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Do-it-Yourself Tire Maintenance Tips for Winter Driving

Do-it-yourself Maintenance for Checking Tires
Before Winter Weather Approaches

Experts say the best advice for driving in bad winter weather is to not drive at all; but for the more than 250 million vehicles currently on the road in the U.S., driving – even in ice or snow – is an everyday part of life. Cooper Tire recommends drivers engage in routine tire maintenance, checking that their tires are in the proper condition to deal with potentially hazardous road conditions this winter season.

“People should engage in simple and easy tire maintenance at least once a month; but it’s especially important to do this during the wintertime when unpredictable weather can have an impact on road conditions and driving in general,” said Chuck Yurkovich, vice president of global technology for Cooper Tire.

With many drivers choosing to leave all-season tires on vehicles for winter driving, ongoing maintenance becomes even more critical as industry reports indicate that 11 percent – or about 28 million vehicles – have at least one bald tire, and 55 percent of vehicles have at least one underinflated tire.

Cooper Tire advises drivers to conduct the following do-it-yourself maintenance checks that take less than 10 minutes a month to perform:

Examine tread: the only piece of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, making tire tread a key factor in handling, cornering, accelerating and braking.

  • Tire tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire and drivers can check this by using a U.S. penny. Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of Lincoln's head is covered by tread that means there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread; if the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and it's time to replace it. For winter weather driving, the more tread depth, the better.

  • While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and if not corrected, further tire damage or air loss may occur.

Test air pressure: tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires as under-inflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while over-inflation can cause uneven wear in addition to handling and braking issues.

  • Tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch for every 10-degree drop in outside air temperature.

  • Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality it is the maximum pressure.

  • Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool, meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile.

Should any of these checks reveal the need for requi Cooper Tire also recommends drivers discuss the need for winter (snow) tires with their tire dealer, particularly those in areas where winter ice and snow storms are prevalent.

“In areas that typically experience harsh winters drivers may want to consider replacing their all-season tires with a product made specifically for that severe climate,” Yurkovich said. “The key is to have those discussions with a trusted dealer before the first storm hits. Preparedness is key.”

For more information on proper tire maintenance, visit

About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is a global company with affiliates, subsidiaries and joint-ventures that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing and sales of passenger car and light truck tires and has subsidiaries that specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. With headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper Tire has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 10 countries around the world. For more information on Cooper Tire, visit,, or