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Tires Really Matter When It Comes To Winter Driving

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This weekend’s snow was a rude awakening for many drivers. And lots of people will find themselves in body shops in the coming days.

Spin-outs and accidents were plentiful in the first bout of winter weather. It seems we all have to relearn our winter driving skills, and make sure our cars are in good shape.

Could some accidents have been avoided with better auto care? Paul Hagen of Hagen’s Auto Body in Minneapolis says they often see worn out tires on vehicles that have been in winter crashes.

“Some of these high end cars – they can get up to $10,000-$15,000 for repair real easily,” Hagen said. “People don’t even realize after we do the repairs, or during the process. We actually show them the condition of their tires, and they don’t even know.”

The sales people at a Firestone Complete Auto Care in Minneapolis say business is booming. People who put off buying tires during last year’s weak winter now want the traction that comes with a new set of all-season radials.

According to Firestone’s Dan McFedries, about 10 percent of us step up to dedicated ice and snow tires.

“They got a lot different tread designs on them now. They have a lot of siping on the tires. Our Blizzak line has got a lot of multi-cell compound which helps grip the ice,” McFedries said.

Siping is all these little slits in the tread blocks of winter tires. The slits allow each tread block to flex and grip ice and snow.

A snowflake symbol on a tire’s sidewall indicates a true winter tire. They’ll cost you about $100 more per set – but do they really work?

“There’s a considerable difference when you have a snow tire on versus an all-season. The tread designs are different. You got a lot more traction capability with the snow tire,” McFedries said.

All the other driving tips you hear every winter still apply: keep your washer fluid filled up, your lights and wipers in good shape – and fill up before your gas tank gets low.

Also, gas line deicer is not needed because all our gasoline now has ethanol in it.

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