the snow to the pavement below, whereas the wider underinflated tires will ride only on the surface of the snow. Finally, underinflation damages your tires and wheels,” reports Page Deaton.

To protect your tires and wheels and your safety on the road during winter weather conditions, Page Deaton recommends keeping your tires at the right pressure.

News Source: How Stuff Works