By on November 7, 2017

winter driving snowy road (public domain)

I have a profound allergy to corporate-speak, which is one of the reasons I’ll always be poor. With that said, there is one thing I’ve heard out of various room-temperature-IQ managers that seems both reasonable and useful: Some things are important, some things are urgent, some are both, and some are neither. Many of the mistakes we make in both business and personal matters occur because we fail to appreciate the distinction.

Here’s an unpleasant and unfortunate example. Between 2008 and 2013, I had all of my tire mounting done by a friend of the family. In October of 2013 he told me that one of the snow tires for my Town Car shouldn’t be used another year and that he would order a replacement for me. On December 11, 2013, I got tired of not getting replies to my texts, so I texted his wife instead. She told me that he had been injured at work and that he would return in a few weeks. She also informed me that if I went in and asked to have my snow tires mounted by someone else, it would cause him some problems with the shop’s owner (as he’d made some sort of mistake while ordering the replacement tire). He would need a day or two back in the office to fix that mistake so he wouldn’t lose his job. I told her that I understood and that I’d wait until he returned to get my snow tires mounted.

Well, I was still waiting, and he was still sitting at home milking his workers’ comp, while I had my very favorite spleen removed on January 5, 2014, after an icy-road crash.

At the time, I judged that the importance of supporting my friend outweighed the urgency of getting my snow tires fitted. That was a mistake, to put it mildly, one that wandered into the realm of mild irony/tragedy when he ended up quitting the tire business, abandoning his wife, and departing for parts unknown just about eight months after the incident in question.

Needless to say, ever since then I’ve been a bit of an evangelist when it comes to having snow tires fitted. I think it is both important and urgent to get your tires put on before the first big storm of each winter. Except, of course, when it isn’t— which brings me to today’s “Ask Jack.”

Brian writes,

In May, my parents bought a 2017 Volkswagen Golf Wolfsburg edition five-speed manual. The purpose of this car is for me to drive through high school and college. My father is prepping for a winter of mild discontent, one in which I will begin driving. I have heard from you and many others in the automotive space that snow tires are imperative if you live in a place that snows (I live in West Virginia, on a steep hill). My father disputes this, saying that the all seasons are fine for winter. Despite this, his biggest priority with me is safety. So my question for you is this: Is it necessary to get snow tires for a new driver? If so, why? And what ones should I get?

Let me start by saying I’m not a big believer in the adequacy of all-season tires, even on a relatively benign platform like a low-power VW Golf. I think of them as “no-season” tires, because they’re a disappointment in the summer and they’re miserable in the winter. This is particularly true in West Virginia, where many towns see twenty days’ worth of snow every winter and there’s no such thing as a road with no elevation changes. I once knew a young lady who lived in Fairmont, WV and who drove a Chrysler Crossfire on wide summer tires. Around November 1 of each year, she put the Crossfire in the back of her garage and started driving her Jeep. She understood that there was no sense in running an unnecessary risk.

In Brian’s case, however, I think that his age (under 18) and likely vehicle use (back and forth to school) should be taken into account. As good as snow tires are, there is an ever safer option: just staying home. If you’re a teenager in West Virginia and you’re looking at weather conditions that require snow tires, you’re better off just not making the trip. That’s not just true for new drivers. The trip that put me and my girlfriend in the hospital nearly five years ago was entirely optional. It was unnecessary. There was no reason for me to be driving fifty miles of farm roads on a day where temperatures were well below freezing and road surfaces were changing from minute to minute. We’d have been fine staying home.

That’s the real lesson about importance and urgency to be derived here. It’s always good to have the right tire for the job. It’s ever better to avoid unnecessary risk. When in doubt, consider staying home. Nobody ever crashed their car on a trip they didn’t take — and if that doesn’t sound like something you’d see on a corporate motivational poster, maybe the problem is with the poster makers and not the message.

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136 Comments on “Ask Jack: There’s No Business Like Snow Business...”


  • avatar
    Tosh

    For three winters I drove a 5-sp SAAB 900S in the snow with only Yokohama summer tires, and I learned a lot about slippery conditions. And I was able to push a coworker’s Mustang up a snowy incline, so FWDFTW…
    Good luck with that POS VW, Brian! Tires are the least of your worries.

    • 0 avatar
      Frank Galvin

      Nice. My ski mobile was a 85 Camaro with the 5.0 V8, air lift suspension, and beefy snow tires. I’d throw 3 bags of tube sand into the hatch, raise the suspension, throw on the ski racks and blast up to VT regardless of what the weather was doing. Broken heater core, no headliner, and a 3″ Borla exhaust. Good times.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Jack needs to put some Hecho En China Snow Tires on his Hecho En Mexico Silverado, then preach to everybody how he goes out of his way to buy American no matter what, and inform is as to how Trump will bring American coal, denim, furniture making, air conditioner aseembly and newspaper printing jobs back to America by the millions.

        “It’ll be so beautiful and wonderful…I will make it rain like you’ve never seen before in all of human history….believe me.”

    • 0 avatar
      Brumus

      @ Tosh

      If you did in fact drive in the snow and cold temperatures with summer tires, that was idiotic.

      You were lucky, plain and simple.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        @ Brumus

        And yet, many people in the US who buy “sport package” German cars or even Subaru WRXs do it all the time. I have seen countless BMWs with OE summer Bridgestone RE050s in the winter driving around without any concept of the danger.

        But I agree with you, of course.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          that cluelessness extends to them huffing “man, this is BULLS***!” when their M3 or RX-8 can’t even get up their own driveway.

          • 0 avatar
            fincar1

            Well, the driveway into our culdesac is more often than not the only place where there is still snow. It curves uphill through fir trees and is situated so that one can’t get a run at it to come in. It is a bit galling to need show tires ONLY for the driveway….

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      A SAAB 900S is just about the best car in the world for driving in the snow with summer tires. Both “classic” 900 and “new generation” 900 were absolutely the easiest cars to control once you begin sliding around. You are sliding but you feel utter confidence about being able to place your car exactly where you need it.

      When we had a SAAB 900S (1998) and Subaru Impreza 25RS (1998), my wife would pick the SAAB any day it snowed because she felt a lot more confident driving it. The two cars had identical all-season tires on them. Eventually I installed a set of winter tires on the Subaru because it was quite easy to spin out with the all-seasons.

