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5 Quick Tips about Buying Winter Tires

Winter probably has the least optimal conditions for any kind of driving whatsoever, unless you're trying to use your car on the moon or in an active volcano. Snow, ice, and slush make it really easy to lose control of your vehicle or spin out. Fortunately however, with tires designed for this kind of weather, it's easy to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Here are five tips for when the time comes to buy winter tires.

1. Shop early in the season
It's the same principle that applies to buying a winter coat – you can get them on sale in the summer, and if you try to buy them seasonally, you'll get gouged on the price. Once the demand goes up during the winter season, they'll be pricier and harder to find.

2. Install them early
This is especially important in regions where snowfall can start unpredictably. It's better to drive around in fair weather on your snow tires for a couple weeks, than to get caught in an early storm with improper tires.

3. Buy the right type for your vehicle
Now, no one is expecting you to get semi-truck sized snow tires for your Honda Civic, but buying tires that are rated for your vehicle's weight and shape is a good idea. Fortunately, most stores will recommend that you do the same thing, and matching tires to your car is usually pretty easy.

4. Get the right tires for your location and driving style
Think about the kind of driving you'll be doing. If you live in a city, you probably don't need hardcore snow tires, and you'll probably want something more like ice tires that can help with a lot of stopping and starting, and possibly not very well-plowed streets. If you live on the side of a mountain, and you drive through four-foot drifts every day, then maybe the snow tires are a pretty good idea. Check your options and think about where you'll be driving regularly.

5. Ask about tread wear
The depth of a tread changes how it functions, how long they'll last, and how well they work in specific kinds of snow and ice. The details get pretty specific, and unless you're an automotive professional yourself, there's no way you could be expected to remember them all. Check with your mechanic – especially one that's worked in your area for a while – about what kind of treads you should think about buying and how often you should replace them.

Prepare ahead of time for the winter season by shopping early for winter tires, finding the right tires for your car, driving habits and location, find out about tread wear and get those tires installed at the beginning of the season, so you don’t get caught sliding around on ice or snow.