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How cold weather affects your tires

winter-tire-care

When cold weather comes around, it’s important to pay careful attention to your tires, especially your tire pressure, to avoid unsafe conditions before they develop. Aside from bumpy roads, ice, and fresh potholes, cold weather also threatens the integrity of your tires by causing the air inside to contract – 1 PSI for each 10 degree drop in temperature. It may not sound like much, but if your tire air pressure was low to begin with, the cold can exacerbate the problem.

When the weather gets really frigid and temperatures dip below zero, make sure to check the rim of your tires where the rubber meets metal. At these temperatures, the tire stiffens and the seal at this juncture begins to loosen.  Some people report completely flat tires with no evidence of structural damage to the tire and wonder what happened. It’s likely that cold weather allowed air to escape through this loosened seal.

Aluminum alloy wheels are the most likely victims of cold weather tire pressure drops, and unfortunately, they are the kind used on most vehicles today. It’s a bit harder to get a proper seal when constructing an aluminum alloy wheel to begin with, and it’s even harder once road salt and other debris begins to eat away at the metal. Once this happens, air is more likely to leak out of tiny gaps created on the chipped surface of the wheel. Of course, hitting winter potholes doesn’t make matters any better!

To combat tire damage and deflation during cold weather, make sure to keep a constant eye on your tire pressure. When temperatures drop below zero, check the seals on the tires to make sure they aren’t allowing any air to leak out. If you do discover a leak, it might be a good idea to purchase snow tires, which not only help with traction on icy roads in the winter, but are better at dealing with the rocky road conditions you’re likely to encounter.

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Filed under: Snow Tires, Tire Care, , , ,

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