Is your vehicle ready for winter?

Author: Colleen O'Brien, Reporter / Weekend Anchor,
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:08:27 AM PST   Updated On: Oct 25 2013 06:57:03 PM PDT
Never too early to start thinking snow tires
SPOKANE, Wash. -

It's not too soon to start thinking about tires for this winter; in fact, many tire shops across Spokane already have wait times to get snow tires mounted.

"It really can make all the difference in the word, especially when the snow flies out here," Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney said.

If anyone knows safe winter driving, it's Sevigney. He's on the roads in the rain, sleet or snow.

"Traction is key, and if you don't have good traction you're going to end up having a problem," he said.

There are a few options for traction, like for example siping. Siping puts thin splits in the rubber that help grip the road. One thing to remember is that winter tires come pre-siped.

Then there's studded tires. Studs are metal inserts that act like claws in the frozen roads, but Sevigney said you don't necessarily need studs.

"It's really about having good, quality snow or all season tires and driving within the conditions of the roadway," he said. "In my career I've investigated several collisions where tires on the cause driver's vehicles were bald or nearly bald."

A good way to find out if you need new winter tires is the penny test. Turn Lincoln upside down and place it in the tread of your tire. If you can see his entire head your tires are bald.

You might wonder why you even need winter tires, especially if your current tires are still perfectly good. Winter tires are made different; they're made not to freeze.

"Anything below 45 degrees is about where they say in the manufacturer's that the all season tires get a little bit firm, a little hard, lose some of their grip, so your winter tires, anything below that they're built to stay nice and pliable, soft, stick to the road," Discount Tire Manager Mark Cordes said.

Once you've decided on which winter tires are for you call around to find out what it will cost to get yours mounted. The cost can range anywhere from free of charge to $60.