By on December 12, 2017

public domain

As I type this, the first flakes of this winter’s first real dumping of snow are falling lazily outside my window. By morning, the landscape should resemble the countertop in a Studio 54 bathroom. Then the real fun begins.

Carefully gauging your braking distance and leaving more room between your car and the car ahead, wondering all the while if that Rogue you can’t see around is hugging the back bumper of the car in front. Wondering what’s going to break loose first on a highway off-ramp — the front end or the rear. Trying to coax frozen wiper blades off the windshield without leaving the rubber strip behind. Downshifting at the top of hills. Trying to clear freezing rain off your windows without turning into William H. Macy in Fargo.

Never mind what happens in the ritzy ski lodges of Sweden and the Alps. Winter sucks. The only perk is it’s a lot easier to make a U-turn, assuming there’s no cops around and your vehicle’s e-brake isn’t of the electronic kind.

Depending on where you call home, you’ve probably switched your seasonal rubber by now. Or have you?

Maybe you should have made the switch, but didn’t. It might be a mild winter, you thought. After all, last year’s wasn’t so bad. You figure you can get away with it. Perhaps you’re living right on the meteorological border of “Why would anyone bother?” and “They’ll find me when spring rolls around.”

A few winters back, I ended up spending the “cold” season driving around with snow tires filling my trunk and backseat after the blizzards one would expect of the Great White North failed to materialize. With nature not fulfilling its end of the deal, they eventually headed back to the corner of the garage.

Maybe there’s no laws on the books in your frigid jurisdiction — and no money-saving clauses in your insurance policy — to make the switch worthwhile. This assumes, of course, complete confidence in your driving abilities and a fingers-crossed outlook on any incidents requiring rapid reaction that might crop up on the highway. This was my go-to plan for years: an old front-drive car, and a set of the cheapest all-seasons rotated front to back every year.

School’s not cheap, and adding two new tires each November worked year after year.

The clouds parted and the sun shone through when I finally bought my first set of Blizzaks. A revelation. I finally realized what I had been missing all those years. It was all the more timely, as that particular car, an ’03 Grand Am, “benefitted” from General Motors’ supremely horrible anti-lock brakes, seemingly carried over unchanged from a ’93 Corsica I owned years earlier. When the car detected a slippery surface, it “saved” its occupants by simply not trying to stop. Snow tires, and sometimes the added drag of a parking brake-induced sideways drift, came in real handy.

Why, GM, why?

But back to the question at hand. Do any of these scenarios ring a bell? Are you playing with fire this winter (and perhaps every winter) by not swapping your summer rubber? Why? And how much of the white stuff should a driver expect to tolerate before adding a set of snows to his or her life?

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151 Comments on “QOTD: Are You Getting Away With Not Having Grip?...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Was the car’s suspension within alignment specs? Tire pressures? When grip is low all of those play a role in how a vehicle will react on a slippery surface.

    A good alignment and snow tires will be thr perfect match regardless of which wheels are drive; fwd, rwd, or awd.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Strictly speaking, all of those things play a role in how a vehicle reacts on any surface (first mod most people do in autocross is an alignment).

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        First mod?! When I ran autocross in my youth I did alignment before each race. Thankfully, it was super trivial to dial in extra negative camber on my SAAB. 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I just did my swap this past weekend. I was torquing the lug nuts when the first flakes started falling.

    The wife’s car got a new set of Pirelli Cinturato winter tires on 15″ rims, while I put the Altimax Arctics back on for one more winter before I do the TDI buyback.

    I’m a winter tire convert now, they do make a big difference compared to all seasons. I wish it was law to run them in Maine, like it is in Quebec.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I’m always surprised by how much of a different snow tires make.

    Until, that is, last year when the nearly new OE “no season” Yokohama Avid S34FV tires on my CX-3 outperformed the Michelin X-Ice tires I had leftover from the new Mazda’s predecessor. Plenty of tread on both but the snows were 6 years old and the rubber must have hardened.

    So that’s another wrinkle to keep in mind: tires can go bad even if they don’t wear out.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I’m dealing with this now. I cheaped out and bought a set of wheels and tires from a guy on craigslist. They had the TPMS mounted and were ready to rock. I was pleased as the tires had the vast majority of the tread left so I figured $800 was a good price for the whole lot.
      Fast forward to me actually putting them on–first drive it was like they were made of the same hard plastic that a big-wheel might use. I did the only sensible thing and burned a layer off in an empty parking lot. The issue seemed to go away.
      Fast forward to the first snowfall and I’m realizing that the tire compound has hardened and I paid way too much for bad tires. While I’m not sure how my Camaro handles with good tires, I can say the thing is very much a handful. I turned off traction control to see what I was dealing with and went ass-first into a curb the first time I took a turn at more than a walking pace. Getting up my own driveway which is a gently sloped is to be undertaken with care.
      I’ve never bought used tires before this and I will most certainly not do it again. My BMW with Blizzaks handled wonderfully in the snow, the Camaro with used tires–it’s downright scary.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Zamoti, That stinks! Did you check the manufactured date on these tires? Perhaps they are quite old? Otherwise are they from a no-name manufacturer? Or perhaps they were stored improperly?

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          They’re Goodyear Eagle Ultragrips so they’re not bobo brand cheapos. However, I should have attempted to figure out the manufacture date before I bought them. I guess I could try and figure out which number to decode, but if they’re like seven years old, I don’t even wanna know. Even if they’re not old, they could have sat in someone’s backyard in the sun and elements. They look fine and the wheels are in perfect shape (no curb rash or anything). I worked myself into a lather thinking that finding a wheel/tire combo that fit my SS was the deal of the year. A new set from the tire rack was pushing close to $1500 once you threw the TPMS and shipping in. Got greedy.
          Maybe I’ll just do the whole tire soaking thing in various caustic chemicals to soften them up. What could go wrong?

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I’m playing a little with fire – driving a FWD Countryman with run flats, second set of the same model/brand that came OEM with the car. It’s not bad but not great. The crushed snow turned to ice provides some traction challenges but most of driving is in the city which is usually plowed/salted.

    This Saturday morning we got hit with a few inches of snow so I decided not to go to a record (as in vinyl) show because of the conditions and my tires.

    Going in for new Blizzaks this Thursday.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    When it snows down here they just shut the city down. I’m on DWS06s year round

    • 0 avatar
      rehposolihp

      I’m running the same. And I hear that the DWS06’s are supposed to have a modicum of snow traction anyway.

      Of course, Atlanta got snow last weekend – about a week after I noticed that my rear tires were at the wear bars. Needless to say I did not experiment to see how much grip the tires offered.

    • 0 avatar
      jlbg

      Same. I run Pilot Super Sports year round. If it snows enough where it’s an issue, I just ‘work from home’.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’ve got DWS06s on the LS. In addition to being incredible in the rain, they do just fine in non-icy snow conditions during the first half of their lifespan.

      But who am I kidding… if it’s snowing, especially if there’s any chance of icing, I’ll be walking anyway. I live on a hill and there is no flat way to leave my house. Snow happens here maybe once every couple of years so it’s no big deal.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    I haven’t been sold on winter tires.

    However, I do notice the difference between RWD and FWD in the snow. RWD rocks! I’ll drive any RWD car in the snow, even a 1970’s car! FWD? They are fair to OK at best. RWD pushes and front steers. FWD has to do both (pull and steer). Can’t do both equally, especially uphill.

    I had a ’07 Magnum SXT RWD with Michelin Symmetry all season tires. Unstoppable. No sandbags, one person and he just plows through snow. My ’16 Chrysler 200S FWD has factory Kuhmo tires. Terrible in snow. Can’t wait till they are gone. Other FWD cars I’ve owned were OK, but not as good and ANY of the RWD cars I’ve had.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      I had a Buick Roadmaster that was great in the snow, even on all season tires.

