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As weather changes on LI so should your tires

Stephen Briere, the Westbury-based downstate New York district

Stephen Briere, the Westbury-based downstate New York district manager of Firestone Complete Auto Care, urges Long Island drivers to use snow tires during the winter months. (Oct. 22, 2012) Credit: Handout

Long Island drivers are woefully unaware of the number one precaution they can take to prepare their cars for winter weather, according to one car-care expert.

Falling temperatures and icy conditions wreak havoc on cars, and many drivers respond by bringing their cars to technicians for checkups. But in addition to peering under the hood, drivers simply need to check their tires. Swapping standard tires for a set of snow tires is crucial to safely navigating the roads, according to Stephen Briere, the Westbury-based downstate New York district manager of Firestone Complete Auto Care.

“People don’t think they need them,” Briere told Car Nation. “But I would urge people if you just put on a set of snow tires versus trying to drive in wet weather without them, it’s like night and day.”

And if you reintroduced yourself to your vehicle’s heating system during last week’s chilly morning commutes, that’s a good sign it’s time to make the switch. Briere said he swaps tires in late October and leaves them on through March.

Firestone still recommends that drivers get batteries, cables, belts and hoses checked in October, which the company designates Fall Car Care month because of the plummeting temperatures. But if you’ve read your owners manual, Briere noted, you need to be doing that every few thousand miles anyway just to remain eligible for your warranty. (Briere said that’s just the cost associated with the ever-improving warranties, like the 10-year, 100,000-mile one he got last year on his 2011 Kia Optima.)

That’s why, when the temperatures drop, Briere shifts his focus from the nuts and bolts of the car to the rubber on the wheels.

"Once you make the switch, you’ll never go back to not having snow tires," he said. "It’s just so safe -- so the most important thing is to get the right tires on the car for the cold weather."

If you’re looking for more information on Firestone’s Fall Car Care month, check out this graphic, the company has passed along.

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