      My old classic 900S (1986) was unstoppable in the snow. One time I needed to move it before the snow plows came. It had well worn high performance tires on it and was burried in a 3 foot snow bank. I was shocked (and not shocked) to be able to just drive it out of that snow without doing any shoveling. Amazing!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Tosh- an inexperienced driver needs to enlarge his safety margins as much as possible. Too many people confuse dumb-azzed luck with skill. Jack does hit the nail on the head with his comment, “when in doubt, stay home.” My dad drove commercial heavy trucks for a living and after attending multiple funerals for dead trucker friends, he developed the same attitude, “If the roads or weather is bad, why do you need to be out there?”

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Even when you drive a car fitted with snow tires, there is another compelling reason to stay home. All the people who drive without snow tires have spun out and abandoned their cars in the road. So no matter how good your traction, you can’t get anywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I put winterforce UVs on my 4×4 Ranger. If I had the time I could make a nice bit of scratch pulling people out of snowdrifts for $20 a pop.

      • 0 avatar
        Ko1

        “I could make a nice bit of scratch pulling people out of snowdrifts for $20 a pop.”

        A friend of mine had this same idea several winters ago. He very quickly found out that the roadside handshake doesn’t hold up in court and why tow truck companies are loaded to the nuts with extra liability insurance.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Totally agree with Jack.

    Snow tires if you can’t stay home.

    Stay home if you can’t afford snow tires.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    If only we would get that “climate change” the greenie loonies are talking about, then we wouldn’t need winter tires or to stay at home because of icy roads.

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      “Green loonies”? If you havent noticed any changes in the climate you must be living in a cave.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Climate change is predicted to make storms more severe and more frequent. This includes blizzards as well as hurricanes.

      Weather is really just a mechanism for moving energy around. As more energy is retained by the atmosphere it creates more peaks and valleys in the distribution of energy around the globe. The result of this is an increase in both the number and severity of storms as the energy tries to even out.

      This is true regardless of the cause of climate change.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Asdf – milder weather in my part of Northern Canada means more freeze and thaw cycles which wreaks havoc on roads. Milder weather also means more snow or worse, wet snow or freezing rain. Roads tend to be good in -25C or colder weather.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I don’t understand the logic. How do you justify going to a track and racing at high speeds – pretty much the definition of an unimportant, non-urgent trip – while advocating not driving in the snow? The mind boggles.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Call it risk vs reward – racing is risky, but you’re going in aware of the dangers (which you can work on mitigating), and might derive enough enjoyment from the experience to make it worthwhile. Odds are, whatever you were going to do on that excessively snowy day is something that can wait until a less risky time.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Participation in one risky activity doesn’t mean that you should try to be safe elsewhere.

      You don’t have to reduce risk in all areas of life to see benefits by reducing risk in some areas.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I have never been on a race track, but I have been to more than a few races. It is generally my understanding that when racing their is no oncoming traffic and if memory serves JB was in a near head on collision with the TC; rounding a bend other car went straight that sort of thing.

      Racing can be dangerous, but I don’t think fatalities per mile driven/raced on a race track comes close to fatalities per miles driven on US roads. I will concede that I could be wrong though.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        My recollection was that JB’s car slid sideways and was t-boned by an oncoming and blameless couple in a small suv. The Towncar exhibited remarkably little intrusion resistance, resulting in serious injuries to its occupants.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      As someone who drives my car on track I honestly feel safer there then on any highway. On track everyone is doing the same thing, going in the same direction and very much in a hyper attentive state. Thus it is pretty much the opposite conditions that occur during your daily commute, where nobody is paying attention.

      Can’t really comment on this S N O W stuff as I live in FL. However when it rains I try to avoid unnecessary travel. I’ve only been in two minor fender benders – in both cases someone hit my rear bumper because they couldn’t stop in time. And it was raining.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      He also commutes by motorcycle a lot of the time and has titanium bones due to recent-ish stunt bike accidents.

      I guess it is some combination of what Maymar and notapreppie said. Just because you get a rush from being a snake handler, no reason to start smoking.

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    Get the snow tires, and when the first snow falls, find a place where you can safely drive the car on unpacked snow, and see how that TCS kicks in. Its going to be unnerving, and at some point, you’ll want to know how to disable it to get the car in motion before turning it back on.

    When I was 17, I was driving myself, my sister, and her friend back and forth to high school located about 20 mins away. Our ’85 Pontiac Grand Prix was fitted with a set of snow tires – never got stuck despite what Mother Nature threw at New England.

    A few years ago, I got a ’13 Fusion, 1.6 Manual, with all-seasons. One inch of snow made the car damn near impossible to drive. That was it. No commuting at all when snow was in the forecast. I’ve driven a slew of other FWD drive cars in the snow – without a good set of snows, they’re all utterly useless.

    Take Jack’s advice though – stay off the road when the flakes fly. Your skill is not going to protect you from an idiot hooning around with bald tires, or a patch of ice next to a stone wall. Wait.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t know about the Golf, but TCS on my ’17 Jetta cannot be switched off.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        Was curious about this so I did a search. It looks like there isn’t a defeat button in the 2017 Golf. I have one in my 2012 wagon, so I’m surprised that it doesn’t exist in the current Golf.

        My wife has a 2014 Jetta and it doesn’t have a button at all. Apparently there is a way to wire one though, ECS Tuning has a how-to and the necessary parts.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      “find a place where you can safely drive the car on unpacked snow, and see how that TCS kicks in.”

      GREAT advice. My dad took me to a snowy parking lot when I had my learner’s permit to feel what it was like to slip, slide, and ABS modulation. He was too cheap to get snows, but really seeing what it was like to take 10x longer to stop drove home very important lessons.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Frank Galvin – great advice. I’ve been taking my sons out to drive especially my oldest who turns sixteen this winter. I will go to icy fields, muddy or slick construction sites, and off-road trails. They get to learn the width of the vehicle, grip and where to place their wheels. Last winter I found an ice covered meadow. I’d shut off the nannies and put my truck in 4×2. I showed him that you could drive around with minimal spinning and sliding then deliberately did some sliding and correcting. I then let him go at it. He was amazed at how hard it was to control. I told him that he most likely will play around on his own once he gets a licence. I pointed out that if he does, he needs to do it in a safe place.

      My ex’s best friend lectured me since she felt I was condoning reckless driving. I told her that he needs to learn and it was extremely naive to think that any boy won’t play around. Ironically, her nineteen year old son has wrecked two vehicles and ended up in the hospital once.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Snow tires are something that is mostly extinct, they are now winter tires and are optimized for use in cold temps and for ice as well as snow.