      On the flipside, my ’94 2WD Nissan truck wasn’t so good with all seasons. Hills were especially bad, and I would have to get a running start to climb them. Being a broke just-of-college guy, I just put 200-300lbs of sand in the back and went for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      This mirrors my Great White North winter driving experience. I never installed snow tires on the RWD domestic cars I drove for decades. They’re required on the FWD Japanese cars we have now.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      We went from OEM to BFG Comp T/A 2 A/S on our Avenger and it was night and day difference. Now, if it happens to snow when I am at work I don’t worry that I will be stuck in the parking lot. They do fairly well in up to a few inches of snow but they don’t grip the slick stuff like winter tires.

      I put the Blizzaks on the truck as soon as it got below 40* for a few days. If the weather is bad, we just take that if we need to be somewhere or I will take it to work if they predict significant weather.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Oh yes the joys of nostalgia and wishful thinking.

        Nothing like running 1950’s to 1980’s RWD drive vehicles. Fishtailing, skids, backend trying to outrun the front end, pushing cars that got stuck, not enough weight over the drive wheels. Oh yes the joy and the fun.

        FWD may not be perfect. Yes the same wheels pull and steer but the weight is over the drive tires. And anyone involved in physics or physical activities will explain the benefits of pulling rather than pushing.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          Arthur – – –

          A: “Nothing like running 1950’s to 1980’s RWD drive vehicles. Fishtailing, skids, backend trying to outrun the front end, pushing cars that got stuck, not enough weight over the drive wheels.”

          Nonsense. Put some weight over the drive wheels, dummy. Use proper, appropriate NEW tires. Get a vehicle with manual transmission. Practice winter driving when the snow comes. Start-up traction has NOTHING to do with the better weight distribution for high-speed ability, and has NOTHING to do with STOPPING ability! Capiche?

          A: “And anyone involved in physics or physical activities will explain the benefits of pulling rather than pushing.”

          More nonsense. Show me your references for this grand conclusion. And tell that to the rocket engineers, who for some uncanny reason, seem to have been putting the engine and the power delivery IN THE BACK.

          You can also tell that to all the auto manufacturers who are switching back to RWD because of its greater stability and performance advantages, — and, in this era of “nannies”, provides better than comparable traction. FWD is just a cheap substitute for a proper drive train.

          =========================

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Here is just one link to prove that pulling is generally more efficient than pushing.

            https://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-easier-to-pull-a-heavy-object-than-to-push-it-on-a-level-ground

            The National Motoring Association has researched the field and declared FWD to be better in the snow than RWD. They state that “FWD is vastly better in the snow than a rear-wheel-drive car. ”

            https://www.motorists.org/blog/winter-driving-rwd-fwd-awd-4wd/

            Your use of childish language and yelling is unworthy of this forum, where I generally learn from other commentators.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “And tell that to the rocket engineers, who for some uncanny reason, seem to have been putting the engine and the power delivery IN THE BACK”

            Relevance, Your Honor!

            Although I am curious as to how you would propose putting a space shuttle or rocket behind a rocket engine without incinerating it.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            Arthur – – – –

            A: “https://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-easier-to-pull-a-heavy-object-than-to-push-it-on-a-level-ground”

            This is inapplicable.

            From the link: “Notice that F*sinθ acts downwards along with the weight m*g and therefore increases the normal reaction N (Normal reaction is equal to sum of all the vertical forces). And friction is directly dependent on Normal reaction; More is N more is the frictional force.”

            What you need is the vector component to push DOWNWARD in snow for more traction, not UPWARD, as created by FWD.

            A: “The National Motoring Association has researched the field and declared FWD to be better in the snow than RWD. They state that “FWD is vastly better in the snow than a rear-wheel-drive car.”
            https://www.motorists.org/blog/winter-driving-rwd-fwd-awd-4wd/”

            The NMA has a history of naive and simplistic analyses. And that article dates from 2010! FWD was ONLY better on ice in a static startup situations compared to a RWD vehicle with empty trunk and no traction control (TC) systems. Their conclusions no longer apply for modern RWD start-up traction; they do not apply for TC systems generally; they do not apply for high-speed stability on slippery substrates (RWD better); and they do not apply for braking performance (RWD hugely better).

            A: “Your use of childish language and yelling is unworthy of this forum, where I generally learn from other commentators.”

            My language was neither childish not “yelling”. I used caps in a few key words for emphasis, since this comment section has no ability to provide underling or color. And it was meant to show you that your conclusion re FWD are obsolete, —- or the best car (and BTW, truck) manufacturers would not be using RWD, would they? And anyone who does performance driving will tell you similar story: how many race cars do you see with FWD?

            Maybe I should not have teased you about “dummy”. I apologize. Although at your age, you should have known better (^_^). Shame on you…

            =====================

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            30-mile fetch – – –

            30: “Although I am curious as to how you would propose putting a space shuttle or rocket behind a rocket engine without incinerating it.”

            (^_^)… Yeah it’s a bit difficult. But it can be done, awkwardly, like FWD:

            https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/robert-goddard-and-first-liquid-propellant-rocket

            ======================

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “You can also tell that to all the auto manufacturers who are switching back to RWD because of its greater stability and performance advantages . . .”

            Stability is understeer. It’s what FWD does best.

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/avoidable-contact-color-my-world-the-case-for-front-wheel-drive/

            “What you need is the vector component to push DOWNWARD in snow for more traction, not UPWARD, as created by FWD.”

            The weight transfer resulting from acceleration in slippery conditions is negligible.

            Both FWD and RWD can be competent and fun in snow with proper tires and differentials. As far as I know, the two front-engined layouts (FR and FF) are equally competitive in 2WD rally classes.

            FWD is certainly more forgiving though. I’d never use cruise control on an icy highway with RWD like I do with FWD or AWD/4WD.

            As for the pushing vs. pulling, I do have an anecdote that I haven’t completely sussed out. I had to move my buddy’s G35 with nearly-bald 255 rear tires around from his garage to his driveway last month to install some winter tires for his lady friend while he was out of town. It was capable of moving in reverse in the snow far better than forward. I was able to back out of the garage into the snowy alley and proceed forward on the packed snow around the block to the front, with hilariously low grip. But when I tried to put it back in the garage, I was unable to make any progress going forward through the snow. So I backed up for a run at it, but ended up off the packed snow and had to drive backwards around to the front. It was simply incapable of forward progess. I left it in the driveway, which is closer to its winter hibernation spot that it swaps with the Hakka8-shod Legacy GT anyway.

            I’m thinking that maybe those wide rears were able to dig up a bit and float over the snow to pack it down into tracks while moving backwards, while being unable to force the narrower 235s in front, with more weight on them, through the fresh snow. Regardless, nobody should be driving in winter with anything resembling that tire setup.

          • 0 avatar
            big al

            The best vehicles I had in the snow before I had a 4×4 pickmeup were,1/ a 67 Caprice wagon,327,3 speed auto and 2/ a 75 Chev 2wheel drive pick up. I ran both into a logging camp on the North end of Vancouver Island. The Caprice(beautiful one owner) with just snow tires on the back,would plow snow just about up to it’s hood and the truck, with studded snowies on back and just plain snowies on front, would go through 2 feet of snow with no problems. And we’re talking 11:00 Sunday nights on the way to camp and there ain’t NOBODY around for 45-50 miles quite often. One did learn to drive in snow or perish, you might say.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I’m in the mid Atlantic US. Had winter tires once on a Mazda. They were great, but I did fall into the trap of overconfidence one or two times. Since then I’ve relied on good all seasons, and I’ve come to appreciate winter wipers more than winter tires. My meh Focus does pretty darn well with Michelin Premier A/S and traction control.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        Man, i zipcar’ed a focus once when my audi was buried in snow and i was just too lazy to clear it. That thing was really great in snow! Quiet and confident. I was really impressed!

    • 0 avatar
      Trichobezoar

      Huh, I would argue just the opposite. If you get stuck in the snow or ice, FWD will allow you to rock out not just front and back but also side to side. Particularly if you don’t have some sort of trick diff, RWD will get you stuck if just one tire loses traction.

      Also with FWD, I only feel compelledSC to put snow chains on the front rather than all four wheels. Aware of the dangers of losing the rear end, but I simply don’t drive that fast when conditions are that bad.

