By on October 23, 2018

2017 Genesis G80 winter mountains - Image: Genesis Motors

If you’re living at low altitudes in the Southeastern U.S. or a partial day’s drive from the Gulf Coast, this Question of the Day is not for you. Barring exceptionally wacko weather, denizens of these temperate climes needn’t worry about traction loss caused by the solidification of moisture below 32F. In other words, snow, slush, and ice of both the regular and insurance-hiking black variety.

For those of who who do live in regions where Mother Nature delivers an annual cold shoulder, we’re getting close to decision time. What’s your style: turn your beautiful, meticulously upkept  vehicle into a cheap-looking rig for the duration of winter with a set of bare steelies and meaty donuts, or keep style and handling alive with a snazzy set of low-profile winter tires wrapped around sporty aluminum hoops?

If you’ve already guessed what this cheapskate’s solution is, well, you’re bang on. Go collect that bet. Glamor needn’t enter into the equation when you’re freezing your ass off, I say. Parkas generally don’t expose the midriff.

In the years since this writer finally bit the bullet and invested in two sets of rubber, the prescription has always been the same — buy steel wheels an inch smaller than the summers, shod them with a mid-range-to-good compound and enjoy the extra bite and cushioning. It’s an economical recipe that doesn’t break the bank and leaves you with a convenient (if style-less) full-size spare to toss in your trunk during the non-snowy months.

I laughed after taking delivery of a pseudo-sporty press car once in the dead of winter. As snowbanks turned into mountains beneath a sky that couldn’t stop falling, this fun little compact’s 18-inch alloys and 45-series rubber soon revealed a pair of Achilles heels. While the set provided great traction and control, snow is but one worry during winter motoring.

After having a blast with this rally of one, accumulated snow in the wide-open wheel design created generous ice clumps after the car sat overnight. Can you say unbalanced? Further discomfort came when the snow melted away, leaving potholes in its wake. The low-profile rubber offered about as much cushioning as a windbreaker in a boxing ring, and it wasn’t long before an almighty clunk left me listening for signs of real damage from the conked corner.

Sorry, but unless money was of no concern, I’d prefer to avoid both drawbacks and just go ugly. 60- or 65-series rubber on modest steelies, supporting a body that looks like it was pelted with a dozen chocolate Wendy’s Frostys. Having said that, a shorter winter with a decreased number of storms would definitely cause me to reconsider this plan. So would a swap of model nationalities.

What’s your take on this, Northerners? Are you a card-carrying member of the keeping-up-appearances crowd, or does practicality and price rule the day?

[Image: Genesis Motors]

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112 Comments on “QOTD: Much Ado About Winter Aesthetics?...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Practicality rules the day. The nice car resides in the garage and the station car becomes the driver. With performance all-seasons.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      Truck for Winter. Car for Summer ( and during Chinooks, as long as I get time to replace the newly-gushing water pump soon ). I frequently have to get through 1′ snowdrifts on the way to work so Winter tires on the car just won’t cut it.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    I will run whatever is the most cost effective option for the vehicle I am driving. For my cars I have traditionally used steel wheels. However when my wife’s newer CUV needed snows I found a set of unwanted factory take offs, with factory TPMS sensors.

    As for snow buildup, I have always had trouble with that on the back of my VWs, even with the small 15″ wheels. I think that has to do with driving style as much as anything. Sliding the car around leads to buildup.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Best deal going is take-offs or someone else used setup for our Great Lakes region. The Blizzaks and Michelin Alpins are stack in the garage and ready. We already had one inch of snow but the roads are still to warm for it to stick or even freeze.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I had a set of factory rims one size smaller (16 vs 17) I used snows for with my jetta TDI wagon, I bought them from a TDI forum member so they were a decent price, I would not go the steelies route, to ugly for me. Now with my saab I have not used snows or different rims, if it so bad out I will stay home, I am doing much less driving this year, when I go back to being a road warrior I would go the extra rims a size smaller and get snows. I never have summer tires and hope my michelin all seasons will work on the saab

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I’m with the author. 1″ smaller steelies. Who cares about the look. Everyone’s car is that same shade of salty grey that time of year anyway.

    The slightly higher sidewalls help cushion the ride when the suspension is frozen, creaky, and full of snow at -30C as well.

    There is a chance of snow tomorrow, plus it was -6C this morning. Time to switch. I’m putting the 17″ Blizzaks on my truck this week, down from 18″ summer rims.

    I still need to get new snows for the car, but it’s the same scenario. Down one rim size with steelies.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Smallest and cheapest wheels that will clear the brakes.

    For my SS I was able to buy a wheel/tire setup that someone else had used for 1 winter, so those ended up looking nicer than expected. Otherwise it would have been steel. Still 1″ smaller than stock though.

    • 0 avatar
      mittencuh

      Same. 15″ Volvo alloys on my Focus from the first gen S60 ($100 from a local indy Volvo shop).

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I managed a Craigslist score; got a set of 1″ smaller alloys riding winter rubber with TPMS sensors already set up. They clear the brakes (barely) but they get it done. Given that my Camaro isn’t exactly a great winter car given the clearance, it at least makes slick spots less slick and turns it from useless/helpless in the winter to only mildly scary. Starting in 3rd gear is a common affair.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Turns out I’m about a 10 hour drive from Galveston, so this question is not for me. I would like to say though that it amazes me how many people around here mention “winter driving” as a consideration for their vehicle choices, when in reality we only have 6-7 days a year any more where that actually happens. I drove on slick roads exactly once last year, and suffice to say my BMW on Michelin all seasons was not happy at all.

    I do know one person that puts studded snow tires on their car every year (a ford Focus), but they live waaaaay out in the boonies on a crappy dirty road. Still, the ride in town for 3-4 months must completely suck.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I don’t do anything special 4WD and a good set of all-seasons (OK, come at me) seems to work fine for me here in the heart of the snowbelt, but I am a fanatic about rust, so every day I’m out I stop at a carwash a couple of blocks from my house to make sure my car stays salt and rust free

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Here goes. :-)
      Quit wasting your time and money at the car wash and instead spend it on some winter tires.

      As long as the temperature remains below freezing and your car is not in a heated garage, the rust monster will sleep. Rust starts when the temperature rises. Spend the $125 and each spring get your car Krowned.

      As for the tires, you don’t need winter tires, until you need them.

      I started driving in the early 1970’s. Beetles, PLC’s, rear wheel drive domestic V8’s, even a disco van. Started with old fashioned bias ply and then moved to all season ‘radial’s. Never put on winter tires until my first child started to drive. Now would not drive a vehicle in the winter without them. The difference is noticeable and scientifically verifiable.