    To me they aren’t really about going out, they are about getting home. Around here it is common for the snow to move in mid afternoon to early evening. There has been more than on occasion that I could have been stuck on the side of the road somewhere had I not have the tires and vehicle that would get me home through the slippery stuff.

    So my kids cars and truck have winter tires on them and in fact last week I almost got myself stuck when I traveled up to the city where my kids go to school to get their winter tires on their cars, having taken care of their 4×4 pickup the previous week.

    Of course I had neglected to put mine on my own car and that snow that was threatening that prompted my Daughter to say “when are you changing my tires” actually showed up while we were eating dinner.

    I certainly could have stayed at one of their houses but had things to do in the morning back at home. So I ventured out to make it home on A/S tires and no chains in the trunk. Thankfully the area that was snowing was pretty small so I only had to make it about 10 miles out of town before the freeway was clear. I must say I was impressed with how well the Michelin Energy Saver A/S worked in the fresh snow but I’ll be digging out the winter tires and bolting them on today.

    So yeah he should have some decent winter tires not to go somewhere when it is snowing but to get home when it snows and to increase all around safety when it is cold and their could be icy spots here and there.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I was going to say, when my dad owned his ’69 Montcalm they came with the snow tire option (two snow tires in the trunk in lieu of the regular spare).

      *Those* were snow tires. Basically what we’d call an all-terrain tire today.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Scoutdude, that’s a good point. “Snow” tires used to mean tires with big solid lugs. They certainly helped.

      Then the Europeans figured out a few things. The first wss tread compounds that didn’t become hard in low trmperatures. The second was sipes. The soft compound allows the tread to deform so the sipes create hundreds of sharp little ridges that cut into the snow. Or melt into ice. Sort of like how windshield wiper blades work. You can see this for yourself by pressing against an edge of a winter tire tread block.

      For more traction on snow, the tread blocks are enlarged.

      The difference between modern winter tires and old fashioned snow tires is like the difference between old tire chains with chunky cross-pieces and newer thinner “diamond pattern” chains that keep chain in contact most of the time.

      It is argued that the older tires and chains are better at chewing through deep snow, but as long as there are tread blocks the new tires will chew. And you don’t need to chew if you have traction. Recent cars with the deep curved air dams will plow snow aside so you’re only driving in a few inches anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Snow tires” usually have a “M&S” stamp on the side wall meaning “mud and snow”. As a rule, any tire tread that works well in mud sucks on ice.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        That’s what the rednecks think about in their pickups and old 4Runners as they sit upside down in a ditch with their BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A’s spinning in the air.

        • 0 avatar
          IHateCars

          Actually, most (but not all) sizes of the BFG AT KO and KO2 have the mountain/snowflake symbol as appropriate for Winter driving use.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            You can just see that the BFG AT tires are not going to work like a fully siped tire. On the other hand if they are used cautiously in the winter they may be good enough that a second set of tires for winter use is not needed. It’s just that so many of those who buy these tire to conform to tough guy stereotypes are not inclined to drive cautiously. They also hate snowflakes.

            Here’s an excellent article comparing 5 tires, including the BFG AT KO2, in winter conditions. On the road course “grip was there, then it wasn’t.”

            http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2016/03/winter-tire-test-some-treads-are-better-than-others.html

          • 0 avatar
            IHateCars

            “You can just see that the BFG AT tires are not going to work like a fully siped tire.”

            I’ve been using both the KO and KO2 (315/70/17 and now 37/12.50/17) for years up here in Canuckistan with no issues. In fact, I’d go as far and say that they are great in the snow, and we get a lot of it. But I will agree that more siping is better, the DM-V2s that we put on my wife’s QX70 are an excellent Winter tire. It’s too bad they don’t come in a 37!

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Brian, get the dedicated winter tires. That’s because while you should stay home when you can, there will be times when you need to drive (how about because finals are today?} on some snow days. Winter tires do make a difference in your environment.

    What kind to get? Almost any of the popular winter tires will be fine. Bridgestone Blizzaks. Continental ExtremeWinter. General Altimax Arctic winter tires are an excellent budget option.

    Good luck with your tire selection, driving (in all seasons) and experience with your VW. And remember: Don’t hurry.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Don’t hurry is excellent advice. Start early to give yourself time to drive slow if necessary. Turn the music off and stay completely focused on driving. If the distance is long enough that driving as slow as 20 mph makes the travel time intolerable, wait for the roads to clear.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Finals thing almost burnt my son last year, despite the new winter tires on his car the hill out of where he lives is just too steep, long and with a gentle curve that he just couldn’t make it. Luckily his roomate’s Audi was able to barely make it and he was only a 1/2 hour late for his final. So when he went home after Christmas break he took our SUV with winter tires. This summer I bought a 4wd pickup to leave up there and it was outfitted with winter tires 2 weeks ago. So far he has engaged that 4wd on a couple of occasions to make it home or to school. It also doesn’t help that where he lives they will often get snow or drop below freezing when it 5 degrees warmer and raining just a few miles away in town.

  • avatar
    nlinesk8s

    Craigslist is a good place to pick up some “steelies” (base-level steel wheels) and maybe even a lightly-used set of snow tires.

    For myself, living in southern Ohio, we get so little snow these days that I just wait a couple of hours until the roads get cleared, rather than getting winter tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      With the Golf I’d bet there are a fair number of factory aluminum wheels on Craigslist that will fit as many VW cars should have the same bolt pattern and offset going back several years.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    ‘Inclement weather’. When I was travelling for the government, that was one of the first things that we learned regarding occupational health and safety. Stay home if it is too dangerous.

    Modern ‘winter’ tires are much different from the old ‘snow’ tires that people keep referring to.

    And while you’re at it, by some steelies to mount those winter tires on.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Growing up with my skinflint dad, one of my most vivid memories as a child was that of helping him push our Civic wagon on barely-legal worn all season tires up the hilly road that we lived on. He’d put my 12 or so year old brother behind the wheel, and then a 9 year old me and my dad would push. He also wacked the curb in our ’89 MPV traveling down that same hill, bending a control arm slightly. Once my brother and I started to drive (and make a bit of money), snow tires were near the top of the list. An absolute transformation in winter traction. We convinced him to get some junkyard steelies and cheapo Kelly snow tires for his ’07 Fit, sparing the uphill battles of the past. Despite this, once he bought my mom a nice low mile ’09 RX350, my dad was still stubbornly opposed to spending money on snow tires, claiming that AWD would compensate. I went ahead and bought them for them ($1200 with TPMS sensors and a set of 17″ alloys), he begrudgingly accepted the obvious help in braking distance coming down the hill.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Learning to drive and driving myself for 10 yrs or so in Great Lakes snow belt towns (mostly in relatively powerful rwd cars) was great driver training.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    In Madison WI nothing closes before -30F or a foot of snow in 12 hours. So going to work is hardly optional. Snow tires are expensive but not more than your life. Having driven a RWD S500 and FWD V70 on sonw tires I am convinced that they make a hell of lot of difference regardless of the drive. Get them. If you are on a budget you might be able to find a used set already mounted on rims for a fraction of the price of the new. An electric impact wrench can be had for $70 on Amazon with a decent jack+jackstand set at walmart for $30. No need to got to tireplace for replacement.