      My main concern is not getting stuck… so snow chains have been more useful than snow tires for any driving conditions I care about.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Traction is what it’s all about and FWD put the weight on the driven and steering wheels. Other than that just slow down and don’t be stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Polishdon – – –

      P: “I haven’t been sold on winter tires.”

      Agree. This is a mixed bag. There is such a thing as TOO MUCH traction at the cost of other things. My Blizzak’s are now sitting in the basement, Mother’s Protectant-treated and under wraps. They were WAY too aggressive in the snow.

      I don’t need tank tracks. The Blizzak’s cost me a ton of acceleration and ~2 MPG on fuel mileage. I don’t need to climb Mt Everest. I put on General Grabber HTS 60’s instead. Very happy with them: they have “adequate”
      winer traction (for those who have the proper vehicle and REALLY know how to drive), and run well in the other three seasons too.

      =======================

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Winter tires are not as much about starting as they are about stopping (STOPPING). The key is the softer rubber composition in cold weather.

        So your focus appears to be ‘on the wrong end’.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          Arthur – – –

          Nobody I know actually buys winer tires because of their better “stopping” ability. They buy them because of their better “going” ability on snow and ice (^_^)..

          =====================

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        As for the knowing how to drive argument, that is specious at best.

        Things can happen quickly and unexpectedly and as any motorcycle driver can tell you, what is most dangerous are the other drivers.

        Personally after learning from The Old Man who was a member of and a driving instructor for the local Police Service, and now personally having driven over 40 years, over 100 different vehicles, more than one and a quarter million miles, having spent some time instructing driving, and driving professionally I consider myself an experienced driver, who while perhaps not in JB’s ‘class’, certainly ‘knows’ how to drive. And yes, I do drive an MT as my daily driver and actually disengage the traction control in many winter driving conditions.

        Here is an article by Doug DeMuro outlining why FWD is preferable to RWD in the snow.
        https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/why-doesnt-rear-wheel-drive-work-in-the-snow-228499

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          Arthur – – –

          ..and here is a more balanced view from Kelley Blue Book:

          https://www.kbb.com/car-advice/articles/which-wheel-drive-is-best-for-you/

          If you read the 1st comment to your DeMuro link (from Jack Brace), you will see why DeMuro’s comments are superficial at best:

          “Rear wheel drive is FINE in the snow. Cars with stability control (ESC) won’t fishtail and it will be nearly impossible to lose control unless you are actively trying (Even then you might not be able to cause the car to lose control).. ESC was made mandatory on all cars as of 2012, and most had it before then.. So the fishtailing argument is invalid. Don’t believe me? Go try it in the snow with any RWD car made past 2012. ESC is the most significant safety tech since seatbelts, yet most people have no idea it exists. Today’s RWD cars have 50/50 weight distribution too, old ones didn’t.. Front drive cars are usually 60/40.. So really only 10% better traction, and that’s only on level ground. Up hill the weight shifts to the rear, which is better for a RWD car going up the hill. This is why if you can’t get a FWD car up a snowy hill, it does better in reverse. Also the tires today, even all seasons, are WAY better in the snow, as long as you get ones rated highly in those conditions on Tirerack.com. So let’s stop spreading the myth that RWD is bad in the snow.. It’s just not true. It was a myth created when the only RWD cars out had Summer tires, a heavy front end with an iron block engine, and an open rear differential. Today’s RWD are a completely different animal.”

          And, BTW, I INTENTIONALLY induce some fish-tailing to let me know what’s going on “down there”. FWD masks that ability: it grips and grips but then lets go all at once: there is less perception of a gradual loss of traction.

          Again, bottom line:

          1) For better sports performance; better tire wear; better vehicle balance; better weight distribution; better handling; better high-speed stability; for manual-transmission downshifting to provide a rear “drag” effect**; and for better STOPPING ability — Get RWD;

          2) For a cheaper car, for more interior room, for slightly better fuel mileage, and for better startup on ice (all else equal) — Get FWD.

          In other words, if you non-speciously REALLY know how to drive, and care about your vehicle’s COMPREHENSIVE capabilities, then you wouldn’t be caught dead in a FWD car! (Or actually, you might be caught dead in one if you were a passenger…(^_^).)

          FWD cars are mostly little “practical” econobox appliances for people who would be better off taking the bus or an autonomous vehicle someday. In other words, FWD is for people who don’t really care greatly about driving. Secretaries come to mind….

          ———–
          ** You can do an emergency manual-transmission downshift in a FWD car, but you will destabilize it, causing it to “trip” over itself and induce the back end to come visit you up front! (Don’t ask me how I know..)
          ———–

          ==========================

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @NGOM: First you wrote “You can also tell that to all the auto manufacturers who are switching back to RWD.” So please tell us all of the FWD models that are being replaced by RWD models.

            Then you wrote: “Nobody I know actually buys winer tires because of their better “stopping” ability.” Well if you watch any advertising regarding winter tires or read the reviews on them, the area that they focus on is their ‘stopping’ ability.

            Finally @rpn453 clearly refutes your arguments regarding RWD v FWD.

            When an argument is built on logical fallacies, it is by definition unsound.

            RWD has been usurped. In high end and competition vehicles by AWD. In daily drivers by FWD.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            Oh Arthur, dear Arthur – – –

            You have such a delightful way of avoiding issues and facts altogether!
            Did you even read AND understand my email above?

            Well, be that as it may…

            A: “So please tell us all of the FWD models that are being replaced by RWD models.”

            1) http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/gearbox/2003/04/why_frontwheel_drive_sucks.html
            https://jalopnik.com/the-next-volkswagen-beetle-could-go-electric-and-rear-w-1820371742

            2)
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Rear-wheel-drive_vehicles

            As a more direct single example, Hyundai used to be FWD only, and then made the Genesis to be RWD ONLY, because of its superiority:
            https://www.genesis.com/us/en/genesis.html

            A: “Then you wrote: “Nobody I know actually buys winter tires because of their better “stopping” ability.” Well if you watch any advertising regarding winter tires or read the reviews on them, the area that they focus on is their ‘stopping’ ability.”

            People can watch any advertising they like, but my comment stands as is: Folks get Blizzak’s because they GO! … and I live in heavy snow/salt state. I have dozens of friends in car clubs. NOBODY actually BOUGHT Blizzak’s with the primary motive of their stopping ability.

            A: “Finally @rpn453 clearly refutes your arguments regarding RWD v FWD.”

            I read it. Anecdotal testimonies don’t “refute” anything. It’s full of fallacies, and it is his opinion after all. Example:
            “Stability is understeer. It’s what FWD does best.”
            As I already said, FWD can give you the “illusion” of stability because it masks the slipperiness underneath, and then lets go all at once, without warning, — and with virtually no ability to correct.

            Anecdote (just so you know): In my 35 years of commuting in winter, I noted that the 1st cars that went off the road were little FWD econoboxes, whose drivers were often standing besides their now ditched cars, as scratching what was left of the hair on their heads. And the 2nd most prevalent vehicle that got “ditched” were big AWD SUV’s whose owner obvious thought they were immortal. The old 2WDRWD cars and picks were providing some feedback by wiggling a bit, and then their owners knew to SLOW DOWN.

            A: “When an argument is built on logical fallacies, it is by definition unsound.”

            Yup. So, when are you going to shape up?

            A: “RWD has been usurped. In high end and competition vehicles by AWD. In daily drivers by FWD.”

            Nonsense. See my references above. And then tell that to sports-car drivers; race-car divers, pickup-truck drivers, tow-truck drivers, semi drivers, and performance-car drivers (Like Mercedes and BMW drivers)

            Ince I have driven in “competition”, AWD in vehicles is a mixed bag (ALL ELSE EQUAL): the added slow-speed benefits of “digging out” of sharp corners in the rain or loose gravel is mostly outweighed by the added weight, HP consumption, and drag from the FWD components when used on dry pavement. For example, Audi (an AWD manufacturer) now prefers to race the Nurburgring in the LTM GT3 class with RWD only.

