Many parts of the U.S. have cold-weather driving conditions at least part of the year. Here are some things you should know about cold-weather driving.

Every time the outside temperature drops 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the air pressure inside your tires goes down about one or two pounds per square inch. You should check your tire pressures frequently during cold weather and add the necessary air to keep them at recommended levels of inflation at all times.

Never reduce tire pressures in an attempt to increase traction on snow or ice. It does not work and your tires will be so seriously underinflated that driving will damage them.

If one of the drive wheels becomes stuck, the centrifugal forces created by a rapidly spinning tire can cause an explosion by literally tearing the tire apart. Never exceed the 35 mph indicated speedometer speed or stand near the spinning tire.

If your vehicle is stuck and a tow truck is not readily available, gently rock your vehicle back and forth, repeatedly shifting the gear lever from drive to reverse on automatic transmissions, or reverse to second on manual transmissions, while applying gentle pressure to the accelerator.

Caution: If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS) in your car, follow the operational instructions in your owner's manual.

In snowy areas, many cities and counties have "snow emergency" regulations which are invoked during heavy snowfalls. Check with authorities for the rules in your area. Under some rules, motorists are subject to fines if they block traffic and do not have snow tires on their vehicles.

You can avoid this by equipping your vehicle with snow tires marked with "MS," "M&S," and "M+S" on the sidewall. The letters "M" and "S" stand for mud and snow.

If you change to snow tires, be sure they are the same size construction type as the other tires on the vehicle.

Snow tires should be used in pairs (or as duals) on the drive axle (whether front or rear) or on all four wheel positions. Never put non-radial snow tires on the rear if radials are on the front, except when the vehicle has duals on the rear.

In areas where heavy snowfalls are frequent, many drivers carry chains for use in emergencies, or have their tire dealer apply studded snow tires. When studded snow tires are mounted on the front axle, studded tires also must be placed on the rear axle. Most states have time limits on the use of studs or ban them altogether. Before installing studded tires, check the regulations in your area. If you use chains, make sure they are the proper size and type for your tires, otherwise they may damage the tire sidewall and cause tire failure.

| Motorists Tire Care & Safety Guide |