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Snowy Road Photo: VDOT

Tire advice for winter operation

Selecting the right tire type and maintaining proper inflation levels can help improve traction on ice and snow covered roads.

By Evan Perrow, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Driving a fully-loaded big rig on the highway is no easy task even with the weather is ideal. Add in ice and snow, though, and it becomes even more difficult. Yet there are simple things drivers and fleets alike can do to improve vehicle handling in the winter, especially when it comes to how they select and care for their tractor and trailer tires. In this guest column, Evan Perrow, senior product manager for product marketing at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, offers a few tips.

Winter is rapidly approaching – and thus so are ice and snow-covered roadways for many parts of North America. But selecting the right tire for the conditions and maintaining them properly – among other things – can help truckers operate their rigs in winter conditions with greater safety:

Select the right tires for your rig: Regardless of vocation, application and weather conditions, optimizing your truck tire’s performance starts with selecting the right tire. Pay attention to tread design. Open tread designs usually do better in the snow and slush. And full skid-depth tires are better for traction in winter conditions than shallow skid-depth tires.

Keep your tires properly infated: Maintaining correct tire inflation is one of the most effective tire care practices you can employ as it positively impact tire wear, casing life and retreadability. It also helps reduce the amount of fuel your truck uses. In terms of winter driving, though, proper inflation gives your tire an “enhanced footprint,” which is important when driving over snow and ice-covered roads. And keep in mind that ambient temperature impacts truck tire inflation levels. Inflation pressure drops approximately one to two pounds for every 10-degree decrease in ambient temperature. So make sure you check your inflation pressures at least once a week, using a calibrated tire gauge – and more often, if possible.

Keep an eye on tread depth: Make tread depth checks a regular part of your maintenance program as proper tread depth helps improves a tire’s “grip” on the road surface.  And if you use retreads, look for tread designs that feature plenty of biting edges and “sipes” that will help improve traction.

Consider chains: The practice of “chaining up” truck tires to boost their traction and grip is as old as the trucking industry itself and remains an effective way to add an extra degree of stability. Chains, when properly applied, should not have a detrimental impact on tire longevity. But that might not be the case if tire chains aren’t applied tightly enough, or if you run them after they’re needed. Also, look for truck tires that have been designed for the easy application of chains and familiarize yourself with state and provincial chain laws throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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