            Oh Arthur, if only you knew what you were talking about, and had some actual driving experience, — of all types — you might actually understand what I am trying to tell you… (^_^)…

            =====================

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “As I already said, FWD can give you the “illusion” of stability because it masks the slipperiness underneath, and then lets go all at once, without warning, — and with virtually no ability to correct.”

            There’s no illusion here. I drive to the limit of my tires year-round in all conditions at all times and have since I was a teenager, including slippery winter roads every single day for four months every year, and I have owned FWD, RWD, and 4WD vehicles.

            How do you figure that steering corrections work any differently with FWD than any other layout? If you can move your hands fast enough to stay ahead of the vehicle, it doesn’t even matter whether it’s engaged to a drivetrain or in neutral.

            The following line suggests to me that you have experienced the only stability problem that most FWD cars will ever experience: their owners putting worse tires on the back of the car than the front.

            “You can do an emergency manual-transmission downshift in a FWD car, but you will destabilize it, causing it to “trip” over itself and induce the back end to come visit you up front! (Don’t ask me how I know..)”

            That ill-advised tire setup resulted in a reversed perception of the effects of braking distribution. If you want more understeer on corner entry, dial the brakes forward. If you want more oversteer, dial them rearward. Likewise, a poorly executed mid-corner or corner entry downshift in a FWD vehicle is likely to cause understeer while the same would cause oversteer with a RWD.

            “In other words, if you non-speciously REALLY know how to drive, and care about your vehicle’s COMPREHENSIVE capabilities, then you wouldn’t be caught dead in a FWD car!”

            Unless you’re too poor for a second vehicle (like me), you wouldn’t be driving a RWD vehicle through a real winter either. Full-time, fully mechanical AWD/4WD (or rear-biased/vectoring electronic) is much more enjoyable. RWD can be fun for ripping around the city in winter but it’s like driving in slow motion, and I have no interest in relying on electronics and their spooky interventions when I’m cruising icy highways.

            Of course, the reverse is also true. I’d only continue driving the AWD in summer if I couldn’t afford a second RWD vehicle.

            But very few drivers care about the details of performance driving dynamics, so FWD is the most practical and efficient choice for the typical driver.

            Anyway, I think you’re getting carried away on the hyperbole. I could pick apart some things in Mr. Dailey’s comments but I think he was genuinely trying to have a discussion instead of a peeing contest. His original comment may have been overly general and not applicable to all RWD vehicle situations, but it was the typical experience of a Canadian in that time period: driving numb, front-heavy, open diff land yachts or 2WD pickups with bad tires, big torquey engines, and automatic transmissions. The average driver probably did see a major improvement in winter driving performance when switching to a new FWD, manual transmission, communicative, compact car on new tires. And since I’m talking Canada here, the manual transmission compact car was the norm.

            I don’t think anybody here is under the illusion that a FWD vehicle on bad tires is a competent winter vehicle. It would be nice if we could just go for a rip on my icy roads with my Mazda3 and its factory-studded Gislaveds and compare that to whatever you’re driving in the same conditions.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          “As I already said, FWD can give you the “illusion” of stability because it masks the slipperiness underneath, and then lets go all at once, without warning, — and with virtually no ability to correct.”

          There’s no illusion here. I drive to the limit of my tires year-round in all conditions at all times and have since I was a teenager, including slippery winter roads every single day for four months every year, and I have owned FWD, RWD, and 4WD vehicles.

          How do you figure that steering corrections work any differently with FWD than any other layout? If you can move your hands fast enough to stay ahead of the vehicle, it doesn’t even matter whether it’s engaged to a drivetrain or in neutral.

          The following line suggests to me that you have experienced the only stability problem that most FWD cars will ever experience: their owners putting worse tires on the back of the car than the front.

          “You can do an emergency manual-transmission downshift in a FWD car, but you will destabilize it, causing it to “trip” over itself and induce the back end to come visit you up front! (Don’t ask me how I know..)”

          That ill-advised tire setup resulted in a reversed perception of the effects of braking distribution. If you want more understeer on corner entry, dial the brakes forward. If you want more oversteer, dial them rearward. Likewise, a poorly executed mid-corner or corner entry downshift in a FWD vehicle is likely to cause understeer while the same would cause oversteer with a RWD.

          “In other words, if you non-speciously REALLY know how to drive, and care about your vehicle’s COMPREHENSIVE capabilities, then you wouldn’t be caught dead in a FWD car!”

          Unless you’re too poor for a second vehicle (like me), you wouldn’t be driving a RWD vehicle through a real winter either. Full-time, fully mechanical AWD/4WD (or rear-biased/vectoring electronic) is much more enjoyable. RWD can be fun for ripping around the city in winter but it’s like driving in slow motion, and I have no interest in relying on electronics and their spooky interventions when I’m cruising icy highways.

          Of course, the reverse is also true. I’d only continue driving the AWD in summer if I couldn’t afford a second RWD vehicle.

          But very few drivers care about the details of performance driving dynamics, so FWD is the most practical and efficient choice for the typical driver.

          Anyway, I think you’re getting carried away on the hyperbole. I could pick apart some things in Mr. Dailey’s comments but I think he was genuinely trying to have a discussion instead of a pissing contest. His original comment may have been overly general and not applicable to all RWD vehicle situations, but it was the typical experience of a Canadian in that time period: driving numb, front-heavy, open diff land yachts or 2WD pickups with bad tires, big torquey engines, and automatic transmissions. The average driver probably did see a major improvement in winter driving performance when switching to a new FWD, manual transmission, communicative, compact car on new tires. And since I’m talking Canada here, the manual transmission compact car was the norm.

          I don’t think anybody here is under the illusion that a FWD vehicle on bad tires is a competent winter vehicle. It would be nice if we could just go for a rip on my icy roads with my Mazda3 and its factory-studded Gislaveds and compare that to whatever you’re driving in the same conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      A Caving Ape

      Protip: If your FWD car can’t claw its way up a steep hill, turn around and reverse up. Works every time!

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        “works every time”

        Until you start fishtailing violently and end up in the ditch, LOL.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Apologies for the tone of my comment posted on December 13th, 2017 at 9:24 am. A little snarky on my part when other posters have tried to keep the discussion informative and respectful.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @NGOM: Nothing like grasping as straws. Genesis has converted to manufacturing/marketing vehicles with AWD in order to be competitive. The VW link is about one possible future niche vehicle with electric power. . And that is your ‘evidence’ regarding manufacturers converting to producing RWD vehicles.

        You mentioned Mercedes as a RWD manufacturer, completely ignoring the 4Motion common in their N.A. consumer vehicles or their FWD vehicles such as the A and B class.

        And then you revert to speaking about vehicles that are not even road cars.
        The discussion was in regards to real world driving. Particularly in the snow belt. Not your mythical trips around the ‘Ring.

        Based on your initial comment about the placement of rocket engines, your credibility was suspect. That and your use of disparaging language ‘what is left of their hair’, ‘secretaries car’. Too bad because some of your comments were actually interesting.

        Since others have demonstrated the prevailing fallacy in your ‘facts’ further responses are no longer warranted.

  • avatar
    frank908

    What a wonderful advert for tirer*ck.com wrapped in a nice story!

    It worked. I’m going to research winter tires now. :)

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    Growing up in cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, I learned a long time ago that snow tires (or just “snows”, i.e., “Don Paul’s calling for 12″-18″ overnight, so threw the snows on this weekend”) are difference makers.

    I ran FWD cars with snows, in Buffalo Southtown lake effect, for years. It can be done. (but it’s so much better in AWD/snows, or my current choice, an FX4/snows). Ground clearance helps immensely when you measure accumulation in feet, not inches.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Got the winter rubber on because the regs are summer tires only.

    The one car I span round was a Chevette on an on-ramp back in the 80s. Complete 360. Thankfully nothing got hit.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I had studded snows on my Chevette with four on thr floor. When it snowed a through a 100 lbs chunk of steel in thr back. When the snow was flying on Saturday night out, guess who was driving and popping drifts?

