GREAT FALLS — As winter weather approaches, with storm warnings and snow forecasted as early as Tuesday, auto shops are full of customers hoping to change their tires.
“A lot of folks calling in, make sure they're getting their snow tires on early and trying to make sure that they're able to get snow tires if they don't already have some,” Justin Powell, Manager of Fox’s Point S in downtown Great Falls said.
Everyone knows they need snow tires, but what exactly are snow tires, and how are they different from the tires you currently have?
“Snow tires are actually made of a different type of rubber than tires that you had run generally throughout the summer months,” Powell said, “There are certain tires out there that are called ‘All Weather Tires’, which are essentially snow tires that you can run all year round because the rubber compounds they are made with will actually stand up to the heat of summer. They start to harden up a little bit to allow them to be able to get less damage.”
If you are banking on a moderate winter, experts recommend snow tires. If you are concerned about ice on the road, you can also invest in ‘Studded Tires”.
“Even good snow tires can have trouble on ice,” Powell said, “You know, there's just not a whole lot to grip on to there, whereas the studs in those studded snow tires are going to be able to dig into that ice and give you that traction for both acceleration and braking.”
It is not difficult or time consuming to get your tires changed. Powell said that it generally takes between 45 and 75 minutes to put winter tires on cars when they enter the shop. He also says that there is more to check than just tires for the winter.
“You want to make sure that your vehicle has all the fluids changed,” Powell said, “You know, things like coolant, brake fluids. Make sure you're ready just in case you have to apply those brakes in nasty weather. So all kinds of things. You want to make sure you're getting a good air filter in the vehicle as well, because obviously you're not going to get a whole lot of heat if it can't blow any air through the ducts for you.”
Driving in winter conditions is inherently dangerous, as ice and snow can cover the road and make it difficult for the car to handle like it would on a dry road. Powell has some basic tips when it comes to driving in the snow.
“Obviously getting extra time to allow yourself to brake properly,” Powell said, “Make sure you're pumping your brakes if your vehicle does not have an ABS braking system built in. You want to make sure that you're giving yourself a lot of extra leeway between vehicles while traveling and just standard, you know, snow preparedness. And if you're going be traveling in between town, you want to make sure that your vehicle does have some kind of a kit available in case you get stuck or get off the road.”
This emergency kit should include things like a blanket, a small snow shovel, and even cat litter, as it can be used to help get traction behind your wheels when getting out of the snow. Although it is early in the winter season, it is better to be safe than sorry when preparing for the colder months.
On January 6, 2024, Point S Tire & Auto will be sponsoring a night skiing event at Great Divide Ski Area in Marysville, MT. Point S will purchase the first 75 lift passes starting at 4:00 p.m. and hand them out to the first 75 people who come for night skiing. During the night they will be handing out 75 winter driving kits that will include suggested items that everyone should have in their car during the Winter season. We will post additional information about the sponsored night skiing night as the event gets closer.