Mechanics explain what tires you need in snow

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As the first snowflakes begin to fall on West Michigan, drivers are flooding into auto shops to get new tires.

Mike Baker with Torres Tire says a portion of drivers will wait until snow is actually falling before they evaluate whether or not they need new tires.

“We get 'em lined up all the way down the road," he says.

About half of the company's business is dealing with tires. Baker says they receive calls all day around this time of the year with people asking what type of tires they should be putting on their vehicle.

Baker says the decision should be an easy one.

“A 'winter tire' is only designed for supreme traction in winter conditions. It can not be normally driven on pavement in the summer time because they’re loud, they wear really bad,” he says.

Most drivers will want to use "all-season tires.

“It's a tire that gets superior traction in the winter and it also can be driven in the summer time, so you don’t have to switch the tires back and fourth and you save a lot of cost in that aspect as well,” Baker said.

In regards to tire chains, you shouldn't be seeing those on Michigan roads.

“Steel studded snow tires and chains have been illegal for a very long time. If the road commission catches you with chains, you’re going to get a ticket and/or go to jail."

Mike pointing to the wear bar on a tire

But how do you know when you should swap out your tires? Most tires have what is called a "wear bar" that drivers can refer to.

"The wear bar is this little notch in between the tread. And when the depth of the tread reaches the wear bar, that's when you know you’re ready," Baker says.

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