  • avatar
    mason

    I just run tires with the mountain snowflake rating year around. Good enough for the 110 inches or so a year we get, and they coincidentally perform fairly well off road.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @mason – Same here. I had run General Grabber AT2’s for 50k miles. They weren’t the best on glare ice and rode stiff and tend to wander in pavement ruts but were excellent in snow and gravel. They were decent in mud. The Duratrac’s I currently have ride much better and don’t wander in pavement grooves. They are a bit louder at certain speeds but are much better on icy surfaces and are amazing off-road. We haven’t had a big hit of snow fall but I’m betting they will be stellar in deep snow. I doubt I’ll get more than 40k miles out of them since the are a soft compound.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        I had a set of Duratracs and really liked them aside from the mileage I got out of them. I’m thinking my next set will be the Toyo CT. Toyo calls them their “commercial” all terrain. It also carries the mountain snowflake rating.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @mason – how many miles did you get out of your Duratrac’s?

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            Lou, I got rid of them at around 30k miles give or take.

            Keep in mind this on a SRW 3500 that tows frequently and sees dirt roads and poor secondary roads on a daily basis. They did have 1/8″- 3/16 tread remaining but were rock hard at that point and after the first snow storm decided they just weren’t for me anymore. I sold them to a co worker who mounted them on a farm truck. They are still in use.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I have all season on the AWD and 4WD respectively. The snow just does not last here in CO to warrant a set of winter tires. Based on this past weekend, it was snowing in Houston and 60 degrees here in Denver, I believe I no longer have to worry about snow tires.

  • avatar
    gaudette

    Rotated front to back? That’s looking for trouble. The better tires always go on the rear no matter what wheel drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Correct according to my tire guy.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        Only if your more comfortable with your vehicle plowing straight ahead rather than the rear getting a little squirrelly. (Yes I understand the logic, but that’s more or less the long and short of it)

        • 0 avatar
          wiseweasel

          I agree mason. The “tire guys” (I just had this argument with them this year) sell tires. On FWD vehicles people with little experience will complain due to traction. So they sell tires more often if you always put more worn tires on the drive wheels.

          Fact is, on a FWD car, the front wheels are responsible for 100% of the acceleration, 90% of the steering, and in most cases about 60-75% of the braking. So on a FWD car, it makes sense to put the “better” tires up front. I would rather be able to start, stop, and steer than keep the back end in check(because that’s the fun part isnt it?)

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Which do you prefer, oversteer or understeer?

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The tire places have liability in mind, and for most drivers, understeer is an easier situation to recover from than oversteer. Even when braking in a straight line, having a rear end with the worn tires can cause a car to spin out (assuming no stability control system).

            I remember driving to school with my older brother on snowy days, our parents’ old Honda Civic had barely passable all seasons on it, with the “good ones” up front to help climb the hill coming home. Coming down the hill was quite scary, I remember my brother dropping the right side of the car onto the snowy gravel shoulder as a way to get a bit more traction for braking.

            We both grew up to be big fans of dedicated snow/winter tires.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          The recommendation for putting better tires on the back is because statistically most people will get into trouble with a loose back end i.e. over-steer.
          I find the stability control nannies tend to make correcting over-steer a huge PITA since it tends to make abrupt corrections.

          (Edit – gtem beat me to it)

    • 0 avatar
      True_Blue

      “The better tires always go on the rear no matter what wheel drive.”

      Correct. Even on FWD.
      I ran the “good tires” up front for years, too.

      When FWD breaks traction on all four wheels in a spin, you’re not catching it, like in RWD or AWD.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “When FWD breaks traction on all four wheels in a spin, you’re not catching it, like in RWD or AWD.”

        How so? Counter steer and apply throttle to try to “pull” the car out of the slide.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @gtem – ” Counter steer and apply throttle to try to “pull” the car out of the slide.”
          Electronic nannies tend to kill that option. I’ve gotten into a bit of trouble a few times off-road when the nannies decide to chop power or brake when I’m trying to power through a bit of a slide in deep snow or greasy conditions. I usually disable them in advance but if one drives faster than the system’s pre-set threshold, they turn back on.
          I’ve talked to a few fellows who have been put into the snow bank because of it on narrow logging roads. They move over into the soft snow to allow room to meet and apply power and countersteer to keep from getting sucked in deeper and the nannies panic.

        • 0 avatar
          True_Blue

          “Counter steer and apply throttle to try to “pull” the car out of the slide.”

          “Try” is the operative word. I’m not talking about a slide. I’ve oppo’d with gas for many years, and when those front wheels come free you’re outside of their friction circle and along for the ride. At You can coach it if you have the space, sure, but good luck on most roads.

    • 0 avatar
      wiseweasel

      @Arthur, for me I prefer oversteer, there are many far worse situations where if the front doesn’t grip, you’re in a tree/intersection/embankment/off a cliff on the side of the road in the winter. I’ve been there and even having the “good tires” in back doesn’t prevent the tail end from passing you. Driving down a heavily covered snowy road with nearly new (all season) tires the back tires slipped into a rut and the vehicle started rotating. Counter steer, punch the gas, recover (if you’re lucky).

      To be sure, I hate understeer so much I only buy RWD or Rear-biased AWD/4WD anymore. In the snow I’d take RWD+Snow Tires over ANY FWD car.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        wiseweasel – – –

        Amen.

        I buy ONLY RWD vehicles (have 5) and manual transmissions for the same reasons.

        =====================

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @wiseweasel – I too prefer oversteer. Years of motorcycle riding on and off road also make it much preferable to understeer.

        But as mentioned earlier in the tread, most drivers can’t handle oversteer.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          I wonder if our preferences are determined by our experience?

          Having learned to drive in RWD vehicles, and tested them (and myself) under extreme conditions, I do feel comfortable recovering them from ’emergency’ conditions.

          Yet I have seen many ‘younger’ drivers get into some serious trouble when operating RWD vehicles (particularly pick-ups) after learning in FWD ones.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Arthur Dailey – there is probably some truth to that. My one son turns 16 in a week and I’ve already had him correcting for oversteer and understeer on an icy field. He sees it as grand fun but I’ve pointed out that it may save his life some day.
            My ex’s best friend thought that all I was doing was condoning drifting/hooning. I didn’t have the heart to point out that her oldest son has wrecked 2 vehicles and once ended up in the hospital after one wreck. Her daughter is scarily absent minded behind the wheel and her other son is cautious but still crappy.

          • 0 avatar
            gaudette

            On our FWD rig I only rotate side to side. After four winters the rear tires are still like new, the front ones will likely be replaced before winter’s end. If I rotated all around I’d have four tires in just fair condition.

            I don’t believe it’s an argument of oversteer and understeer either. It’s an argument of how do I have the best traction in an emergency braking situation.

            We always drive to the conditions and use dedicated winter tires. If one is battling oversteer then it’s time for new tires.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @ Lou, agree with how you are instructing your son.

            We learned to handle a car in poor conditions first by finding a large shopping centre parking lot. Usually on a snowy or icy Sunday when they were closed. Would make sure that there were no embankments/cement bollards and then would let our RWD vehicle on bias ply tires rip. Fishtails, donuts, etc. Learned how to handle the vehicle under ’emergency’ conditions.

            Back then the Police might notice you, drive over to talk. but would allow this sort of thing.

    • 0 avatar
      King of Eldorado

      The “good tires go on the back” policy makes some sense in that typical drivers can better handle understeer than oversteer, but here’s the problem esp. for FWD cars: At, say, 10,000 miles you decide to rotate the tires front-to-back. Naturally the front tires, which do most of the work and have most of the weight on them, are more worn than the rears; i.e., you already have the best tires on the back.

      This suggests that rather than rotating the tires, you should simply wait for the front tires to wear out completely, buy a new pair and put them on the back, and move the existing ~half-worn rear tires to the front. Most people, though, prefer to buy tires in sets of 4 when all the existing tires are near the end of their life.

      • 0 avatar
        gaudette

        Exactly my plan.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Generally even with a 10k rotation, the increased wear on the fronts swapping to rears is still well within the margin of them being fairly even in terms of wear (as far as worrying about uneven levels of performance front to rear), unless you’re constantly doing FWD burnouts or have alignment issues. I really don’t get the “2 tires at a time” folks unless they are just hard up for cash.