  • avatar
    86er

    In Saskatchewan, almost nobody stays home in inclement weather. It’s part of our western mythos that we will safely bring the cattle home (or something).

  • avatar
    ajla

    “It’s ever better to avoid unnecessary risk.”

    Depends on your definition of ‘unnecessary’ I guess.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Jack has good advice here: just stay home unless you can’t.

    My oldest daughter, who’s a new driver, has no experience with winter driving. Until she does, I’ll be driving her to the light rail on crappy mornings.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Going beyond winter tires, don’t buy cheap, off brand tires in general. It is not worth it! Always get the best tires you can buy in your size. It is better to drive a cheap car with expensive tires than and expensive car with cheap tires.

    • 0 avatar
      The Ryan

      +1. I always research which winter tires to get for my particular car (and the expected conditions for the region I live in). I was quite upset when my dealer put on lower quality tires than what I had paid for when buying my CX-5. Luckily it got sorted out before our big snow storm last week.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I don’t know if I fully agree.

      Definitely research your tires, but I was super happy with my off-brand “falkens”. Its one of those semi-off brands, which is one that most people call an off-brand, but its not one of the fake brands like “Lite Year” or “ChiipTyre”.

      I think its silly to buy “name brand” tires just for the name. Do your research, there are some GREAT tires that most people consider off-brands, such as “Falken”, “Kumho”, and “Nokian”. Frankly, I’d even add “Kenda” to the list. Speaking of winter tires, Nokians are really good despite 99.99% of the population never hearing of them.

      Do your research, but I don’t think just because its “off brand” its bad. It boggles my mind how many people buy the most expensive tires just because of the brand, even though they may actually be worse tires than a cheaper alternative. there’s a reason companies pay big bucks to advertise.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I wouldn’t call any of those that you listed off brand.

        The Ling Long and such, yeah I’d avoid. There’s also the cheaper store brands like Mastercraft, Arizonian, Big O’s store brand, Barum, Ohtsu. Not the best performing perhaps in terms of wear characteristics or noise or even grip, but safely constructed.

        I’ve made a bit of a habit of buying General brand tires (Continental’s budget brand) and have been very pleased with the Altimax RT43, Altimax Arctic, Grabber HTS, Grabber AT2. The RT43s were seemed loud on my 2012 Civic with horrible soundproofing, but are fine on my wife’s Camry. The Altimax Arctic on my 4Runner have been great. Nice ride, excellent snow and wet grip, minimal MPG hit, good price. The Grabber HTS were getting a bit loud at 40mph with 40k miles of wear (quiet at higher speed), but had good wet grip characteristics. The AT2s have been good as well, nice and quiet, good performance offroad from what I’ve seen so far, and again, a very attractive price compared to the BFG KOs they’re aping.

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          > I wouldn’t call any of those that you listed off brand.

          Exactly. Altimax RT43 and Altimax Arctic in particular are outstanding tires and not just for the price.

          I have also been using Nokian tires for decades. I would call them first tier, along with Michelin, Bridgestone, Pirelli and Continental.

          I have sworn off Kumhos after having a perticularly bad experience with them. Maybe irrational, but I would not put Kumhos or Hankooks on my car.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            We have Kumhos summer tires on our RWD Durango (Blizzaks for winter) and they are a great 3 season tire.

            Our Rogue came with Kumhos but they are a different model and they SUCK in all conditions. If yours were that model I can see why you would swear off of them.

            Our Avenger came with Goodyear Eagle LS tires and from mile 0 to when we replaced them they sucked in anything under 50*, especially if it was wet.

            The Cobra replica had Goodyear Blue Streaks on it and they gripped in everything. Tramlined like you wouldn’t believe though and that is why I got rid of them.

            The model you get in your tire can be night and day different even in the same brand.

            The Blizzaks on the truck transform it into a pretty capable machine getting me home on those bad weather days. I don’t have many hills but the ability to stop and steer is great.

            The car now has BFG Comp TA2 A/S and they are actually pretty capable in snow. Not ice, they don’t have the proper siping and compound for ice, but in snow they do very well and I will drive it if it is a light snow without any worries but if it is truly bad weather I take the truck if I need to get somewhere or if it looks like it will turn bad when I am sat work.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        When I think of off-brand, I think of linglong tires. Also Capitol, which I believe is a budget brand of a budget manufacturer (Nexen).

        Falken and Kumho are definitely not off-brand. Inexpensive, sure, but they fill the value role for buyers that don’t want to spring for something like Michelin or Pirelli.

        Nokian doesn’t have much brand recognition with the broader driving public, but at least with their winter tires I think of them as above Michelin; and they can be priced like it too. Nokian is pretty far from off-brand.

        • 0 avatar
          Advance_92

          I do wish it was easier to find Nokian tires online. Tire Rack is awfully easy but if there was good way to shop for them I’d like to get some Hakkapeliittas this or next year.

          • 0 avatar
            vvk

            > I do wish it was easier to find Nokian tires online.

            They are getting easier to find online. I just bought a set on eBay last week.

            Nokian is planning to build a factory in the US. They have also developed all-season models specifically for US sale. 80% of their production is in Russia.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            That ruble collapse really must have made Russian production attractive. The Russian market is itself a huge market for snow tires (many cars in Siberia simply run them year round), localized production probably alleviated some currency woes that otherwise would have priced Nokians out of reach of many Russian consumers.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It pays to do some research. Canadian Tire has their own brand called MotoMaster. Some are truly sh!tty but many are made for them by reputable tire companies like Cooper. Nokian may be “off-brand” in the USA but has a great reputation in Canada and Scandinavian countries.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I bought my car used in January and the Ford dealer had mounted new Armstrong winter tires. Chinese made. One of them is beyond the limits for balancing.

