Simple tips for checking the safety of your winter tires

Using a quarter is a fast and simple way to determine if your winter tires are still safe for driving.

Unsure of the safety of your winter tires? Well, you can find out in a matter of a minute or two using just a quarter.

It's important to make sure your car is fully ready to handle the slippery and snowy roads that are a part of winter, and that includes the set of tires you're driving on. The Co-operators have a simple trick to determine if you need to replace them.

SEE ALSO: Windshield wiper blades: Is it a good idea to leave them up before a snowfall?

The first thing you need to do is turn the quarter so the caribou’s nose is facing down. Next, insert the quarter into one of the grooves on your winter tire. Then, look at the caribou’s nose. If it’s covered, your winter tire is OK.

However, if you can see the tip of the caribou’s nose, the tire should be replaced. Remember to check all four tires, as some may have more wear and tear than others.

"Whether you’re a veteran of Canada’s roadways or facing winter driving for the first time, reach your destination safely by checking your winter tire treads before you travel. Winter tires can make all the difference,” says Nicole Bellefleur, director of national auto portfolio for the Co-operators.

Quarter hack/Nate Coleman

Check your winter tires quickly by using a quarter. (Nathan Coleman).

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In addition to checking the integrity of your winter tires, now is a good time to brushen up on your driving skills, to ensure your travel is safe as possible when roads are not always. Below are three easy steps to enhance your winter driving.

Prepare your vehicle

  • Install winter tires and keep them properly inflated

  • Carry extra windshield washer fluid (with de‑icer in the -40°C range)

  • Replace old windshield wiper blades

  • Carry a scraper, a lightweight shovel and an emergency kit

  • Schedule a tuneup

Plan your route

  • Check weather and road conditions before you drive

  • Give yourself more time than usual, in case conditions worsen

  • Choose main roads that are plowed and salted

  • In extreme conditions, consider delaying or postponing your trip


Adjust your technique

  • Accelerate smoothly, maintain steady pressure on the gas pedal, and brake gently and early to avoid skids

  • Before driving, clear snow and ice from car windows and surfaces

  • Keep your headlights and taillights on, even during the day

  • Turn off cruise control if it’s wet, icy or snowy

  • Above all, always adjust your speed to road conditions

Thumbnail courtesy of Nathan Coleman.

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