        • 0 avatar
          True_Blue

          ” I really don’t get the “2 tires at a time” folks unless they are just hard up for cash.”

          90%+ the rationale from my experience.
          The last 10% makes up “I have nowhere to store them” or a general lackadaisical attitude. “Who cares/my tires are fine.”

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I used to drive back and forth to school on weekends along the freeway, bringing friends for gas money and dropping them off along the way. During snow storms, one of our road trip games was “accident bingo.” In this game, the driver or passengers, whoever is first to spot a vehicle that has departed the paved surface, gets a letter and yells out that letter. The first person to get five yells “BINGO!” and wins the game. On one such trip, we got a few games in.

    Somehow I survived on all seasons and a shoestring budget. Over time we saw lots of cars, SUVs, 4WD, AWD, pickup trucks, 18 wheelers, new cars, old cars, all sorts of vehicles in the ditch. The driver is more important than the vehicle and tires when it comes to staying on the road.

    All that said, I’d run a set of snow tires if I was still in that kind of climate. You’re just giving away traction by not doing that.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @JimC2 – When I was finishing my perceptorship in a community 500 miles away from where I lived, I had come home for Christmas and ran across 5 MVC’s ranging from mild to severe. It took me 12 hours to do an 8 hour run. At that time I was running standard mud & snow tires on my Ranger. It was a tense trip and I would have preferred to not have to put my paramedic training to use. The local EMT’s and police did appreciate the help.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Steph re: Grand Am – nobody told you that you could pull one fuse and magically you’re back to regular human modulated brakes?

    • 0 avatar
      wiseweasel

      Another trick I learned is to pull the E-brake while the ABS is kicking in. The system detects this and thinks the ABS is faulty and disables ABS. It reset at startup every time.

      I used to have so much fun delivering pizzas in high school with this method! ;)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    My cars both have all season tires and FWD, so in practical terms, I’m in good shape unless we get over a foot of snow…in which case I’m staying home.

  • avatar
    Syke

    When I lived in Johnstown and Erie, PA, and spent a lot of time driving in Pittsburgh, snow tires were religion. Period. You’d be amazed what a Monza 2+2 can do busting thru hood high snow on the back roads heading up to the ski trails. All you need is momentum and control.

    Since moving to the Richmond/Ashland, VA area I don’t bother. If the weather has gotten bad enough that I can’t use a one of the motorcycles or the scooter for work I’d rather stay home. Not out of fear of precipitation. Out of fear of all the native-born Richmonders who going into immediate “I’m going to die” panic mode at the first sign of a snowflake. And follow up said panic by immediately losing control, wrecking their car, and at least four others. Preferably at a major intersection, thus blocking it completely.

    I’ll stay home.

    • 0 avatar
      True_Blue

      “Out of fear of all the native-born Richmonders who going into immediate “I’m going to die” panic mode at the first sign of a snowflake. And follow up said panic by immediately losing control, wrecking their car, and at least four others. Preferably at a major intersection, thus blocking it completely.

      “I’ll stay home.”

      Heh, amen to this.

  • avatar
    NoID

    My fleet is 50/50 right now. I got new winter rubber on my wife’s van about a month ago because she needed new tires anyways, so far I’m happy with them. Last year if I neglected to plow my driveway, the big van did very poorly on the packed snow/ice and was routinely struggling to escape my property. These tires have helped with that issue tremendously so far. On the other hand the i-Pikes for my Mazda are still in my garage, and I was sorely missing them over the weekend. Unfortunately there’s no break in my schedule to get them swapped until my holiday break in two weeks, hopefully Old Man Winter is kind to me until then.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I’m a big advocate for winter tires. This year I will be chancing it with all-seasons on my Silverado. I will be moving to the Pacific Northwest in the next couple of months for a promotion, and it’s not worth the cost.

    • 0 avatar
      Trichobezoar

      Congrats!

      I think up here you’re only legally required to carry chains when you go through the mountain passes. Otherwise you’ll do fine with any tires that do well in the rain. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Trichobezoar is correct in WA and OR mountain passes you must carry chains in the vehicle, no matter what the vehicle is during the same times it is legal to run studded tires.

      Just because there isn’t a level that requires chains and AWD/4WD that exempt you from carrying chains. The levels are.

      Traction tires advised.

      Traction tires required, 4WD/AWD exempt.

      Chains required 4WD/AWD exempt.

      Closed to no emergency traffic.

      However while many people think of rain in Seattle or Portland fact is there are a lot of areas that do regularly get snow on the WEsT side of the Cascades and it is the norm on the east side.

      Those of us that live in or at the base of the foothills of the Cascades see snow when it is no where else in the W. WA “low lands” Or those wet roads will freeze overnight when cold air spills out of the mountains.

      So living where I live in the greater Seattle area I do have snow tires for most of our vehicles and I’m currently debating what to do for the car I just got my wife.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        In British Columbia, only commercial vehicles are required to carry chains. There are certain routes that require winter rated tires for passenger vehicles. If you live in a city and do not stray onto those routes, there is no law requiring winter tires.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Thank you everybody. The truck is 4WD so if for some reason I’m crossing a pass, I should be legal. My company vehicle should also be AWD and I’m not buying winter tires for it either way. (It will get switched out to frequently for it to financially feasible) I’ll hopefully be able to find a house somewhere south of Seattle in a low area. They all get snagged up to quickly right now. I pretty much have to live somewhere in between Seattle and Portland. We’ll see.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I just switched to Blizzaks on my Giulia AWD last week. It stops and turns great on the icy stuff we’ve been getting here in Michigan already. I drove to work one morning in snow on the original 18″ sport tires and immediately called the local tire shop who had them in stock. I’m a big fan and repeat user of that online place with racks of tires, but these guys matched their price and even stored my summer tires for me in their warehouse… but I digress.

    Yesterday I was driving a friend’s Nissan Rogue AWD on the original all-seasons with 18k miles on it. Perhaps the Rogue is the problem, but it was a mess… I slid past a driveway going 5 mph with the ABS engaged on a mildly slushy center lane. The car wanted to get sideways around every corner. I’m a believer in winter tires, but I live in Northern Michigan where we won’t see totally dry tarmac until April, so I’ll get my use out of them more than a lot of other people.

    In my calculation, the tires were just a bit more expensive than my deductible for one fender bender without counting the possibility of something much worse.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      The local tire places here are as good in pricing as that online place by the time you pay shipping and someone to mount them for you. Plus, free lifetime rotation and balance on the tires.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    No messing around this winter. Both vehicles have snow tires on them. Blizzaks on the F150, and Michelin X-Ice on the car. The car’s tires are on winter #4, so they’re a little sketchy. Still better than the bald all seasons that were on it.

    If the weather gets bad, as it tends to in Atlantic Canada, I just take the truck to work. With Blizzaks and 4×4, it’s like a damn snowmobile.

    Last winter, the truck had all terrains on it. It was OK in deep snow, but not the best when it got icy.

    All of my tires are on their own set of rims, so I just swap them in the garage when it’s convenient.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Swapped over to dedicated snow tires on the 4Runner (part time 4wd system with rear locker), but decided to not pony up for snow tires for the newly acquired ’03 Pilot EX (AWD). The Pilot has Michelin LTX MS2 tires with good tread on them, they are decent for an all season in snow just owing to their ample siping, although I’ve read that the rubber compound is less than ideal in the cold. We’ll see what kind of winter we’ll have, the last two were quite mild in terms of snowfall. Another factor I like to bring up is how the vehicle handles and how stable it is on the road to begin with, that plays a big factor in winter handling as well IMO. The 4Runner really catches the wind and gets blown around a lot on the highway, even with snow tires slick highway driving can be a white-knuckle experience. Conversely the Pilot is an inherently much more stable vehicle at higher speeds.

  • avatar
    Landau Calrissian

    Tacoma, WA, where we don’t get enough snow to justify spending the money. I have A/Ts on my 4runner, but its also easy enough for me to stay off the road when its snowing anyway.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I’m running Nokian WRs on the RVR and the Accent. Its perfect cause we do get snow, and it tends to pack on the roads, but: it was 12 degrees C at 7AM this morning in the middle of December! So far Calgary, All Weathers are the killer app.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Dave, Is it still common practice for Calgary to not plow residential streets and instead either let the snow get packed down or just wait for a Chinook?

