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posted: 1/26/2014 12:10 AM

Performance cars often need winter tires

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Q. My granddaughter's 2011 Ford Focus SES has traction control and good tire tread. When trying to get out of her driveway, the car's tires just spin on the ice we have had lately.

Her only option is to push the car free of the ice. She has turned the traction control on and off and still has the result. Two other family cars have no traction problems at all under the same conditions.

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Any ideas as to what she can do to overcome the problem?

A. When you say the tires have good tread, what does that mean? They should have at least 4/32nds of an inch tread and even at that they might not be the best for traction in the snow.

Typically we recommend replacing the tires at 4/32nds to get the best snow and wet traction. If the tread is low, replace the tires with a good quality all-season tire.

The other thought I have is what type of a tire is it? If it is more of a performance tire you will not get adequate traction in the snow.

Many drivers have found that installing a full set of winter tires on their car is the answer to trouble-free winter driving. Some cars just don't handle well in the snow without winter tires. The difference they can make is remarkable.

If a car comes equipped with more of a low profile performance tire, you will find the car almost undrivable in the snow and ice. However, winter tires will get you through most anything.

Typically when we install a set of winter tires, we put them on a spare set of steel wheels (with hubcaps) so it becomes an easy swap before and after winter. The benefit of having the tires on their own wheels is twofold.

Firstly, the tires do not have to be mounted and dismounted twice a year, which can be costly and hard on the tires. Also, your nice wheels are not exposed to the salt that can cause corrosion and ruin the look of the wheels over time.

However, it is important that you don't put the winter tires on too early or take them off too late. The rubber compound on winter tires is a lot softer. If you run them in the warmer, dry weather, you will wear them out prematurely. The goal is to install them just prior to the first snow and remove them after the last one.

I hope you find this is helpful.

• Douglas Automotive is at 417 W. Main St., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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