7 Auto Services for a Safe Winter — PT 2

OK, Labor Day is behind us. The kids are back in school. It’s just a matter of time before cold weather returns. Your grade schoolers can probably tell you how many days until Christmas. In Chicagoland, cool weather usually breaks into cold, icy weather about mid-November. The thermometer goes downhill from there.

Prevention and preparation are all about controlling what you can control. That makes now a great time to think about how to assure the vehicles you depend on will keep rolling.

These services are recommended to prepare for winter. In this series, we’ll go into greater detail about who, what, where, when and why these services are important.

· Check coolant/antifreeze amount and condition — Part 1

· Check tire tread, condition and pressure — Today

· Change oil and filter. Switch to winter weight when applicable.

· Check battery/charging/starting systems

· Check/change wiper blades and switch to winter washer fluid

· Check lights front, back and all indicators

· Wash and wax

· Pack and stow an emergency kit

Why are tire condition, tread and pressure important going into winter?

If your tires can’t grip the road, it doesn’t matter how great your engine, transmission or brakes are. There’s also the winter vs all season tire debate which we’ll get to in a moment. Here’s how to take care of your tires for safety and long life:

1. Check tire pressure.

2. Inspect the tire tread.

3. Rotate your tires.

4. Align your wheels

5. Keep the best/deepest tread on the rear. What???

Tire Pressure

Under or over inflated tires waste fuel and do not perform as designed when braking or cornering. This is especially important on vehicles with a higher center of gravity like SUVs. In an emergency, a very hard turn with braking could spell disaster — just ask Ford and Firestone about rollovers Time Mag 2001 or CBS News 2007.

A basic tire gauge only costs a couple dollars. Keep one in your glove box and check your tires weekly. The pressure gauges on self service air pumps are often inaccurate, so use your own.

Tire Tread

Tires that have very little tread will not stop or corner well and especially poorly on wet, slushy or snowy roads. Did you know there’s a minimum legal limit of 2/32” tread depth? For non-mechanics that means you can see the top of Lincoln’s head on a penny inserted head first into your tread.

A 2007 report published by tirerack.com showed that for cars and trucks, tires with only minimum legal tread (2/32") took almost twice the distance to stop compared to new tires with 10/32” of tread. The new standard is to consult with George Washington on your nearest quarter, giving you a 4/32” tread depth. Insert a quarter head first into the tread. If you can see the top of George’s head, you have only 4/32 of an inch of tread left. This is the least amount of tread that still gives you reasonable handling.

Rotate Tires

If everything is working well, depending on how you drive, one tire can wear faster than the other. Drive tires wear faster than the other two even on all wheel drive vehicles. Rotating the tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, even if only side to side, can help your tires wear more evenly and thus last longer.


Misaligned wheels can cause tires to wear out much faster. It can also cause handling problems that you’ll notice in your steering and tracking. An alignment will make sure your wheels are 90 degrees to the road and parallel with each other.

Best Tread in Back

Conventional wisdom says to put the best tread on the wheels that put power to the road. As it turns out, even on front wheel drive cars, it’s best to leave the best tires in the back to help prevent rear end spin outs. Because, it’s easier to recover traction in the front wheels than the rear.

Winter driving is different, so are winter tires.

All season tires versus winter tires?

Like many things in life, the right tool makes things easier and safer. Winter tires not only handle better in cold weather on snow and ice but also on dry pavement.

Whether front wheel or all-wheel drive, handling, acceleration, braking, hill-climbing and cornering, can be as much as 20% better on winter tires in cold weather than using all-season tires. Think of those situations where stopping just a foot or two sooner, would have avoided an accident. Doesn’t that sound like many of those cold weather fender benders could be avoided using winter tires?

Count on BenzWorx for all your car care needs.

BenzWorx AutoHaus, in East Dundee, performs all these services and if you need tires, we’ve got you covered. We specialize in German cars. We also provide comprehensive repair and maintenance services for all makes and models.

Count on BenzWorx to give you peace of mind behind the wheel. Visit benzworx.com or call 847–844–0349 to ask questions or to schedule an appointment. How about a scheduling a getting-to-know-you oil change and safety inspection? Walk-ins are also welcome.

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