      They do fairly well on snow and ice, but when it comes time to replace them the choice will be Bridgestone. In my tire size the Bridgestones come with deeper tread than Michelins. And since effectiveness of winter tires depends on tread depth, that extra compound means a longer effective life.

  • avatar
    George B

    Jack, I disagree about recommending that an 18 year old guy stay off the roads when it snows. He’s a young adult who’s probably been driving several years and he’ll need to learn how to get home if it snows while he’s away at school. I’d have him practice driving on snow and/or ice on an empty parking lot. Once he learns how to drive his car on a slippery surface, he can start learning how to drive the route to and from school. The drive is relatively safe when very few people are on slippery roads and those drivers are driving slow. What’s dangerous are mostly clear roads with icy patches in shaded areas combined with people driving faster.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I could use the B&B’s advice on a similar question- I recently moved to middle TN, and while I’m not going to take my wide summer-tired RWD car out in any actual snow, what’s the minimum safe temperature for summer tires? I have a soft top Wrangler for the snow days (if we get any, it’s hit or miss here) but it’s pretty drafty so I hope not to use it too often.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It depends on who you ask but most recommendations are 40-45 degrees as the minimum summer tire temps.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I thought 40-45 degrees is where they start to lose traction, but you are probably OK until you hit freezing. After that it’s really hard to adjust your driving style to all the traction lost.

        I run summer tires in the SF Bay Area. Rear tires are 245s and it does get sketchy in the “winter” when it’s 45 and raining. Not bad enough for me to get seasonal tires, but it is noticeable. 45 and dry is a barely noticeable loss, but I do leave a bit more margin for error.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Below 7 Celsius or 45F is the temperature listed where summer/all-season tires get too stiff and start to loose grip. Some jurisdictions have mandatory winter tire laws between certain dates. In BC most highways and routes going into the mountains require winter tires between October 1st and March 31.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I worried about the effects of winter temperatures on my G37’s high performance summer tires. According to my tire shop, they do lose some traction but it’s nowhere near the difference between bare pavement and gravel during the summer. I am careful not to take the car out if there is any chance of encountering snow or ice. On that stuff, stopping distance from 20 mph is at least 100 yards.

  • avatar
    slap

    One of the best things about being retired is being able to stay home in inclement weather.

    I can drive in bad weather – it’s the other idiots out there that worry me.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Yeah, tried to convince my wife, that I can’t convince of anything that she should not drive to work on an icey day in Georgia. That the soft stuff that she was semi-competent at driving on the day before had refrozen. She was lucky, half mile away from our home she slid backward into a ditch, and not into a telephone pole. She did hurt her back a bit, but after a year it did get better. She still won’t listen to me.

  • avatar
    arach

    I’d love TTAC’s help on this:

    I listed my blizzak tires and wheels on craigslist, and we got a crappy offer that I’m going to take.

    In doing so, I was going to just live on all seasons and AWD.

    I’ve long been a praiser of snow tires, and loved having the snow tires on 2WD cars.

    However I came to the realization that here, in southern ohio, 99% of people don’t even have snow tires, and having AWD with All-seasons is probably better than 2 WD on all-seasons like everyone else is, and paying $200 to swap wheels every year is a waste of money and I’m too lazy to swap them myself.

    This post has me thinking twice about my decision. Should I undo my decision? Should I keep the tires? Or should I stop freaking out and just be happy with all-seasons. The car drives approximately 12 miles a day on roads that are generally plowed and salted.

    I don’t want to die, but I also feel like a psycho prepper putting snow tires on my car in Cincinnati, where we get enough snow or ice for snow tires like 5 times a year.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’d keep them but then again I still pull out the Jack and change them myself.

    • 0 avatar
      bobmaxed

      Well if you’re too lazy to swap your own I’d just stay home when it snows or gets below 32°

    • 0 avatar
      01 Deville

      “we get enough snow or ice for snow tires like 5 times a year.”
      Once is enough, ask Jack or someone in a similar situation.

      “$200 to swap wheels every year is a waste of money and I’m too lazy to swap them myself.”
      Buy a cheap corded impact 250 lbft min, and a floor jack, makes life much easier, and since you are lazy here are the links off amazon

      https://www.amazon.com/Torin-Hydraulic-Trolley-Floor-Capacity/dp/B002E1AYAY/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1510084237&sr=8-8&keywords=floor+jack

      https://www.amazon.com/Capri-Tools-32200-Powerful-Impact/dp/B019WZKUW6/ref=sr_1_10?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1510084314&sr=1-10&keywords=electric+impact+1%2F2

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Well,

      I should have known better when I asked the question, but the person who was going to buy my wheels and tires for 1/2 of market value is now getting a “no”. Now if he gives me close to full value I’ll still sell them, but I’m pulling down the listing.

      You crazy preppers convinced me.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        right decision, arach. follow the links above and change them yourself. do not be lazy about it… pop a beer, and you’ll get a lot of satisfaction from doing it.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think you should find another shop. $25 a corner to swap wheels/tires sounds high. It’s reasonable if you were dismounting summer tires and mounting the winter rubber on 19″+ wheels, but I think that is a rip off just to swap wheels with tires already mounted.

      A repair shop might not be thrilled with the task and will charge accordingly, but a tire shop might do this for free to earn your tire business. Possibly store the off-season wheels too.

      Doing this yourself is a nice opportunity to thoroughly clean your summer wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        You made the right decision to keep them. Do you rotate your tires? Well then swapping your summers to winters alleviates the need to do that. So there is no extra cost involved. As long as you have them mounted. So buy some steelies, which generally keep most of their value.

        And you will save the wear and tear on your summer tires. So again no extra cost involved.

        But haven’t we already had this discussion??????

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        @burgers , Kendahl, gtem :

        $200 includes storage at Porsche. It was just over $320 for storage and mount/dismounting at BMW, so I thought $200/yr was reasonable. I don’t know if tire places will store them all year for much cheaper.

        BUT I think I’ve pretty much been convinced of keeping them, hauling them back to my house, buying a storage shed for them, and swapping them myself… especially after I just learned on the porsche forum that you don’t have to reprogram the TPMS on these wheels!

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Our local shop does it for the same price as a rotation.

        I still do it myself with a torque wrench. I am looking at getting a small impact to spin them off and back on quicker since I am lazy, already have a compressor and it is $50 for a good enough impact.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      $200 to swap sets of mounted tires? That would be overcharging if the shop had to dismount and remount tires because you had only one set of wheels. The people you have been dealing with are thieves!