      Add in the cost of tire rotation, replacement of old or worn tires, and the insurance discount for using winter tires and the cost of buying a set of winter tires and steelies is almost a ‘wash’. As your regular tires will last at least 40% longer.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Arthur D…The B&B must think we work for Krown. That being said ..Krown is by far the most effective rust inhibitor on the market… Take it from a couple of Canucks …$125 year, or watch your vehicle rust away.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I wish we had Krown in the US

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            We do! But mostly near the border with Canada. You can also buy Krown’s DIY spray cans, I have no experience with whether they are better or worse than anyone else’s oil-based products (Fluid Film, WD40 came out with something recently too). I’ve had good luck with Fluid Film myself after brief experimentations with used motor oil+kerosene (smelly, drips a lot). Fluid Film can be heated to spray through a paint gun, but then dries to a gelled up state.

            The main takeaway though with undercoating is that at all costs avoid the rubberized variants, they simply trap moisture underneath and accelerate serious structural rust more than anything else. I know a lot of guys like POR15 too, it’s like a really hard polymer that they claim you can apply right to surface rust, I find that to be dubious as well.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          My brother’s and his friends’ experience with Krown is that its efficacy is strongly dependent on the person doing the application. There is technically a guide for each vehicle the Krown puts out as to where to spray, but whether the operator does or not is anyone’s guess. Both him and his friend switched back to applying Fluid Film themselves after a year of Krown, your mileage may vary. My brother was rather dissappointed with his XL-7’s treatment, they missed a huge area behind the rear bumper. I’m a huge proponent of oil-based rust proofing, and do a yearly touch-up of Fluid Film on my 4Runner, especially using the special 360 degree wand to spray the insides of the frame rails.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I just googled Krown and see that you can buy their products in the US now, but no authorized places to have it done :(

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            No there are definitely plenty of Krown franchises in the US, here just use this:

            https://www.krown.com/en/locations/

            Upstate NY is full of them, and as of this year I see there is even a single location in Indiana.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Indiana is closest to me, about 300 miles, * sigh *

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Lie2Me there’s really nothing THAT special about Krown, aside from them drilling into the sills and such. I’d argue you can just about equal them with just DIY-ing it with their own product shipped to your home. I’d advise putting the car on jack stands and taking the wheels off, and wrapping the brake rotors/calipers in a plastic bag, then go nuts. It’s a bit messy, but if you really want to hang onto the car for a long time, it’s a worthwhile thing to do.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            gtem, it will be a cold day in November or hell when I try to rust-proof my car myself. I can’t think of a worse job to attempt, I’ll live without

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Arthur, I appreciate your input, but not everyone has a place to store an extra set of tires not to mention the hassle of changing them out twice a year. I do what works for me, I drive the car best suited for my needs. It’s taken me a lifetime of driving to learn how important these simple things are. I’m good, thanks

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          My mother is down to driving about 10,000 kms per year. And never during storms, etc. So we just put a set of ‘all weathers’ on her car. They are ‘winter rated’, and qualify for the insurance discount.

          So possibly a better option than ‘all seasons’.

          The point regarding the importance of the Krown technician is true. Since I have been using the same ‘franchise’ for many years and am responsible for 4 vehicles, I have to say that he provides excellent service. And even if they do ‘miss a spot’ one year, multiple year’s worth of applications will ensure that all areas are covered.

          It does drip initially and you can transfer some of the application onto your hands/clothes but it washes off. One of its key characteristics is that it ‘creeps’ into crevices, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          pragmatic

          A skier I know uses two of the mounted tires under a glass top as a coffee table and the other two are in the corner of her Bronx apartment.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Of note: Very few major metropolitan areas in the lower 48 have temperatures consistently below freezing. E.g., Boston has no months where the average daily high isn’t above freezing, and Chicago has only one. Even if you’re street parking your car in the northern US, it’s likely to see many, many winter days above freezing.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I agree on the all-seasons, since I simply don’t see enough snow and ice to make it worthwhile. On the other hand, I’m opposed to the daily/weekly wash as I understand that can make matters worse, not better. Garaging it every day is not necessarily good either, if you keep your garage warm enough to melt the snow and ice (homes with attached garages are especially bad at this.) Better to let it stay frozen until a thaw or until spring, depending on your location.

    • 0 avatar
      Brumus

      Half-assed no-season tires are a compromise, and a poor one at that in the snowbelt.

      And 4WD does nothing to help you stop on snow- or ice-covered roads.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “And 4WD does nothing to help you stop on snow- or ice-covered roads.”

        — False. If you know what you’re doing, then 4WD DOES help you to stop… as you have speed control on all four wheels. Of course, manual transmission is a big help too, as you can better control your speed compared to an automatic.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          From the Toronto Star, the owner of this site:

          “If you drive a vehicle with AWD or 4WD you should have winter tires on all four wheels. It’s the stopping and steering that will save your life and AWD does not enhance these aspects of active safety…. AWD does not help shorten braking distances. It actually can make braking distances longer due to the added mass of the AWD system.”

          https://www.wheels.ca/news/does-all-wheel-drive-actually-help-in-winter-driving/

          Or from Consumer Reports. “Four-Wheel Drive. Drawbacks: Can’t improve braking or cornering performance in snow; driving in locked 4WD mode on clear roads can damage the driveline; and there’s a wider turning circle in 4WD mode.”
          https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/09/do-you-really-need-awd-in-the-snow/index.htm

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Arthur Daily: Sounds like your reference doesn’t know how to drive a 4×4 (very few seem to fully appreciate its abilities.) Or didn’t you know you can slow down and stop without ever applying your brakes? Believe me–you do NOT want to apply your brakes on ice! I don’t care how good your anti-lock system is; if it thinks you’re at a full stop as you slide down the road, it won’t pulse them. Newer systems are better but they’re not perfect. Many times it is better to gear down and decelerate smoothly rather than applying brakes.

            And yes, true snow tires WILL improve on that ability.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Vulpine, I believe that the author quoted is a more accomplished driver than either of us. Ian Law, a professional racer, including ice racing, who operates a skid control school. Also worked for Skip Barber.

            http://www.carcontrolschool.com/ilr-instructors/ian-law/

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ever think that might be part of your problem? You’re so used to doing something one way that you can’t even consider doing something differently?

            Oh, I’m sure your experience is good but my experience is with all kinds of driving EXCEPT racing… I don’t go for all-out speed, I go for driving smoothly, which is one reason I’m able to take vehicles supposedly incapable of certain types of driving and get them to work. I’ve driven through multiple snowstorms in a 2WD Chevy Camaro and not once did I slide off the road; while 4×4 Jeeps and pickup trucks were all in the ditch… even in up-and-down hilly country on 2-lane highways and 4+ lane freeways. How you drive is more important that WHAT you drive.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @ Vulpine: did you even read the posted information before responding? You appear to be stating that you know more about driving than Ian Law, a licensed racer, racing school instructor, skid school instructor, and professional ice racer?

            Next will you be posting that you have more experience with women than Jack Baruth?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            By the way, I do agree with much of what @Vulpine has posted. Just not the original point regarding the stopping advantages of 4wd.

