Most drivers in the United States rarely, if ever, need to break out the snow tires and chains on their daily commute. But if you have a long road trip planned that will take you across the Rocky Mountains, you may want to reconsider your tire choice before you go. While beautiful and heavily traveled, the Rockies can still be a perilous place, particularly during the colder months. These four steps will walk you through the process of deciding which tires you will need to safely make the journey.
Understanding the Risks of the Rockies
If you have never visited the Rockies before, you may be shocked by both their sheer size and the vast, rugged wilderness they host. The largest mountain range in America dominates the landscape, but its high elevation means that many peaks never lose their snow, and fresh layers fall frequently. Combine the often slushy conditions with plentiful wildlife like bighorn sheep, and it is easy to understand why so many accidents occur along the passes in winter and spring.
Checking the Forecast
If your road trip takes you over the Rockies during the height of summer, standard tires will typically be adequate. You should, however, still check the forecast for the pass to be safe. Similarly, anyone crossing the Rockies in the dead of winter should assume that snow tires and chains are a necessity. Any time in between these two points will require your best judgment, though it is usually better to be safe than sorry.
Inspecting Your Current Tires
Your decision should also be influenced by the condition of your current tires. The last thing you want is to blow a tire while thousands of feet above sea level. Compare the tread of your tires to their manufacturer's recommendations and examine them for any bubbles or other visible damage. If they seem old and worn, they should be swapped out before you hit the road.
Switching to a Safer Set
Once you have determined that you need new tires for your trip, speak to a tire sales specialist, like those at F & H Tire Co, about what will fit your car and deliver you safely on the other side of the Rockies. Snow tires are thicker and have a deeper tread to handle difficult terrain, making them the ideal choice for poor road conditions. You may even need to stop at a rest station and install chains before heading through the pass. If any of this sounds like a hassle or an unnecessary expense, consider that you may very well come to appreciate your own foresight during the drive, especially if weather conditions are worse than you thought. With a little luck and the right tires, you will hopefully emerge on the other side of the mountains with your car in-tact and ready to continue to the next stage of your journey.