      Find an honest tire shop and buy from them when you need new tires. Ask about prepaying for rotation every 5,000 miles for the life of the tires. That will take care of switching between summer and winter tires at no extra cost.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I was going to say, locally I think the one time I decided to take wheels in (Was cold, I was feeling lazy) it cost maybe $15? That’s without TPMS, just swapping one set for another. Heck Discount tire does free rotations as I recall.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @arach – all wheel drive helps with acceleration and going up hills but has virtually no effect on stopping distances or turning.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        A point well worth making.

        But to dig into it a bit more…

        If there’s a locking or awd center differential, it will tend to keep the front and rear wheels turning at the same rate. Especially when engine braking. Braking systems are heavily biased to the front wheels, which causes the front wheels to lock up early on slippery surfaces. 4wd and awd reduce that problem and so will reduce stopping distances sometimes.

        Awd and 4wd allow engine braking to keep speed under control in many situations instead of using the brakes. I know from plenty of experience, some of it not so good, that engine braking with all wheels engaged down steep slippery roads is vastly superior to using the brakes. You just “walk” down with full dynamic traction at all corners instead of using the clumsy brakes.

        And for cornering, don’t awd rally cars go around corners faster than 2wd? Makes sense if the front wheels are pulling in the desired direction while the rears are pushing.

        But certainly having awd/4×4 results in many drivers going faster than is appropriate for cornering and braking.

        We used to creep down steep slipoery roads with rwd cars by putting the transmission in neutral so the engine wasn’t pushing against the brakes, and partly engaging the parking brake to counter the front brake bias. That wasn’t sufficient, so you’d gain some speed and hit the brakes. This would slow the car but lock up the front tires. So steering was also lost. Let off the brakes, regain direction but pick up speed again. Repeat as needed. Even threw automatics into reverse and gave them gas a few times.

        Then there’s abs. Standard advice is to hammer the brake pedal and let the system handle everything. But we’ve all seen video of modern cars sliding with all wheels locked up. Or experienced it ourselves. What gives?

        I think part of it is that abs does not work at very low speeds. And maybe not in reverse. Probably another problem is that if all four wheels are locked up, the abs thinks you are stopped and will not release any of the brakes. Which is exactly what you’d want if you really were stopped. But not if you’re sliding in ice. Which means you should revert to old-fashioned brake pumping.

        It amazes me that given the vast amount of automotive journalism devoted to driving in winter, these sorts of matters are never addressed. Are the writers too inexperienced at winter driving to know this stuff, or do they think it’s too complicated for a dumbed-down audience?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @brandloyalty – there are instances where 4×4 or AWD help with turning but for the majority of drivers, the odds are they will misuse it and make things worse.
          Compression braking is handy and useful in the right circumstances. If you are using compression braking then the odds are you are paying sufficient attention that one won’t need to test the limits of adhesion.

  • avatar
    bobmaxed

    North east Indiana here. I see very few people with snows. But I also live in a large city that does a good job of clearing the roads.
    Four years ago I had just bought new rims and summer tires for my Miata Daily driver. I put them on the first week of April. April 15’th we get a small freak snow storm and temps just above freezing. I had to take my son to work and then get to my job. Did fine till I came upon a frozen overpass. Slow speed encounter with high curbs and down a shallow bank. No one hurt but the Miata was totaled. Rims and tires ruined.

    When I was shopping for a Fiesta ST I was amazed that new car salesmen had no clue that the ST’s had summer only tires and were willing to let me take a test drive in any weather.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I bought a Camaro SS with new Pirelli Pzeros on it.

      Drove it 2 years. Goodness, when there was snow and ice, I couldn’t move an inch. Spun out a few times, had to have people push me out of parking spots. It was awful.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I’ve been considering snows since the AWD CUV left with my ex-wife. Some good deals on Craig’s, but my car has 205/55 R16s, and the tires available are 225s and 235s. I take it it’s a bad idea to go wider when putting on snows?

    • 0 avatar
      never_follow

      Look for twin sizes… 195/60, 185/65, 215/50 all work. Just check the load ratings and forums to see what does or doesn’t work.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Just get the same size in Winter tires….lots of options available in 205/55/16.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “I take it it’s a bad idea to go wider when putting on snows?”

      It’s not ideal. On winter road conditions, it’s best to get the tallest tire with the most sidewall and narrowest tread that you can fit. But it’s a compromise. The stock size will handle better any time the pavement is clean or just wet.

      If you want a good set of winter tires from an online classified site, you just need to be patient. Check it daily or more because the good deals sell quickly.

      I’m using 205/60R16 on my Mazda3. Stock size is 205/55R16. My buddy has 205/55R17 on his Legacy GT. Stock size is 215/45R17. In both cases, that is the smallest rim that will clear the brakes.

      Going up in sidewall height with the same width will give you a slightly narrower tread, as width is measured at the sidewall.

      You could check the forums to see what others are using, but often the discussions there are ridiculous, focusing on putting the widest rim with the least sidewall and the most outset and stretch on the vehicle.

      You can almost always increase tire size one step on either the sidewall or width, and often both. It’s not hard to check if there’s enough clearance between the tire and the suspension components, and between the tire edge and the fender with the wheel turned, to fit a larger tire.

      Vehicle manufacturers tend to leave enough room for chains, but with a decent set of winter tires a bit of extra ground clearance will be more important since you’ll only get stuck if you get hung up or have no idea what you’re doing.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    There’s another option, that I’m surprised to not see really mentioned: chains.

    Put them on and your all-seasons have all the traction you need for normal, sane driving in snow.

    Modern ones are much, much easier to put on than the old-school ones (you don’t need to drive the car over them!).

    Save them for when you Need To Go Out in the snow; if those 20 snow days are mostly consecutive, just *leave them on*.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Sigivald – it is the stiffness of the rubber compound that matters. You can be on bare roads with all seasons in 45F weather and be fine but in -30F you would have lost a significant amount of traction. That is the benefit of proper winter/alpine tires. Snow or ice on the road are secondary factors.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    NE Indiana here also! We have winter tires (on dedicated rims) for both our cars and can get pretty much anywhere anytime in acceptable safety. My Golf R is a blast to drive in snow, as was my E36 M3 back when it was a daily driver.

    As for just staying home, part of growing up is learning to show up for your obligations, whether school, work or whatever. Blowing them off through failure to plan isn’t good advice.

