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Care Guide

Cold Weather Tips

Michelin 18 May 2010

Cold weather tips

1. Fit Cold Weather tyres on all four wheels

For maximum safety and control over your vehicle in cold weather conditions, fit Cold Weather tyres on all four wheels. To improve traction while pulling away, some people only fit Cold Weather tyres on the drive axle. While this is tempting, it will not provide optimum performance or safety.

  • Fitting Cold Weather tyres to the front axle can mean that the rear axle slides more easily. You risk spinning the vehicle under acceleration (rear wheel drive cars) or when negotiating bends (front or rear wheel drive).
  • Fitting only two Cold Weather tyres on the rear axle increases the risk of driving straight on when you try to take a bend.

2. Inflating tyres in winter

When it gets colder, your tyre pressure drops. If a tyre is inflated to 2 bar (29psi) at 20°C, for example, the pressure may only read 1.8 bar (26psi) at 0°C. If your tyre pressures are low when you check them in cold weather, re-inflate them to the vehicle manufacturers’ recommendations.
Cold weather tyre pressure

>Our advice:

  • When setting your pressures with cold tyres (tyre temperature at the outside ambient temperature), set them to the vehicle manufacturers’ recommended pressures.
  • If you set your pressures in a warm garage or workshop, add 0.2 bar (3psi) to the vehicle manufacturers’ recommended pressures. This will ensure that you compensate for the cold temperature and run at the correct pressures.

Please check here for more advice on tyre pressure

3. Car maintenance in winter

The best time to prepare your vehicle for the cold months ahead is when winter is around the corner. If you've ever driven when there's snow, ice, loose gravel and salt on the road, you know what they can do to your vehicle. Small scratches turn to rust, your heater gets a working out that it's probably not prepared for, and your windshield must deal with the thermal shock of a freezing exterior and the extreme opposite stress of a very warm interior. If possible, cover your windscreen overnight during in the winter months (a good tip is to use newspaper).

Windshield safety

A small ‘ding’ in your windscreen can, in extreme weather, turn into a major crack. So repair your windshield whenever possible before winter sets in. Or you might have to go through the expense of replacing it. Driving conditions are already poor in winter, so make sure you prevent poor visibility by checking your windscreen wiper blades.

Frozen windscreen

Winter screenwash

If you've ever driven soon after a gritter has come though to melt the ice and snow, then you'll know how important it is to have winter screenwash. Make sure your windscreen washer bottle is kept full and in good working order.  Windscreens can whiten very quickly by salt being thrown up onto them. A good tip here is not to dilute the screenwash fluid with water: it can freeze during harsh winter temperatures.

  • Check the state of your battery frequently; low temperatures can cause it to discharge.
  • Check that the oil in your engine is suited to your car and the conditions.
  • Wash your car regularly to protect the bodywork and tyres from corrosion due to the salt on the roads.
  • Check your brakes. It's dangerous to drive with poorly maintained brakes.
  • Check your lights. There are a lot of long nights ahead.

4. When should you use snow chains?

Snow chains should be used on packed snow. If you're travelling to certain ski resorts, for example, you may be obliged to fit snow chains (check before you travel).

If you don't own a set, quality retailers will be happy to advise you on the most suitable snow chains for your vehicle and tyre size. Ideally, once fitted, there should be the largest number of chains over the contact patch of your tyre. There should be, on average, a minimum of 12 chains crossing the tyre. Before your journey, take time to learn how to fit and remove the chains efficiently. It's no fun fitting them in a sub-zero blizzard, with frozen fingers, half way up a steep mountain road. A couple of hours of practice will help speed up this operation considerably.

Try to make sure that your snow chains are easily accessible. A good tip is to pack them last in your boot with other things you need en-route. Carry a pair of gloves and a lamp (perhaps a cyclists or hikers 'head' light as most people don't have three hands).

Find out about our range of MICHELIN Cold Weather tyres.

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