            Unfortunately, I have found editing my comments on the site today to be a very frustrating experience.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I am saying I have different knowledge. I don’t consider myself an ‘average’ driver simply because my experience and skills are different from Average. Ian’s rules are intended for the average driver, who doesn’t understand how to make their car work for them–they only care about it getting them from Point A to Point B and back with the least amount of effort.

            I’ve driven FWD, RWD and 4X4 on snow and ice from northern Georgia to mountainous Colorado to frigid Bødo Norway and currently live and drive between northeastern Maryland to central Pennsylvania on a regular basis–summer and winter. If you ask me, those borderline areas are far more treacherous than the deep-freeze of Colorado and north during the winter. Part of it is because the drivers simply don’t know how to handle the conditions and part of it is the fact that it is very possible–nay, probable–that you’ll find liquid water on top of “black ice” which is FAR more slippery than glare ice.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            First off there is a big difference between 4wd and AWD and among vehicles billed as AWD even more significant differences.

            Fact is 4wd does help with the steering if the driver knows how to use it. Some AWD systems also help, again if the driver knows how to use it.

            On the other hand some of the slip then grip AWD systems actually hurt the turning. You’ll get slip, the vehicle will connect the other wheels, all the wheels will then spin at the same speed and thus disengage, sometimes abruptly. If that happens while you are trying to turn it may cause the vehicle from neutral cornering to under or oversteer depending on the default drive axle.

            So yeah most people will lump 4wd and AWD together and say it will not help with steering as it will vary significantly depending on the vehicle and driver.

            Back in the days before ABS 4wd also helped with stopping considerably. With modern ABS that advantage is pretty much gone.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Scoutdude: “Back in the days before ABS 4wd also helped with stopping considerably. With modern ABS that advantage is pretty much gone.”

            — While probably true, I’ve personally not experienced that of which I am aware. ABS works fine on dry and even wet roads, but on ice?… Last time I was in that situation, the ABS locked me up and thought I was at a dead stop, sliding at around 10mph. I had to manually pulse the brakes with the lightest-possible pedal pressure. It was the only way I could make a downhill sweeping curve under any kind of control–with a red light at the bottom and traffic crossing.

        • 0 avatar
          Brumus

          Vulpine:

          For safe winter driving it’s more about the four contact patches (i.e., tires) in winter driving than it is what you drive or your driving skill.

          If one must stop quickly on a slick snow-covered road on no-season tires, no skill or drivetrain will overrule the laws of physics…or the fact winter tires significantly shorten stopping distances.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Brumus: Please read what I said above. I clearly stated that snow tires help the 4×4. But some parts of the country really don’t need snow tires because they simply don’t get enough snow to warrant it. If you live where it snows and sticks for 4-5 months out of the year, I fully agree with you. But if the snow falls and only lasts for 4 or 5 DAYS after the fall, they’re a waste of money.

        • 0 avatar

          @ Vulpine: I would agree to your point about the amount of days one actually drives on snow/ice covered surfaces should determine whether or not winter tires make sense. I’ve yet to use winter tires even though we can have plenty of snow where I live. I’m only on snow covered surfaces a small percentage of the time which, for me at the moment, does not motivate me to spend the money on winter tires.

          Also, experience plays a large part on anyone’s ability to deal with winter driving. I also think one’s “knowledge” of the vehicle they drive makes an impact. I keep cars for a long time – currently 20 years on my DD. I know what it can and cannot do in most situations and drive accordingly. Another factor is having all senses alert – vision, hearing, feeling. I get a lot of cues about what kind of surface I’m on through hearing as an example. I can then adjust my driving to match what I have observed, so to speak. The one variable I cannot adjust for is “the other guy”. Humans, being what they are, can be unpredictable. I have no idea what their experience level is which calls for my being even more alert when around other traffic.

          That said, I think I would benefit from winter tires, but I’m doing well now (and it all comes down to money for where I’m at in that regard).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @THX1136: You know the old saw about, “Drive Defensively”? When it comes to snow and ice, I can guarantee you I give the other guy all the space I can… Not what they think they need but what they WILL need as I watch them drive on the stuff as though the roads were dry and clear. I see so many ID10Ts on the roads around here it’s silly… and only a tiny percentage of them are New Jersey drivers (in fact, the average Jersey driver seems to have more sense when it comes to driving on snow-covered roads.)

            Yes, I use 4×4 or equivalent primarily for the winter season and when it comes to stopping at traffic lights, I certainly want to be in the front of the line, not the back. Why? Well, just watch someone used to driving on dry roads try to jack-rabbit away from the light. Pickup trucks almost always swing their tails while FWDs just tend to sit and spin their wheels. It’s absolutely laughable, if it weren’t so dangerous!

            In my little 2WD Ranger I used to have, I loaded about 200 pounds of construction sand (bagged) right at the tailgate and had very little trouble getting around… while I watched full-sized 4x4s twitching their tails out of line trying to accelerate away from the light or stop sign. It’s downright scary around here because it seems every driver forgets what they learned in the last snowfall and makes all the same mistakes. I can understand this of Georgia and Tennessee drivers, but these folks up here get at least one measurable snowfall per year. You’d think they’d eventually learn!

            Oh, I fully understand the benefits of snow tires but so many people live in apartments or condos where all parking is public and they simply have no place to store winter tires (or their summer tires during the winter.) If they put winter tires on their car, at current prices, especially, they’d be worn down to practically nothing by the time winter is over (and we do get a last blast as late as April on occasion.) If we got more snow, I’m perfectly willing to get them myself but in all honest we don’t get enough to balance the cost. I just make sure I have good tread and (if possible) a self-clearing tread pattern to take advantage of what traction I can get.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I’m in the midst of preparing for winter-commute battle, I’m well equipped this year with an old A4 Quattro with heated seats that I’m in the midst of tracking down a winter-tire setup for. I’m shooting for -1 sized steelies just for their low cost at the pick-and-pull and durability over potholes, but for a 5×112 bolt pattern it looks like more likely that not it will be “15 alloys from a Passat. Tires will be some leftover/discounted Hankook Winter I*cept W606s from PepBoys in the stock 195/65R15 size for base B5 Passats. Previously I ran Camry steelies on my ’96 ES300. I ended up with really meaty Firestone Winterforce snow tires in an oversized 205/70R15 that gave the car a mad-max/rally-car esque stance. Super cushy ride, and the ES had enough sound insulation to smother most of the road noise from the aggressive tread with wide-spaced blocks.