    Chains are a ridiculous suggestion, since they’re unusable on anything other than substantial snow cover. Unless you live in the high mountains or near the arctic circle, winter driving for most people is going to consist of a mixture of cleared roads and not yet cleared roads. Winter tires are made for that.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I was going to say, chains for anything other than an emergency situation or a off-road plow truck are a non-starter. I keep a pair in the back of my 4runner just in case (which has snow tires anyways), frankly have yet to use them.

  • avatar
    4drSedan

    Timely article. I’m Floridian recently transplanted to Ottawa, Ontario. For many folks here, putting on the winter tires is not even debatable. I survived last winter with my (crappy on a good day) Firestone all seasons. I had a brand new set of General Altimax Arctics in the garage. Being er…frugal, and since the city is great about clearing the streets, I figured I’d save the treadwear on the winter tires for better resale. I’ll never make that mistake again. I’m already running the winter tires.

    BTW, even some Canadians haven’t gotten the memo about the need for winter tires on their AWD cute-utes.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I’m surprised this issue is never “done”. Appropriate tires for appropriate seasons are appropriate. In the winter, I run Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 studs – as we often get icy roads, but little snow (then I wouldn’t need the studs). In the summer, we use Uniroyal Rainsport 3 tires on all our cars. Over the course of a year, we get about 220 days of rain here, and it never gets really hot. So Uniroyal’s “shoulder season” tire is perfect. It wouldn’t be if we would regularly drive above 200kph on a German Autobahn, but we don’t. Every tire has their application.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Southern Ontario here. We don’t receive as much snow as Ottawa, but we can get hit really hard. .With all season tires on my EB Mustang, no sense even trying to leave the garage.

    I run a set of Michelin X mounted on OEM wheels, from mid November till mid April. Expensive, and a bit of aggravation ? Yes, but 47 years of winter driving tells me its worth the time and the money.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    “… room-temperature-IQ …”

    Celsius or Fahrenheit? It makes a difference.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Consider a Winter driving school if there is one in your area. A couple of years ago, when my daughter was starting to drive on the highway where she could potentially get caught in bad weather, our whole family went on this one: http://www.beyond.ca/2017-sasc-winter-driver-training/23832.html. The course was not only useful, but a whole lot of fun!

    If there is no suitable course in your area, at the very least find a frozen lake or some similar place you can safely play around on the ice. The first time you spin a car on glare ice, you don’t want anyone else around.

    The advice given by Jack and others about staying home in inclemnent weather is, of course, good – but sometimes you get caught out by rapidly changing conditions, so it’s best to be prepared.

    In addition to training and proper Winter tires, you should also prepare for the possiblity of getting stranded or stuck. In Winter, you should have warm clothing, a fully charged cell phone, and an emergency kit in the car at a minimum. For long trips in remote areas, additional items might be worthwhile, such as a SPOT device for use in areas with no cell coverage, or food in case you are stranded for a while.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Nokian WR.

    That is all.

    (The ignorance of the tire-buying public astounds me.)

  • avatar
    backdoctor

    Jack, you’ve got the terms reversed. Urgent is the phone ringing, as you’re stepping out the door to go to an appointment for a job interview, or parole officer. If you answer the phone you’ll be late for the appointment.The latter is important, as it affects so much in your future, but doesn’t have URGENT written all over it, like a ringing phone. Important is stuff is that which can be put off, at our peril. And all too often we do that, as so much calls out to us as “urgent”. Answering the phone may be important too, or it can (and more likely will) distract you for doing what’s important.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    We used to have a Subaru wagon which means all wheel drive. It was tolerable on slippery surfaces with NEW all season tires. By the time they were half worn, it was pretty bad. It would still get up an icy hill but, if there was a couple of inches of snow on top of the ice, it didn’t have enough traction both to push the snow out of the way and gain altitude.

    Eventually, I got sick of this and invested in a set of off brand winter tires on steel wheels. The very next day, it snowed. I had to descend a sloping driveway onto a back road with a sharp crown and deep ditches on both sides. Since I expected to slide down the driveway, I carefully calculated where to position the wagon so that the crown would keep me from sliding off the far side without pushing me off the near side. To my surprise, I didn’t slide at all. Traction was almost as good as dry gravel. Later on, during the same trip, I passed a tow truck pulling a 4×4 pickup off a telephone pole.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I’ve crept down steep icy roads that were too slippery to stand on. I had to hang onto the vehicle just to stay in my feet. Whick means the tires had better tractiin than my shoes. One of those instances was just yesterday.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @brandloyalty – that reminds me of trail riding in the winter with dirt bikes. We were all running prepped nobbies with carbide steel ice-racing screws. There was an area popular with mountain bikers with a trail called “the chute”. It was a tough hill to climb in the summer but we rode up it like on flat ground. A buddy was in lead one time and missed a shift. He put his feet down to balance and fell on his head taking the rest of us with him. it was pretty funny. Sledders thought we were nuts since my KTM 620 would top out at 140 kph.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Some people drive BECAUSE there is snow. Such as to go skiing. Or many live in places with long cold winters.

    Just yesterday I drove up a 10 mile steep narrow out-sloping gravel road on the side of a mountain. No guard rail. The road was covered with snow that had been packed down, thawed, then froze into ice. Came across a 4×4 pickup that had lost traction while going up, slid backwards and was hanging over the downhill edge. Lucky the chassis caught up on the edge.

    I was sure I couldn’t make it back down without losing control, so I put on my diamond pattern chains and crept down ok at 20kph max.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Thirty-years of driving in Edmonton, Canada. Winter is 5-months of snow on the ground here. Currently driving a Lexus GS (rear wheel drive) and snows are an absolute must. As for trips not taken, yes, we’ve bailed on a few outings, whether around town, or down to Calgary due to weather. Also, after a big dump of snow I will leave for work 30-min later so the folks in the trucks and SUVs can compact the snow for me. But, top of the line snow tires are a modern miracle by my reckoning.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I’ve always bought sets of used oem alloys for winter tire sets. They are cheap, there are no fitment problems, they ride nicer because they are machined to better tolerances than pressed steel rims. They may even weigh less. And you then have spare oe rims.

    Look, people pay extra for alloys because they look nice. So why do they then run ugly steelies half the year?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I do the same, and if you are not in a rush you can get some great deals. It also helps to know what other vehicles from the same mfg are interchangeable. My best score was a set for my Wife’s old Fusion. $50 for all 4 with center caps and OE lug nuts. I paid $100 for mine with center caps.