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Exactly Arthur, side streets are a free for all.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @davefromcalgary –
          That sucks but it does reduce one’s tax bill. My town had a referendum on snow removal and everyone voted for higher taxes to pay for better snow removal.
          City hall did increase the minimum amount of snow fall that triggers snow removal. It hasn’t been an issue yet. We had a dump of snow and the next day it was +10 C and raining.

  • avatar
    Quadradeuce

    I’ve been driving 20 years in Wisconsin and have never used snow tires. My current car is the first one I’ve had with AWD/4WD, and yet I’ve never been in an accident, run off the road, or any other snow related mayhem on my all season tires. I’ve gotten stuck once in the snow, but everyone agreed that we should have closed the office due to the weather that day since it was a blizzard outside.

    I also don’t know anyone who uses snow tires. You just learn how to drive in the snow. It helps that snow is cleared from the roads immediately and the roads are usually clean and dry after about 2 days. But when I made sales calls in the U.P. on the old logging roads, I never had any issues blasting around at 60mph in my shitty Pontiac Montana. You need to know how your car handles the snow, and drive accordingly.

  • avatar
    DJM

    3 vehicles shod with winter tires. Currently 2 are on Blizzak WS80’s and one on X-Ice 3. Would never go back to 3-seasons, the extra safety margins have already paid off. For me in Canada Costco had the best prices.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @DJM – I have found that Canadian Tire does have sales that puts them on par or slightly cheaper than Costco. The guy at the local CanTire told me that they have a “beat anyone’s price by 10%” policy but they don’t advertise it all that aggressively.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Lou: that I did not know. Generally I get my tires at CT. Put it on my CT card for the ‘rewards’ and then pay them off in 12 equal installments with zero interest.

        When you are paying for maintenance/tires/insurance for 4 vehicles, any savings and/or zero interest payments are most welcome.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    All wheel drive helps with the giddyup-and-go, but winter rubber is what you need to maintain control and stop in a reasonable, safe distance. Don’t let the AWD logo convince you otherwise.

    Ran Blizzaks back in the day and switched to Michelin Alpins this year. Out-freaking-standing tire. If you need more ice+deeper snow traction, the Michelin Ice-X are the way to go. Blizzaks are still good, but I’ve found the Michelins to be much better in dry conditions and much quieter overall.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Weird winter – not a storm yet this year (usually either a bit before or a bit after Thanksgiving we’d get hit with something that would at a minimum cause a two hour delay.)

    My Hercules Tera Trac AT2 have been good to me through ice/snow. As a principal I don’t get a 2 hour delay or a cancellation, fortunately my wife is teaching and gets the same delays/days off as the students. Her Terrain is FWD and wearing the factory Michelins.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Weird winter”. I had read that my part of the world was supposed to get a “traditional” winter. So far, that has not happened. My traditional winters do not include pouring rain and t-shirt weather LOL.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    I always switch to snow tires around Thanksgiving. I’m not sure if it’s true but I believe that, in addition to added grip in the snow, the winter tires have a rubber compound that provides better grip in colder weather…even when there’s no snow on the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      roverv8i

      Agreed. Modern winter tires ( not snow tires as most are calling them ) give better grip at lower temps than all-season rubber. This is more than enough reason to make the seasonal switch, even in Kentucky. I switched just this weekend as we were getting the first notable snow, as in maybe a 1/4 inch. When a lot of the snow you get is of this type it is often harder to drive than in more as this just makes the road slick and many are untreated so it eventually freezes over.

      I think a lot of older people thing of snow tires of yore that were more like all-terrain tires. I remember as a kid in Tennessee my dad put snows on the back of the pickup and a lot of weight in it to get to work. If people took the time to experience the advantages of winter tires I believe more would make the switch. They don’t because of the initial expense. My wife can already attest too this. Her A6 (AWD) has Eagle LS tires. They get poor snow ratings on tirerack. She was sliding around last Saturday and she knows that would not have been the case if she was in her previous car (FWD) with winters.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Learned to drive in rear engined VW’s on bias ply tires. The Old Man believed in replacing tires regularly but never bought ‘snow’ tires’ So neither did we.

    Drove RWD vehicles for decades on bias ply and later radials. Had original Firestone 500’s blow on me on the highway in 2 separate incidents.

    White knuckled one year driving a ‘disco’ semi-customized fullsize van. Lots of slipping and sliding.

    One of the best vehicles that I have ever driven in the snow was a Montana SV6. Nice heavy front end and decent clearance made it stable. Drove it on 2nd hand all-seasons while commuting 200+ kms during 2 of the worst winters in recent history along one of the most dangerous stretches of Highway 401. Used to count the vehicles overturned or in the ditch each trip. Pick-ups were the most prevalent.

    Did not switch our vehicles to ‘winter’ tires until the kids started driving. The do provide better grip and stopping distance. Find the Blizzaks noisy and very fuel inefficient. The Michelin X-Ice are good on slush and ice but not so good in deep snow.

    Since I no longer need to pay to rotate the all-seasons and since the tires last twice as long and our insurance company provides a sizeable discount for using winter tires, there is little additional cost involved, after the initial outlay.

  • avatar
    highway79

    DFW area here – recently purchased a Q50 sport which came with summer run-flats. I have used all seasons ever since I moved to the area in ’07, since we only get a few days of true winter weather (ice and/or snow) once every few years and temps don’t get below 40 all that often. Taking my chances and keeping the summers on for now…

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Snow tires have a softer sticker compound so bald ones make for a free autocross tire or high performance (don’t do real high speeds) dry weather tire.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I do concede that winter tires are just better in the cold or snow. However, one thing not mentioned here is the effect of aspect ratio on FWD with all seasons. I first discovered this in the late 90s when the small FWD sedans starting coming through with 15 inch 60 series tires as options vs the normal 14 inch 70 series.
    One of my co workers at the time complained that their late model Saturn sedan was terrible in the snow while their older Dodge Shadow was much better. This seemed odd to me given the similar weight of the two FWD cars. I asked her what tires were on both cars. Turned out that the Saturn had the lower aspect ration all seasons while the Dodge had the skinnier tires. At the time, I was driving a 93 Plymouth Colt with 70 series 13 inch tires to work. I never had an issue unless the snow got too deep as the ground clearance was low. On the other hand my wife’s Oddy with 65 series 16 inch all weather tires was not nearly as good in the snow or slush as the Colt.
    The smaller contact patch provided by the higher aspect ratio tires results in better traction in wet or snow all other things equal.
    I’ve noticed this effect across many brands of tires.
    The extreme example of this is the old VW Beetle. For those of you old enough to remember, they came with 15 inch tires not much wider than a bicycle tire. OK I’m exaggerating a little bit here. The VW bug was a great snow car especially when fit with old style “snow tires” due to the narrow tread coupled with the weight of the rear engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      What does the guy who drives the snow plow drive to work!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      But what does sidewall depth (aspect ration that you mention) necessarily have to do with it? I think what you’re correctly bringing up is tire width, generally expressed in millimeters. The aspect ration (“/XX”) is the height of the sidewall as a percentage of that tire width. You can have really wide tires with a tall sidewall (265/70R16) or admittedly more rarely, narrower tire with a lower aspect ratio (Nissan’s NV200 vans come to mind).

      But that’s just me being pedantic, I think your point is correct. For winter, my 4Runner goes from the aforementioned 265/70R16 to a narrower 245/75R16. But the 265->245 alone doesn’t capture it. Looking at the tread itself, the snow tire tread is narrower than what a “normal” 245 width all season or all terrain tire might be. Likewise, my 265/70R16s have a wider profile in terms of tread than the 265/70R16 highway all seasons that preceded them.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Editing time expired (when will this be fixed?)
        *ratio

        Thinking some more about it, I guess aspect ratio is an encompassing term to denote a tire’s general profile (correlation of width and height), so you’re right on the money. I’d still say in the case of trucks/SUVs you can have a very tall tire and also be detrimentally wide.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          A narrow tire does seem to work better as long as you can reach a hard surface underneath.