    The 4Runner will be getting its usual winter setup, Tacoma alloys (same “16 diameter as stock) but with narrower/taller 245/75R16 General Altimax Arctic tires.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I had snow-shod steelies on my GTI, but found I missed the sharper bite of my summer tires so much that I was reluctant to switch on the winters in the fall and too eager to take them off in the spring. Aesthetics and driving fun are pretty much the whole reason I bought an Alfa Romeo in the first place, so it didn’t make sense for me to neuter it for five months of the year. Just got a set of Michelin Pilot Alpins on light-weight Sparcos, now sitting in my garage weighting for the cold weather to set in. I told myself that I’m going to own the car for seven or eight years at least, so over the life of the car it’s not that much extra to swallow.

  • avatar
    Joshua Johnson

    The Jag receives same size as stock winters- 18″ Yokohama W.Drives, and sits for a majority of the snowy months. Saves the summers from flat spotting

    The Infiniti receives a -3 downsizing from stock 21″ and 45mm profile tires to 18″ and 60mm profile tires. Luckily found some older OEM G35 wheels that cleared the Akebono brakes. Makes the QX70 into a rally car, especially with all that V8 power to get it going!

  • avatar
    mikey

    I managed with more than luck, than skill, to get through winter 15-16 with my EB Mustang on “3 season” tires. Fall of 16 I bought a set of Michelin X Ice tires. Not wanting my car to look like a tractor, I spent the money on the OEM ,correct matching wheels. Early November I will get the fourth coating of Krown rust inhibitor, and switch over to the Weather Tech floor mats. I stock up on Loonies and Toonies ( Canuck speak for ones, and twos) and carefully spray wash it once or twice a week. I like to keep my vehicles looking good. Southern Ontario winters can present some challenges in that area !

    The 05 GT will winter in the garage with its custom made cover. (actually I had the cover made for the 08 base model we used to have )

  • avatar
    Maymar

    My Mazda2 came new with steelies, so I bought a set of aluminum wheels to mount the all seasons on, and have my winter tires mounted on the other set. Although it’s gray and dreary enough (and the car is a rather dreary gray as well) that I spray-bombed the factory hubcaps lime green (at least for six months, my wife has no problem finding our car).

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Here is what I do…

    Drive your vehicle with your old tires until the week after Thanksgiving. Then buy some new dedicated snow tires on your stock rims. Blizzaks are the tire of choice for me. The stock rims are usually pretty corrosion resistant and you can easily get a replacement if you damage it during any unplanned off-road excursion. Add some anti-seize to the hubs and rims with just a smidge on the studs. You are now ready to take on old man winter and wave as you pass by people with their all season tires.

    Over the winter get a nice aftermarket rim and tire combo from Tire Rack for dedicated summer driving. Jazz up the look of your vehicle while improving the handling at the same time. Install your new summer rims and tires the week that baseball season starts.

    Now you are all set to change winter to summer tires back and forth each year. I usually wash the rims good and balance the summer tires each time they are installed. I wash and balance the snow tires every other year due to the lower mileage accumulation.

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      I am sold on dedicated snow tires…

      About 5 years ago I bought a nice low mileage 2001 RWD Blazer with a traction-lock style rear end. The Blazer came with all season off road style tires. The tread pattern looked very aggressive, so it would seem they would be good in the snow.

      The first snow arrived laying down about 2 inches. I backed out into the street and put it in drive. The Blazer would barely move ahead while spinning both rear tires. As I approached the corner I lightly applied the brakes and the ABS came on. As I took the corner I could easily make it spin out with any touch of the throttle. It was totally unsafe for my wife to operate in the snow. That same day I ordered a set of Blizzacks to have them installed in a few days. I was worried I would need to buy a 4WD vehicle if the snow tires were not effective.

      About two weeks later we got hit with an 8 inch deep snow storm. I backed out the Blazer and just motored on. Most of the neighbors had trouble with their 4WD trucks and SUV’s getting stuck while I had no problems. Later they would tell me, “Your old 4WD Blazer sure works well in the snow”. They were in shock when I inform them it was not a 4WD vehicle.

  • avatar
    Boff

    We recently leased an M3, so steelies are out of the question. For past leased cars we have just swapped the tires out twice a year on the OEM rims; Costco makes this easy with good tire prices and they only charge $40 for the swap! I decided against that this time around because Costco didn’t have the tires I wanted, and frankly I wanted to go down to 18″ from the 19″ that came with the car. There are a lot of knockoffs out there that could have worked. But I managed to pick up an essentially new set of the 18″ package sold by BMW dealers — for half price! Feeling pretty good about that purchase. Will also get a season’s pass at the nearest touchless car wash, and pick up a set of BMW floor mats which are the only reasonably-priced accessory the dealer offers. I’m confident we can navigate our way through winter in this car, based on my experience with my prior Mustang GT.

    • 0 avatar
      Wunsch

      See if your dealer lists both “floor mats” and “floor liners” for the M3. They do for the regular 3-series, and the ones they call liners are actually made by WeatherTech, but branded as BMW parts. They provide much better coverage and protection for the carpet.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I have this story. One time I was too lazy or unwilling, or for whatever reason… I was in limbo. My Highlander had tires good for dry weather but I wouldn’t let wife drive it in winter. I went on ebay and conveniently, a junk yard 40 miles away was selling 4 highlander rims with tires. I picked it up for $550. tires were in great shape. I drove on them and in summers on old tires for 3+ years. Then I sold them for $460. Basically, for under $100 I’ve got 3 years of tire service.

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    Practicality and price all the way. I just switched from a TDI Golf to a 1989 944 turbo in need of some fixing, and the smallest size that will fit on my turbo twist aluminium rims is 17″.

    I am Captain Poor Decision this month and also totally fine with that – this is a $10k write off fun experiment and the parts will recoup some of the value maybe eventually one day.

    Side note: I always thought all-seasons were fine until my province forced everyone to run winter tires. Now I’m the guy who will bore you with details of how winter tires should be mandatory everywhere. Especially on old Porsches I am driving.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I chose option C- leave the misery of the snowbelt behind. Gets too cold down here to run summer tires all the time, but I don’t need them on my FWD midsizer anyway.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The car has BFG Comp 2 TA that work very well even in the cold. That said, when the weather is bad I just take the truck which has Blizzaks on a set of OEM alloys I picked up for $50 at a swap meet. Even though it is 2WD it is a beast in the snow with those tires.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    When I traded my oldest Ford in on a newer car (now 25 years ago) the dealership where I traded flat-out told me they’d be shipping it up north to be a winter beater. I can tell you it probably did not survive more than two winters. Me? I’m just far enough south that out-and-out snow tires are the exception rather than the rule but far enough north that a somewhat blocky tread style is definitely helpful. Snow tires would be worn down to the wear bars after only one winter even if we had two or three blizzards (nor’easters) come through. Only once in now 22 years of living here have we had snow stay on the roads longer than 3 days after plowing. And that was the one time we had two storms a mere week apart.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I have a 2017 Elantra Sport and knew when I bought it that the 225/40/18s were going to be no bueno in a Twin Cities winter.

    I lucked out and found brand new aluminum 17 inch Hyundai Tucson rims for $250 for the whole set. There were a bunch for sale on eBay from Tucsons totaled in Hurricane Harvey.

