Winter Driving

Driving or storing your car in Winter – here is what our experts had to say:

1. Tires

Driving
It’s been said before, and will be for a LONG TIME. Tires are the most important factor on your car. Literally “where the rubber meets to road”. Contact patches the size of your hand are what do all the stop, go and turning!So with that said if you’re driving in the winter make sure to dress accordingly! Summer tires are useless under 7 degrees celsius and all seasons aren’t far off. Winter tires are the best bet (even cheaper ones) than no winter tires at all. The rubber is formulated for the cooler temperatures and generally have special tread designs specific to snow and ice. Don’t neglect the tire pressures either for safety or your wallet’s sake. Under-inflated or overinflated tires come with their own driving and wear characteristics. Just do what the manual says and inflate them as required.

Storing
Tires also need to be checked before storage. Make sure that if you’re storing your summer tires don’t put them directly on concrete or stack them directly on top of each other. Neither is good for the side wall.Keep in mind that storing your car and also lead to flat spots. While this is debated and there are all sorts of ‘preventive’ things such as increasing tire pressure, the most common practices are; foam mats, old yoga mats or dedicated flat spot preventing storage blocks under all 4 tires. Some people prefer to jack the car up off the ground for the winter but it’s contested that this isn’t great for your suspension.

 

2. Oil

Driving
Do you really want to worry about doing an oil change on a bad weather day? Have you thought about the range of temperatures that your car has to sit in? Cold to warm to cold. How about all the idling in the coffee shop drive through? If you’re close to an oil change, get it out of the way now before later, plus your mechanic will appreciate a dry and salt free undercarriage!

Storing
While changing your oil isn’t really necessary since your car will sit most of the winter, just keep in mind in the spring it should be top priority. Tell your phone or personal robot to have an oil change as a priority in the spring. Oil breaks down two ways. By using it and making it dirty or through time by breaking down is lubrication and detergent properties. Maybe a post it note in the cup holder wouldn’t be a bad idea.Most importantly don’t do that mid-winter I miss you start-up and idle. You car was not meant to sit for months and then idle for 10 minutes and then be shut off. Also wasn’t meant to be revved cold!!! The nature of how an engine is supposed to operate is with driving. Heat doesn’t properly get into all the parts for their operating tolerances. Oil and coolant doesn’t circulate as it would in regular driving and warm up situations. You can argue that it’s not that bad, but it’s tough to argue that it’s good.

 

3. Wiper Blades

Driving
Similar to the oil, do you want to inspect or change them in the freezing cold? More over, do you want to find out when they are not work while driving down the highway in a winter storm? Check your blades, at minimum wipe them clean with a rag. Replace if necessary.

Storing
Give em a wipe, less to do in the spring.

 

4. Battery

Driving
You might have caught on to the trend here. Don’t be stuck not checking. A battery sees the harshest conditions in the winter. Cold start ups are hard and the colder it is that more energy and ‘crank energy’ is required.  A lot of cars these days come with a starter for the winter so you can get that car toasty before you get into it. Don’t sacrifice the feature, your battery should operate at 12.6 volts or above and should be 13.7-14.7 when the engine is running. If you don’t know how to check your instruments or the battery itself, get your mechanic to check it.

Storing
Tender the battery. Either in the car or out of it. A battery will still discharge, so for its health putting it on a tender that is ‘smart’ and changes the delivery of charge is great for ensuring longer life and a battery ready for the spring start up. Keep in mind a dry area is also preferable.

 

5. The Inspection

Driving and Storage
Do a visual inspection of the car. Lights, brakes, belts, seals and everything else we’ve already mentioned. Be prepared to drive or store your car. Taking an interest in it now will go a long way down the road. If you need help make the time to bring it in. Prepare for surprises and make your winter more enjoyable.

 

Written By: @milk4coffee

 

Do I need winter tires?

Right around this time every year, when the temperatures start to dip and the trees have lost their leaves, people start to think about winter tires. We usually get all kinds of questions about winter tires – from what brands to go with and what dimensions to choose, right down to an all-out discussion whether people need winter tires to begin with. Here I outline some of the major points that should be able to help you make a more informed decision.

