RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- When winter weather hits it's not only important to think about how you're driving on icy roads but also if your vehicle and your tires are ready for the challenge.
"Tires as they wear down lose tremendous amounts of traction," said Dave Burnett, Discount Tire store manager.
Traction that is especially important when the road is covered in ice or snow.
Burnett said most tires last about three years, and before winter starts is a good time to check yours.
"All tires manufactured in the United States have what's called tread-wear indicator bars on the tires," he said. "When tires get low and even in tread you can see that little bar. That's when it's time to replace your tires."
Burnett recommends using a penny to check. "You put it [upside down] in the tread of your tire," he said. "[If] you see his whole head, the tire's going out." With a new tire you can't see Lincoln's head.
But Burnett says you don't always need to see the problem.
"Also a good way to tell is if you feel it," he said. "You can actually start sliding a little bit more, the car starts shaking a little bit, making a lot more road noise as well when the tire starts wearing out."
Burnett said air pressure is also a big factor in traction on wintry roads. You can bring your car into Discount Tire to get checked for free, or you can do it yourself.
Even with good tread and air pressure, Burnett said your year-round tires may not be up for the job.
"An all-season tire, under 45 degrees, actually begins to harden," which Burnett said reduces traction and safety.
"The car doesn't stop as good as it does when it's warm outside," he said. "A winter tire has a special compound so it doesn't freeze. It's always flexing, always gripping, always grabbing the road."
Burnett said not everyone needs the same kind of tires. So if yours don't pass the penny test, or you're feeling them start to skid, go talk to an expert and see which tires are right for you.