    I have Nokian Hakkas mounted on the Tucson rims and my Elantra hauls ass in the winter.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    I live in Buffalo and have used snow tires for years. My most recent cars have been 2 Honda Elements, a BMW X3 and currently a new Golf Alltrack. Even though they all have AWD and came with “all season tires”….emphasis on the quotation marks, I find snow tires are extremely cost effective….They are safer, mounted on different wheels they save my nice alloy wheels from the ravages of snow and they allow your summer tires to last a lot longer as they are off the car 6 months out of the year. I like Quebec which has mandatory snow tires….wish they had that in Western NY State

  • avatar
    Wunsch

    I go with (relatively) low-cost replica alloy wheels in the winter. They don’t detract from the car’s appearance, but they don’t cost more than I’m willing to pay.

  • avatar
    don1967

    “Winter performance” is an oxymoron when applied to big, wide, low-profile rubber. I generally go with the narrowest tread and highest profile possible.

    Steelies would still be my default choice if they didn’t rust so quickly. My last couple of vehicles have been shod with alloys.

  • avatar
    mleitman

    I say get the best winter tires you can afford. Just ordered a set of Hakkapelitta R3s. As for rims, you can get aluminium ones for not much more than steelies, like these: http://rwcwheels.com/roues-hiver

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      Do let us know how the Nokian R3s work out. This is a new tire that’s an upgrade of the R2 that (along with the Michelin X13) was already widely regarded as the best out there, so I’m curious.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I will do nothing. Dec 25 last year got caught in bad snowstorm between Boston and Hartford. And I drove passed all CUVs which lagged @25mph while I was doing 45 in FWD Mazda6

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Just say no to steelies, in many cases a set of factory take offs can be had for less than the aftermarket steelies that don’t fit exactly right and will rust quickly. Most factory aluminum wheels are much more corrosion resistant than any aftermarket wheel.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Low profile open rims are just virtue signalling anyway. Around where I live people actually prefer the black steel rims for winter use because it sends another virtue signal that they are smart drivers who invested in a winter set of wheels.

    I buy a set of used oem rims for my winter tires. They are lighter, look better, are more precisely machined, have no fitment problems, can be exact replacements should I damage a rim, avoid the environmental impact of manufacturing a set of steel rims, and delay the environmental impact of melting down the set of used alloy rims.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Ace of Base Bonus: My summer wheels are steelies with hubcaps, the same hubcaps cover my winter wheels. So my xB is its same stylish self year-round.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      Likewise my Golf with 15-inchers, love the smooth ride and am fine with tires that don’t resemble rubber bands. I would have gone with separate winter tires if I was buying new again, but not quite worth the investment at this point for the maybe 10 snowy/icy days we get yearly around here. My next set of tires (if i wear out my current set) may be those new snow-rated all weather tires like the Nokian WR G4 or Michelin CrossClimate+ which are like “all-season” tires that actually work reasonably well in all seasons. Not the thing for deep snow but good for areas like mid-Atlantic that get the four seasons in the extreme, but with ice and slush the biggest winter menace.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    The problem with going the steel/skinny route where I live is that there is a 5+ month period where snow/sleet is possible but maybe a 3 month period where it’s likely. So with AWD and an MT at this point I just leave the good all-seasons on all year and don’t do a swap. My previous car was FWD (Civic SI) so I got a set of new takeoff OEM alloy wheels from a dealer for a couple of hundred bucks and swapped those out with performance all-seasons for the 5+ months.

    BTW, this was prompted by the time I got caught in a surprise October snow/sleet storm and got within about 15 feet of my driveway in my ’99 Saab Viggen with summer tires and then slid backwards about 100 yards down a hill. No harm done, except as it was happening that seemed like a very long 100 yards….

  • avatar
    blather233

    I learned the hard way that there is “too small” on the rim size. I purchased a used 2009 Kia Rondo, seller included in the purchase 205/65-15 winters on steel rims (down from the 17″ factory rims) that worked fine UNTIL I installed some new front brake pads. The new pads pushed the caliper out and it started to contact the rims. I had to shop around and try to find some steel rims with a different interior profile that had more clearance which I fortunately was able to find.

    Lesson learned is even if TireRack says your car can go down two rim sizes (as it does for my Rondo) only go down one rim size to maintain enough clearance from the caliper.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @blather233: Otherwise how do you like your 2009 Rondo? We also have a 2009, 4 cylinder, 5 passenger and it is one of our all time favourite family vehicles. So much so, that it has earned a name. So far 3 family members have taken their drivers test in it.

      • 0 avatar
        blather233

        @Arthur Dailey: I actually really like it, it’s a EX V6 Luxury edition with the third row. At time of purchase (4.5 years ago) we lived in downtown Toronto where they are actually a popular car and I’d see many other examples driving around. I purchased it privately from a guy in the middle of a divorce and he was just wanting to get rid of it and pay his ex-wife off. It had at the time 108,000kms on it and he was asking $9600. I figured I’d open the negotiations at $7300 intending to end up somewhere in the low $8’s. Imagine my surprise when he responded “OK” and didn’t even bargain with me, probably the easiest car purchase of my life.

        The only issue we’ve really had is an extremely rusty oil pan (blame the Toronto salt) and I’m debating if I should replace that now or just wait till it starts to leak.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Here is a rather timely piece of advice from today’s National Post regarding rusting oil pans:
          https://driving.ca/auto-news/news/your-corner-wrench-dont-forget-about-your-cars-oil-pan

          There may have been a manufacturer’s recall regarding that. Since ours is regularly Krowned there was no action taken/problem.

          Glad to hear that you are also pleased with yours and had such a positive purchasing experience. That generation of Rondo is quite a popular taxi in a number of smaller Ontario cities.

          Their ‘content’ level for 2009 was quite surprising and included some features that were found only as optional extras on much more expensive vehicles that era.

  • avatar
    ColoradoFX4

    Practicality rules the day. My Fusion’s standard tire is 235/45-18, but I run 215/60-16 winter tires on a set of second-hand steelies I picked up for $150. The smaller size are cheaper ($150-$200 less for a set of comparable tires), and running a dedicated second set of wheels means I save on installation ($60 each time, so $120/year). Plus, the narrower tire provides better traction in the snow. Rounding out the pluses, the steel wheels don’t get damaged by kicked up sand.

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    My awd mkz on all seasons is all i need. I’m perfectly capable of adjusting my driving style for the season and road conditions. In my 19 years of driving, I’ve done fine and never gotten into any sketchy situations i didn’t directly ask for. I’m not perfect, but i do make it a point to drive so that if i get into a crash in the winter, it’s due to somebody else and winter tires aren’t going to change that.

    I get that winter tires will make my car handle better. But the absolute best way to winter-proof your car is to adjust your driving habits and style. That’s my option and it’s served me well.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Having all wheel drive may actually increase your need for winter tires.

      Your vehicle has a higher centre of gravity. It have more weight (due to the AWD system). Due to the AWD drive you are probably driving faster than vehicles with RWD or FWD only.

      The winter tires are most useful in helping you stop. Something that your AWD system helps work against.

      Why spend the extra money for AWD, unless you are going offroad, which the majority of AWD SUVs/CUV’s don’t do, unless you properly equip them? FWD with winter tires have been proven time and again to be superior in the winter to AWD with all-seasons.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “Your vehicle has a higher centre of gravity.”

        It’s an AWD MKZ…

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          And the positioning of the diff, driveshaft, and PTU will actually probably result in a car with a lower CoG than the FWD version of the car. It definitely won’t raise it though.

      • 0 avatar
        SlowMyke

        No, i understand how not to drive stupidly. Just because i have awd, i do not drive faster than cars with 2wd. Thanks for the assumptions, but they’re wrong.

        I know how to adjust my speed, following distance, acceleration, braking, etc. As i said, I’ve driven for 19 years in Michigan without any crashes due to winter weather conditions. This includes fwd, rwd, and awd vehicles. I’ll take competent driving over a bozo with blizzaks any day.

        And I’m not saying winter tires are useless. I’m sure they’re great. They just aren’t necessary. At least not in most of the US.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          It baffles me why people in the snow belt will pay extra for AWD on these types of vehicles (CUV’s/SUV’s that never go off road), and then not spend the money to install winter tires. I wish that someone would explain the logic behind this.

          Would have to check the COG for an MKZ. However in general, vehicles with higher ground clearance by definition have a higher centre of gravity.

          Regardless AWD/4WD adds weight.

          Both impact negatively on the physics of stopping and turning.

          Anecdotally, based on a number of family members and friends who are police officers, a neighbour who is an insurance adjuster, and my decades of driving, the vehicles most likely to be found ‘in the ditch’ after a winter storm are pick-ups, AWD SUV’s/CUV’s and tractor-trailers. Conversely the number of Camrys, Sonatas, Corollas, Accord and Buick sedans and even old RWD sedans ‘in the ditch’ is much lower than their comparative numbers on the road.

          • 0 avatar
            SlowMyke

            Anecdotally, I’m not those idiots and i know how to drive. Please stop assuming you know how i drive. You’ve clearly pegged anyone not driving what your ideal setup is as bad drivers, but i assure you there are plenty of us who can manage a winter without separate equipment.

            I also don’t understand why people buy big trucks and Jeeps to commute in. Or mustangs, M3’s, and Corvettes to commute in. But people do because it’s what they want, like, it whatever. By your logic, everyone should be running around in Corollas and nothing else…

            My car handles absolutely fine and I’m a very competent driver. My record shows it. Why are you offended that some people don’t need or want winter tires?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Probably every one of those ‘idiots’ thinks that they are a good driver.

            And all evidence demonstrates that by not using winter tires, you are more likely to be involved in an accident. Therefore you are making the roads less safe for my family and yours. That is reason enough to be upset.

            Finally you did not answer the question, why pay for AWD if you do not go off road or tow?

          • 0 avatar
            SlowMyke

            I got awd because i like the way the car drives and handles. I understand it’s usually acting like a fwd car. I probably wouldn’t buy it in awd trim again, but i like it as it is now.

            And i guess I’ll just go on being a nuisance on the roads and continue getting into all the crashes every winter that I’ve never been in. When there is a crash, it is because someone messed up or did something they should not have. As I’ve said in all of my posts thus far, i adjust how i drive per the road/weather conditions. Quite frankly, I’d put my method of driving up against your average driver with snow tires any day. I bet I’ll have the better record and better road manners. You see, those assumptions you make about my driving go both ways. You can assume that because i have awd and all seasons, I’m over confident and drive accordingly. I’ll assume that since you use and put much faith into your winter tires, you trust that’ll make up for not making adjustments to your driving. As I’ve also said, i think how you drive is far more important than what you drive.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Arthur, I appreciate what you’re trying to say. But you are letting your emotions override your logic. I’ve made it quite clear that I have active experience in winter driving AND have never, not once, been involve in a crash OR gotten stuck in a ditch while driving on snow and ice… in now over 40 years of driving.

            Oh, I’m aware that accidents do happen and I also know that even the slightest mistake can result in a ditching or worse. I do know from personal experience that 4×4–handled properly–and AWD do offer advantages in the snow, naturally better with snow tires on board but well enough without in areas where snow tires are grossly expensive overkill. At upwards of $800 per set plus wheels and installation and a lifetime expectation of one or two seasons, they’re not worth the expense. Again, my driving conditions are NOT like yours or your favorite expert’s.

            Adding weight is a good thing, as it means the tires have a chance to get a better grip… though I agree it can also be a negative under certain circumstances. After all, ice skates float on a long, thin, bead of water on top of the ice. Those ice skates work to hold that water between the edges of the blades, in that hollow that generates hydroplaning. Good car tires at least attempt to move any liquid water out from under the tire. That’s also why winter driving advice always recommended adding weight over the drive wheels in the case of RWD vehicles. It works. Properly balanced weight is needed for an AWD or 4×4. Since the typical engine weighs about 150-200pounds, then adding that much to the tail of an AWD or RWD only makes sense. If you can learn the exact weight on each axle with the driver aboard, then you can fine-tune the ballast weight for an exact balance. Again, personal experience suggests shifting the balance rearward on all but FWD cars and make that FWD as balanced as possible; after all, a light tail almost guarantees fishtailing if there is any crosswind.

            The only reason those 4x4s and AWDs find the ‘ditch’ is their drivers tend to believe they’re immune to sliding because they can accelerate so well; but those are also the drivers who don’t–or won’t– understand the physics of driving on snow and ice. A truly GOOD driver understands and drives accordingly.

            Oh, and you don’t need 4×4 or AWD to tow. And AWD can get you out of a problem by simply putting down torque where you have traction. I would remind you of how the original Audi Quattro dominated European saloon racing against much more powerful cars before they were banned.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @SlowMyke: “As I’ve also said, i think how you drive is far more important than what you drive.”

            — I agree.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Vulpine, love the skate blade analogy. I could spend all day discussing radius of hollow, rocker angle and length, the difference in blade width from different blade manufacturers, sharpening techniques etc. One of my favourite topics, in fact I included it in a graduate paper/submission. Based on my decades of playing, coaching and working in a sporting goods store.

            Actuarial studies based on insurance reports and accident statistics, have demonstrated that accident rates, and claim costs have a direct correlation to the use of all season tires in winter conditions. That is why insurance companies offer a discount to customers who use them. And why some jurisdictions mandate their use.

            Studies also demonstrate that the vast majority of participants rate themselves as ‘above average’, when by definition the majority are ‘average’.

