By now you know that the East Coast is getting slammed with Hurricane Sandy, a storm that is projected to have made landfall this morning. With hurricanes come rain and wind.
But what you may not realize is that this so-called Frankenstorm will be a lot like the October Halloween snowstorm in 2011. Here's why: because of an approaching cold front, weather experts say the Western edge of the hurricane is supposed to produce lots of snow during the storm.
If you need to get out, driving safely is the key to your own personal safety on the road. However, your car—which is safely sitting in your driveway or garage at home right now—may not be 100% ready for winter driving, especially the tires.
If it's been awhile since you've examined your car tires or if you need a refresher course on driving safely, heed this advice, courtesy of Cooper Tire.
- Drive cautiously. Experts say the best advice for driving in harsh winter weather is to not drive at all. But if you must go out during the storm, double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry. It will take longer to come to a stop in snowy or icy conditions.
- Do not assume a four-wheel drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel drive vehicle—four-wheel drive offers no braking advantage.
- Always reduce speed during winter conditions.
- If you decide to purchase winter tires, replace all four tires. Due to the different grip capabilities of summer, all season and winter tires, the driver will not get all of the handling and traction benefits if all tires are not replaced.
- Drivers should keep in mind that it is best to check their owner's manual to see how their vehicle should be serviced in cold weather.
- Examine tire tread. The only part of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, and tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking. For winter weather driving, a general rule is the more tread depth, the better. A tire's minimum tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Drivers can check tread depth by using a penny. Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of Lincoln's head is covered by tread that means there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread; if the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and it's time to replace it.
- While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures, and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and, if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure or air loss may occur, which, obviously, could affect your personal safety.
- Test air pressure. Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires and driving safely. Under inflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while over inflation can cause uneven wear in addition to handling and braking issues.
- Tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch for every 10-degree drop in outside air temperature, so it is vital that drivers check the air pressure regularly as winter weather approaches.
- Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner's manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle's tires. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality it is the maximum pressure.
- Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool, meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile.