NAPSI -- Conditions such as snow-covered roads and black ice can make winter driving unpredictable. The good news is that preparing early for winter weather and anticipating and avoiding dangerous circumstances can help drivers maintain control and stay safe on the road.
To help, here are some tips from the experts at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.
• Drive cautiously: For starters, double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry. It will take longer to come to a stop in snowy or icy conditions.
• Do not assume a four-wheel-drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel-drive vehicle-four-wheel drive offers no braking advantage.
• Always reduce speed during winter conditions.
• When purchasing winter tires, replace all four tires. Due to the different grip capabilities of summer, all-season and winter tires, the driver will not get all the handling and traction benefits if all tires are not replaced.
• Examine tread: The only part of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, and tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking.
• For winter weather driving, a general rule is the more tread depth, the better. A tire's minimum tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Drivers can check tread depth by using a U.S. penny. Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. 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.
• 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, tire failure or air loss may occur.
• Find tires made for the season. For example, Cooper Tire has been a proven winter tire brand for decades, providing high-performing and extensive product lines that cover more than 90 percent of vehicles, such as the Weather-Master S/T2, the Weather-Master WSC and the Discoverer M+S. All Cooper winter tires include a patented snow groove technology that retains snow in the tread grooves, capitalizing on the higher traction of "snow on snow" versus "snow on rubber."
• Test air pressure: Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Underinflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while overinflation 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, so it is vital that drivers check the air pressure regularly as winter weather approaches.
• 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's tires. 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 required maintenance -- or when in doubt about the condition of their tires -- drivers should take vehicles to a tire dealer for a professional inspection.
For information on proper tire maintenance, visit www.coopertire.com.