            Finally what is the added cost of AWD/FWD both to purchase, in increased fuel costs and increased maintenance costs? Yet we have posters who take that option then refuse to spend the money on winter tires. Is there any logic in that choice? I have asked that question multiple times and have yet to receive a full response, in regards to driving in winter conditions.

          • 0 avatar
            SlowMyke

            @vulpine – your response is excellent. Thank you for taking more time and effort to explain your thinking, which seems to line up with mine.

            @arthur – searching for winter tires at my local tire establishment, the cheapest winter tires are $135 per. So without taxes, mounting, and possibly a set of wheels, that’s $540 for a set. Let’s say they last 2 seasons, that’s $270/year on winter tires, ignoring the additional costs mentioned already. With awd, there will be some repairs/maintenance that exceed that amount in one go, but overall, i don’t spend anywhere near $270/year maintaining awd and on additional gas. So that equation also helps tip the scale against winter tires for me.

            I think in order for me to consider winter tires, I’d have to live either in Michigan’s UP or somewhere in Canada where the winters are much heavier. But in most of the US, adjusting your driving, decent all seasons, and a decent car can get you through the winter just fine.

            And in regards to the statistics you’ve been quoting, I’m sure they’re accurate. But just because they say a person is more likely to have an incident without winter tires, it doesn’t actually apply to every single member of each population (with or without the tires). The statistics generalize and project. So there are just more people who have incidents without winter tires. But likely, those individuals would also be more likely to have an incident during the summer in the rain. Having an incident in the first place means an error was made in driving. While no one is perfect, one certainly can make a good effort to not make drastic errors that are likely to lead to some sort of incident. I know this sounds like I’m saying i don’t make errors, but I’m just saying i pay attention to what I’m doing while driving. This means I’m able to anticipate how i need to be driving, which drastically reduces the amount of errors I’m likely to make, as well as the magnitude of the errors. Driving in most daily scenarios is not a difficult or complicated task. Even bad drivers make it home unscathed most days. So just focusing on driving and thinking about what you need to be doing/where you need to be going really can make you one of the better drivers on the road.

            I’m not trying to project that you’re not in the good driver category, i did get frustrated with your projecting bad habits onto me, though. I’m sure you’re a capable driver, as am i. I’m sure you’d be just fine driving my car for the winter, but i guess you just like the extra assurance that the winter tires provide.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Good discussion from both of you and Arthur, I’m glad you appreciated my analogy. As Myke said, however, the stats say one thing but experience can override the stats. In fact, the system I –least– like to drive in the snow is FWD… I was trained and have most of my experience in RWD and tend to react in an RWD manner in a slide. Because of that, I spun an FWD crossover due to a wind gust by letting off the gas rather than powering through. No collision; no ditch, but I did have to turn it back around. AWD/4×4 gives you a little more control and still lets you power out, as long as you’re gentle on the throttle.

            Those stats you mention are very probably accurate, as even you mentioned that the supposedly ‘good’ drivers more often than not came across as average. And I have no problem with certain jurisdictions mandating winter-tire use–especially if the snow falls frequently or stays on the ground for extended periods. As for those drivers… just as an example, when I owned my Jeep Wrangler (JKU) I had other Jeep owners blowing their horns at me, demanding I speed up when I could clearly tell the road surface was more treacherous than they believed. More than once they’d get into a slide when they finally tried passing me, while I just kept on going. They may think they’re great off-roaders/snow drivers but it’s the ones who don’t slide that show up those hot-rodders.

            And as for your specific question: yes, I paid a little more. My wife’s car is a Jeep Renegade with the AWD option… FWD normally with either an automatic kick in the tail if the fronts slip or manually set snow, mud or sand settings for known conditions. On wet roads I’ll poke the rear-wheel lock to help reduce risk of hydroplaning when one side of the car hits a water puddle. Wheels and tires for that would cost in excess of $800 and I really don’t have a convenient place to store a winter set without literally rolling them through the house and down into the basement.

            Worse, I just purchased a 4×4 pickup (Chevy Colorado) and as yet I have no idea how the truck will handle slippery roads. The first chance I get, I plan to get some spin practice in a school or shopping center parking lot. I do plan to add about 200-300 pounds of sand back by the tailgate, though (may have to add more, but not until I test it.) Not only is it weight, but if I carry a small shovel along, I can use it to help un-stick myself if it ever becomes necessary. Wheels and tires for the truck would push $1000-$1200. The tires alone run near or above $200 each.

            Oh, and while some recommend cat litter, be careful of what type you get. Old fashioned clay can help with traction but as it gets wet, it, too, gets slippery. It’s also a lot lighter than sand so it’s not as helpful for balancing axle load.

            An extra note: The tire types I usually buy use standardized symbols to mark their operating conditions. My favorite tires include the snowflake symbol as well as rain and mud, so while they may not be dedicated winter tires, they are better than most for winter driving.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            If your tires have a snowflake then they are rated as winter tires and qualify for the insurance discount. Most likely they are ‘all weather’.

            Although they have a ‘more aggressive’ tread, the key to winter tires is that they remain ‘soft’ in cold weather, whereas summer or all season tires loose this flexibility at temperatures below +7 celsius.

            The National Post published an article today (Debunking Winter Tire Myths) regarding winter tires. The link that I am posting may ‘disappear’ but it is easily googled. I am including a brief quote from it.

            Remember, they’re the single most important safety feature on your vehicle, because they’re the only thing in contact with the road. Everything else, from seatbelts to airbags to stability control, is there to help get you out of trouble when your tires lose their grip.

            https://driving.ca/chevrolet/auto-news/news/debunking-winter-tire-myths

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Arthur Dailey: Things aren’t quite as binary as you’re suggesting. While I don’t deny true snow tires are specifically designed for such cold temperatures, I do deny that all-season tires are the same as summer tires; they’re a compromise. Typical (but not all) all-season tires are rated for lower overall range than summer tires. They tend to have between 30K to 50K of mileage expected as they are of a softer compound than high-mileage tires.

            The point is that I am aware of a true winter tire’s advantages. One review flat stated that on a high-performance Audi, a set of winter tires handled packed snow as though on dry pavement. This is great, if you drive on packed snow a lot. Where I live, packed snow simply doesn’t last that long. With anywhere from one to six snowfalls in a given season measuring 1″ or more, the ONLY time we see packed snow for more than a few hours is if the snowfall happens to be 16″ or more… of which only one season in 22 years of living in my region saw three such storms and was the only season where two such storms occurred about a week apart, meaning packed snow lasted about two weeks.

            This is my ONLY point! People are not going to buy tires that wear out so quickly on dry roads just to be ‘dry road safe’ for the two weeks or less that such tires are actually needed. Buffalo, New York? Certainly! Lake effect snow has them covered for almost the entire season. Mountain areas like the Appalachian ranges where ski resorts maintain a healthy business? Yes. But not where the winter is more likely to give you rain instead of snow. For the few instances the winter tires are going to be useful, the cost and high wear on them for the rest of the season isn’t worth it.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @ Vulpine, I hope that this comment appears below your latest one.