          A wide tire is preferable any time you need flotation i.e. deep bottomless snow/mud/sand.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I particularly appreciate my narrower snow tires on the 4Runner when changing lanes through built up slush. With the 265mm wide all seasons it felt like it was floating on top of the dense slush, the narrower snow tires feel like they cut through, much more confidence inspiring.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes it is about width not aspect ratio, however in most situations the OE tire size width increases as you move to a larger wheel diameter and lower aspect ratio. For example a car that had 225/60-16 will usually get a 235/55 or 255/50 17″.

    • 0 avatar

      My Eagle ran 155-80R13 that thing was unstoppable till the snow hit the bumper. Those little skinny suckers dug right down to the pavement. At the time I had a long commute on back roads (50 miles each way)and drove thru quite a bit of snow never an issue on cheap as I could find all seasons. Replaced that with a Golf with 195 something or others, Man was the gold awful in comparison in the snow.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    How soon can we look forward to the author having a similar epiphany about global warming?

  • avatar
    mikey

    I have my only vehicle, an EB Mustang, equipped with Michelin X ICE tires, mounted on the matching OEM alloy wheels… Here in the East End of the Greater Toronto Area, you can “get by” with good “All seasons “and FWD. Not on a RWD Mustang though.

    I tried running the OEM all seasons one winter. Last fall I sprung for the Michelins. I’ll see how the Michelins wear, and the next time maybe ill try the Blizzaks ?

  • avatar
    random1

    We ski a lot in the NE, so we always run snows for the winter. It’s a truism that in any bad snow/ice storm, the ditches at the side of the road will be littered by SUVs that slid off in their all season tires. My favorite was a picture last year of a large pick up that slid into a ditch at the Killington parking lot. That was a 5 or 10mph slide off the edge of the lot.
    You might be able to pull yourself out of trouble with four wheel drive, but you can have whatever drivetrain you want, it won’t help you stop(or even change direction) 3 tons on crappy rubber.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      At the end of the ski day, the hill’s loader comes to the parkinglot and pulls out all the 4wd vehicles that went for the ‘great’ parking spot that the 2wd vehicles avoided because they knew better.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I’m keeping the Michelin PSS all year. The car is a lease, and buying another set of tires for it wouldn’t pay off in the long run. I’ll drive something else on the really cold days, and as long as it stays above about 10 degrees the tires shouldn’t crack in the garage.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      Last February I bought a Focus RS with the Michelin PSS. I flew from Oregon down to Texas to find one below MSRP.

      As I was driving North the temperatures started to drop from a comfortable 70-ish down to the mid 30s and occasionally the high 20s. Fortunately the weather was dry, so I got through most of Colorado before discretion got the better of valor. Looking at the drive ahead, the Columbia River Gorge was seeing rain with freezing temps, in the annual ritual of Pacific NW ice/sh*t storms.

      I stopped in Fort Collins and dropped $1K or so on winter wheels and Blizzaks. Fortunately there was enough space in the car for the summer tires.

      Those PSS are great summer/track tires, but I have zero regrets about the investment in Blizzaks for winter. Made the rest of that trip, including ~250 miles of snow and ice on I-84 much less stressful.

      • 0 avatar
        Add Lightness

        Check out what the WRC cars use to put 350 HP down on ice and snow. No wide tires there.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “No wide tires there.”

          Those tires are usually studded which is a term I use loosely. in some cases, the studs are more like spikes.

          On my dirt bike I used to run carbide steel ice racing screws drilled through the nobbie’s on the tire and through a street tire inner liner. You could climb a near vertical ice wall.

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        @srh I bet that was a fun drive, at least while the weather held up. There’s nothing quite like getting to know a new car with a multi-state drive.

        I’m definitely not taking the M3 in the snow, you’d have far better odds in your RS with the PSS tires.

        This year’s winter vehicle investment is a new sailcloth softtop for my Wrangler YJ, my snow vehicle of choice/necessity. I’m also trying to pick some AT tires that will do well in occasional snow.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Ramrod, check out Cooper’s new “ATW” version of the well-liked Discoverer AT3. It’s a more winter-friendly (more siping in tread blocks) version of a more traditional all terrain. I don’t have personal experience with it but I quite like the concept.

  • avatar
    Fred

    This is my first winter in the foothills of Yosemite. To that end, with my FWD TSX wagon I’ve got some snowchains, shovel and nice scraper brush. Today I’m going to get Michelin Ice X mounted. Then I’ll wait for the first real snow and go for a test drive.

  • avatar
    raph

    Fun times ahead this week! I have to pick up an EB Mustang and drive it back down from the north western tip of PA to south east VA. I think it has all season tires on it but they just might be summer tires.

    I might be able to let it sit, at least I hope so. If not it ought to be an interesting drive and if the worst comes to pass I hope I provide a helluva YouTube experience.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    We ran into the first snowfall of the season in northeast Pennsylvania on Saturday. It was the date of our flying club’s holiday party and since I’m the President and my wife was supplying the dessert, we had to make the 50 mile drive to the airport. We took the MKZ which is AWD and has a set of Blizzaks on dedicated minus-one wheels.

    The car handled it brilliantly. There’s a long uphill stretch of two-lane that we comfortably motored up where we found a State Trooper in his Explorer stopped facing downhill. We just smoothly cruised right past him. On the interstate (I84), I found the car to be stable, communicating grip very well. Of course, I was driving at an appropriate speed well below the speed limit.

    Once on the airport grounds, I did have a full slide incident as the snow was covering glare ice. I recovered well and made it safe. The thought of hitting the Mooney parked on the ramp was enough to scare the crap out of me. The return trip was easier as the snow had been cleared from almost all of the roads.

    This is, easily, the best winter setup I’ve ever had. There is no question that the snows improve traction. Combined with AWD, uphill driving isn’t the horror movie it has been in the past.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Backs are Continental PureContacts around 10,000 on them, fronts are Michelin MXM4 almost bald, 50,000 miles on them. No traction surprises last weekend with a light foot. I’m waiting for the fronts to get scary before I buy more expensive Continentals.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    I put the Blizzaks back on my wife’s car before Thanksgiving this year because we had early snows and low temps and now that it’s mid-December it’s been 30* mornings and 60* days but I’m just leaving them on out of sheer laziness. Plus, when it inevitably does snow/we get a cold snap she’ll be ready

  • avatar

    No snows on either this year. Not really enough snow in CT to make it worthwhile for cost and hassle. Mastercraft LSR All seasons on the 300 and Micheln LTX on the Durnago.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Judging by the comments, this appears to have been a truly gripping question.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    What’s this “snow” all you people are talking about? I just replace tires when the wear bars start showing.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    My locale is definitely of the type that warrants snow tires – and mine got put on nearly a month ago when it threatened snow (but didn’t deliver). Get my summer tires too cold and it feels like you flat-spotted them after it sits overnight.

    I might’ve held off a little longer, but I also was employing a strategy to try to get one more season out of my summer tire set – max performance tires are fun, but they wear out fast! Much cheaper to wear out my 16″ skinny snow tires than my wide 18″ summer tires.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    I remember dad’s second Passat had an awful ABS like that, the winter prep was basically after the first bent bumper: winter tires + pull the ABS fuse.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      My family’s first car with ABS was our ’98 MPV Allsport 4wd. Here we were gloating about our fabulous and unstoppable new family truckster with a slick 4wd system with locking center differential. Well “unstoppable” played out in more than one way. As easy as climbing the hill by our house became, coming down and braking in time for the intersection was something else (stock all seasons). The ABS would just chatter away and the two-ton Mazda would just keep going and going… when we finallly convinced my dad to get a set of dedicated snow tires the transformation was incredible. Heck I didn’t bother putting it in 4wd most of the time unless things were really nasty.

      I’d like to think that modern ABS systems are (generally) better tuned for threshold braking.

  • avatar

    I would like to point out that I’ve never seen such a basic Tundra in real life.

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