Why Do I need winter tires to begin with?

First and foremost, winter tires are not required only when you are facing snowy conditions or icy roads. They are a great choice when you have any wintery weather, which is average temperatures of freezing and below – this is regardless of whether the road is wet or dry, or even covered in snow or ice. The reason for this is the composition of the rubber itself. Winter tires are formulated using a rubber compound that has an optimal operating temperature range in line with our typical winter temperatures. This means the rubber continues to stay soft and maintain grip when it gets cold outside. Summer tires, on the other hand, have an optimal operating temperature range that is much higher, and as such harden and provide less grip in colder temps. As you can imagine, all season tires try to bridge the gap in between. Base on this fact alone, winter tires will keep you safer in wintery conditions – as the tire will be able to maintain its grip on the road while you accelerate, brake and maneuver on the colder road surface.

The second reason that winter tires are better is the design of the tread pattern itself. Winter tires feature deeper grooves with more irregular and jagged edges to cut through snowy conditions. They also have “sipes” – which are the channels that run inside each tread block to help the tire grip the snow better. Finally, the pattern is also designed to channel out the water and slush, enabling the tire make better contact with the road surface. As such, you can see that the tread pattern itself can also play a very important role on wet, snowy and icy road conditions.

What size tires should I go with?

If you have the ability to choose the size of winter tires for your car, it is advisable to choose the smallest width tire the manufacturer offered with your specific vehicle. Each manufacturer tends to offer a variety of “packages” and wheel options available for each model they sell; and these are typically paired with a few different tires. I would suggest going with the smallest “width” tire they offer (for your specific vehicle) – you can typically find this on a safety sticker inside the driver’s door jamb. The reason you want to go with the smallest width one comes down to basic physics – pounds per square inch, or PSI for short. When you reduce the overall width of each tire, you are effectively distributing the same vehicle weight over a smaller surface area that connects with the ground (the tire’s contact patch). This results in a larger amount of weight on each tire, enabling it to cut through snow, slush, etc. with greater force. Its not advisable to go with a tire width smaller than the smallest one offered by the manufacturer, as there are safety implications tied to the chosen tire size range.

Do I need a different set of rims for my winter tires?

This is dependent on 2 things. Depending what wheel & tire combo currently sits on your car, if you change the tire size dramatically (in relation to what you currently have) for the winter setup, it may require a different width rim. If you go down this route, just remember that choosing a rim does require you to think about a few things – bolt pattern, center bore, offset and clearance from brakes, suspension, etc. It’s best to seek advice from a trustworthy source when going down this route to ensure that all your bases are covered. The second consideration are the actual rims themselves. Some rims, typically found on higher end luxury and sports cars, are not winter ready. As such, they will get corroded and destroyed as the salt literally eats into them. In these instances, its worth your money to buy a dedicated set of winter rims.

Do brands matter?

Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Brands like Michelin and Pirelli have spent a ton of money on R&D in developing their tires. Their long tenure in developing tires results in tried and tested products that work very, very well. That said, lesser name tires can also do a good job for winter driving and I believe it boils down to how you drive. If you are a spirited driver that tends to demand more out of your car than an average Joe, its probably best that you stick to a brand name tire (like Michelin, Pirelli, etc.) that can give you that extra bit of safety and performance. However, if you tend to drive on the more cautious side, there is no reason why a lesser name tire cannot meet your requirements (while saving you money).

When is the best time to switch over?

Typically, when the average temperature starts to hover around the single digits, it’s a good idea to proactively change over to your winter setup. The magic number the industry uses is 7 degrees Celsius. This also holds true when switch from winter to summer tires in the spring.

I hope the above gives you food for thought on some of the major considerations when it comes to choosing a winter tire setup. If you have any further questions, the team at 11Tenths (or your local tire shop) will be happy to answer them and get you a package that is right for your needs and application.

 

Written by : Kaizer