      My trick is to buy them when I find a deal, even if I won’t be needing them for several months.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Scoutdude – I had found a site on line that listed bolt patterns and rim offsets for virtually every common brand. My Ford Ranger 4×4, 1968 Galaxie 500, my ex’s Sienna and Dodge Grand Caravan all had the same bolt pattern 4.5 x 5. The Sienna’s 16’s would fit on all of them but the larger brake rotors killed any swap the other way.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Yes, I got a set of oem alloys, in new condition, plus 4 70% good original spec low rolling resistance tires for $400. One new alloy rim would have cost that much.

        The cross comptibility info is useful, but there are so many used rims available that an exact match usually is easy. I once shipped a set of rare used alloys for a Grand Vitara across the continent for $25 per rim. Having an exact match is useful in case you ever need to replace a rim.

        From an enviro aspect it makes sense to get these used rims instead of causing manufacture of new steelies plus melting down the unwanted alloy rims.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Good all-season tires are good in one circumstance: cold, rainy weather. True summer tires get hard and slick in the cold.

    And that’s the weather we have six months of the year, with *maybe* one day of snow per winter.

    So I have “performance all-seasons” (which really just means “non-squishy all-seasons”) and recommend some form of all-seasons to most drivers in our area. I wouldn’t do that in either a place with snowy winters or the Sun Belt.

  • avatar
    SirRaoulDuke

    Ah, West Virginia. I lived there most of my adult life, at different locations, two of which were higher in altitude and got tons of snow. One thing I learned about WV is small differences in location and altitude can make huge differences in winter weather. I’ve came down the mountain I lived on, where we had a foot of snow, to rain in the valley. I’ve been driving up I-79 in rain and suddenly hit a freeze line of ice then went back to rain within a mile. And I’ve seen the TV mets totally blow their forecast, so staying home isn’t always an option, they may well tell in the morning there will be flurries and you end up with substantial snow due to temp changes, orographic lift, and just weird luck.

    The problem with winter isn’t always leaving. It is getting home when the forecast of light snow turns into real snow, and you have a steep driveway so getting parked is also an issue.

    My advice? Get dedicated winter tires mounted on some steelies. They will be your winter best friends for the next four years. Get some practice in the nice fluffy snows before it freezes overnight. Don’t venture out on the days when it is absolute crap. Your definition of crap as a young driver should be way lower than mine, know your skills are new and limited and other drivers are complete morons. Drive smooth, soft, and early: brake early, prepare to steer before you come to a turn. And you are not getting up that driveway with FWD on all-seasons. I’ve tried such stuff, it doesn’t work well lol.

    And I don’t know where in WV you live, but if it is anywhere especially rural prepare for the worst. Stuff happens. I always packed blankets, snacks, a collapsible shovel, some extra clothing layers, boots and wool socks, etc. Getting stuck twenty miles from Bumf**k in the dead of winter is not fun. Ask your father if he remembers 2009 when people were stuck on the WV Turnpike overnight in the snow…yeah, be prepared.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      And you don’t have to spend a bunch to get good winter tires. I was very pleased with Cooper’s winter tires. Never let me down and always got me to work and home.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Agreed. I had Firestone Winterforce tires for $58 a pop on my old ES300 on junkyard steelies, a bit loud but excellent traction in the snow as well as wet pavement. Likewise on the parents’ Fit we have junkyard Civic steelies and Kelly-brand snow tires. For the local hilly driving that car is used for, they are perfect and didn’t cost very much.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    Actually, my decision is made for me. Quite simply, if my snows are not mounted by November 20 my insurance is no good. No appeals. just no good. Given that I live in the snow belt of Ontario, that’s no bad thing. Maybe, here, it should be universal.

  • avatar
    NoID

    For a long time I had the four-square urgent/not urgent & important/not important weekly task matrix on a white board at my desk. Then one day someone opined that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to broadcast to passersby that I was prioritizing anything that was NOT important. So I changed it to Value Added / Not Value Added.

    As for winter tires, I just had a set of Courser MSRs mounted on The Beast and I’m itching to try them out. The old Hankook i-Pikes go on the Tinivan this weekend, hopefully there’s a full season left in them.

  • avatar
    cleek

    A VW in WV with AWD is SOL.

    Get the winter tires

  • avatar

    While I get what/why Jack is advising, doesn’t that also preclude getting experience driving in the winter? I know there are degrees to which driving is “safer” as opposed to less “safe” in the winter – light snow, no wind, light to no traffic as opposed to heavy wet (or even light, dry) snow, 40-60 mph winds, heavy traffic. I’m sure there’s an easier way to get the experience driving in difficult conditions, but sooner or later one is going to be in a difficult position and the learning will start then like it or not.

  • avatar
    vtnoah

    Gotta love the Eisenhower decision matrix. As a manager, I use it a bunch. Glad to hear I’ve got at least a room temp IQ. Living in VT my whole life I’ve driven everything from the aforementioned Saab 900 with shitty all seasons to various Subaru’s with Blizzaks. After making the switch to winter tires, I’m not going back. Especially now that I’ve got two kids to look after. Not only do winter tires help you get going, they more importantly help you stop in a more reasonable distance. The best daily driver for VT’s shitty roads is in fact a Subaru or a CUV. You get a little extra ground clearance to deal with insane potholes, frost heaves, and mud holes plus the AWD to help you get out if you do get stuck. The added benefit is you get better mileage vs. a traditional body on frame SUV.

  • avatar
    shifterbrains

    Let’s go back for a moment to Brian’s original question. Is it necessary for a new driver to get snow tires? Apparently, his safety is Dad’s priority.
    Snow Tires are made for snow. If you have snow, makes sense to use them.
    What about dollars and cents? Consider that if he’s going to school for the next 4 years, assuming he does decent amount of driving, he will go through 2 sets of tires anyway maybe even be on his third by the time he’s done.
    Rather than starting with new ‘all seasons’ in first winter, having well worn tires by second winter and then repeating the process, why not start with the winters and switch to the AS’s for summer. This way, you’ll get better margin of safety on proper winter tires during winter, and your original tires last you 3 if not 4 summers.
    In the end, you’re not paying much more and getting the benefit of proper tires for proper conditions.
    Having said that, I agree with Jack that many OE Tires are no-season tires where they do a mediocre job at best in most conditions and excel at none.
    Do your homework on the selection of the replacements and you’ll appreciate the improved ride and handling.
    Also, spend a few hundred bucks on taking a winter driver training course. Staying home during a blizzard is one thing, but in areas where snow fall is a regular occurrence during the winter, unless you hibernate, you’d better be prepared to drive in snow conditions.

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