Should I Underinflate My Tires for the Winter?

It might be a little soon to be talking about winter weather, but it's nearly around the corner. Snow tires, all-wheel drive, bags of kitty litter in the back - Boulder, CO residents have probably tried it all to take on the snowy, icy winter. For the most part, these strategies do work; they provide defense against an accident in freezing weather conditions. Another winter driving trick that some drivers live by is under-inflating their tires. But is it a safe and trusted approach?

Why Do People Underinflate Their Tires?

To understand why lowering the pressure in your tires in winter is a good plan, you need to understand what's happening when your vehicle skids. No matter what season it may be, your car needs traction to move on the road safely. Friction allows the tires to grasp the road surface and lets you control your vehicle. The more traction you gain, the better control you will have. One of the critical factors regarding traction is the tire's contact patch or the amount of surface area that is touching the road. It makes sense, right?

That's why some people think if you let some of the air out of their tires in winter, they'll gain more traction. Underinflated tires droop more to the sides. In some situations, underinflating your tires for the snow is not a particularly bad idea. However, there are some setbacks to this method.

Why Underinflating Tires is NOT the Best Method

Extra traction may be a great thing when you're driving in the snow, but what about when it doesn't? Or when the roads are plowed? To a certain degree, under-inflated tires will give you too much traction, which will lead to difficulty steering. Therefore, it can't be safe! Furthermore, depending on the intensity of the snow, properly inflated tires can sometimes dig through the snow to the pavement better. Ultimately, under-inflation can damage your tires and wheels if you ride on them for too long. 


In conclusion, underinflating your tires is a winter driving tip that you can neglect. If your tires need service before the cold winter, please do not hesitate to reach out to the pros at Haglin Automotive today!

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