            I believe that we have reached a friendly compromise. Yes to winter tires in the snow belt and now to snow tires below it (the Mason-Dixon Line?).

            And perhaps all weathers in the fringe area?

            Now I have to decide what is best for driving from Ontario to Florida. Perhaps it depends on how long my relatives will be in Florida?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Friendly compromise”, Arthur. This is what I’ve been trying to say all along but I guess I just hadn’t worded it clearly enough before.

            As for your family: Are they snowbirds who try to get away before the first major snow and stay in Florida until the snow is almost gone? If so, all-weather tires may be good enough. If they only spend a couple months in Florida, then they’d probably be better off on winter tires full-time.

            And yes, I would definitely consider winter tires for my cars if I lived where it stayed cold longer and snow stayed on the roads longer. I spent three years in the Denver area and did well enough without–over 30 years ago–but if I lived there now, full time especially, then I’d maintain two sets of tires for each car to handle winter and summer needs.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Arthur Daily: I’d like to keep in touch with you. I’m a bit of an amateur weather fan and love to read about weather in other places. I’ve gotten pretty good at forecasting weather in some places, based on NWS published data, especially where I know the patterns in specific areas. (I used to forecast for my mother, in Tennessee, when I lived in Denver due to knowing how the mountains around her home would shift the overall patterns. I tended to be more accurate than the NWS forecasting for the overall region.)

            What I’m asking for here, just for fun, is to have an ongoing ledger of daily conditions, such as high and low temperatures, winds, precipitation, etc.

            You should be able to contact me through roadwhale dot com.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Vulpine, are you a ‘storm chaser’ or someone tracking climate change or just interested in weather?

            I follow it in the spring/summer/fall solely so that I can plan my weekly golf game.

            I used to follow it very carefully in the winter due to the weekly ski trips and almost daily trips required for rep hockey in Ontario. However those days are now past.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Not exactly a Storm Chaser, though I have chased a storm or two–especially when I lived in Colorado. No, I’m more of a weather hobbyist… always excited about severe weather and wanting to see it for myself. The clouds of an approaching storm are fascinating and the mammatus clouds on the back side of such a storm are intriguing… like stalactites hanging from a cave ceiling… absolutely amazing if the sun is coming in under the clouds to highlight them.

            Where I live now is in an area where the weather does not conform to the regional norm. This is due to two different bodies of water tied together by a shipping canal which, strangely, creates a kind of ‘hot spot’ that causes rain and snow events to split around us. Go ten miles north or south and a storm that dumps 10″ or more of snow may only drop 1″ here. Even rain events do similarly unless it’s a direct strike by a nor-easter or hurricane. We might get the wind, but only a fraction of the precipitation from most weather systems. Yet, we’ll get rain at times where nothing falls anywhere around us due to the same effect. It makes weather forecasting here quite… challenging.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            The Buffalo New York/Niagara Peninsula create a climatic anomaly.

            Due to the convergence of 2 of the Great Lakes and the existence of the Niagara Escarpment, they can get an enormous amount of ‘lake effect’ snow, and rapidly changing weather. Yet they are able to grow peaches in that area and have some of the best climate in the world for wineries.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Wine making is moving farther north, too. Grapes don’t like really hot summers.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Brake calipers don’t always let you go down a size, and unless you get wheels from the same model there’s hub and offset to consider along with the bolt pattern.

    And if you live anywhere mentioned at the start of the article, instead you have to worry if your car can float.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    I previously ran steelies (Merkur XR4Ti) but since I purchased a Lincoln LS 17 years ago I’ve run OEM wheels in a smaller size. The Lincoln was replaced by a XJ8 last year, so the Lincolns summer rims (17 inch) became the Jaguar’s winter rims. Four snow tires installed mid-December taken off in April. Every third winter the snow tires stay on until November when new one are purchased for the next winter.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    For my wife’s Mazda5 grand touring I found a nice set of Mazda3 takeoffs with TPMS sensors on ebay — looks stock but I went down to 16 inch wheels for the winter tires.

    For my Chevy SS I bought a used set of 17 inch Michelin X-ice wrapped around tire-rack special “sport edition” alloys which themselves were bolted to a 2003 subaru outback. Best $2000 winter tire option I could find for the SS.

  • avatar

    methinks the bears have it: hibernation is best.

  • avatar
    church

    My choice is neither, but somewhere in the middle.
    – i don’t like ugly looks or heavy weight of steelies .. so i just bought used alloy set for winter beater use. For example, for some 86/brz – used 16″ wrx alloys are plentiful and very cheap. This way looks don’t suffer too much and practicality/low costs still there.
    – for grip/practicality .. as on ice/snow some narrower tires grip better, as higher sidewall on smaller wheels provide more comfort & bad road compliance, and some narrower tire widths are not provided for bigger wheel sizes, and also tires for smaller wheels cost significantly less, – several reasons to get separate winter wheels set, that is one or two size (if brake calipers are cleared) smaller then blingy/expensive/wide/big/low profile summer set.

  • avatar
    markmeup

    I drive a ’16 Chrysler 300S AWD with travels throughout the Midwest Region.

    Not gonna lie, I love my car alot, so the ‘looks’ do matter to me, no matter what time of year it is.

    I try to keep as simple as possible. Because I have the 300’s awesome AWD system, after Thanksgiving, I just remove my custom 20″ aluminum wheels/summer rubber and swap them out for the original OEM 19″ wheels/AS-tires. Given the way roads are kept clear + AWD, this is all more about keeping all that salt from destroying the finish on my $$ rims throughout the winter months, than it is about extra traction, etc.

    Since owning an AWD model, I’ve rarely had an instance where I wished I had snows vs. the OEM all-seasons. When I had the RWD 300S and the BMW’s, I ran bit smaller good-looking OEM wheels with modern snows.

  • avatar
    boozysmurf

    I won’t drive anything in winter without winter tires (nee snow tires).

    About twelve years ago, I ended up following the clone of my own car (a 2003 Acura RSX) south-west on the 401, just that side of Kingston. The only difference between the cars, including speed and lane position? I had winter tires, he had the OEM eco/all-seasons.

    I spent an hour with him waiting for the tow truck after he walled it on a patch of ice that I drove casually through/over.

    It ain’t the go. If you can’t go, you’re effectively “safe”. Stuck, but safe. If you can’t turn or stop, you’re a hazard. So, always winter tires.

    My ’10 Genesis was a daily driver for years, in Ottawa, and I have OEM size tires (should have gone square) on OEM wheels for winter, but hi-performance winters. The ’05 Subaru Forester had aggressive winters (Goodyear Nordic WinterTrac) on it, and they were an amazing combination with the AWD. Unstoppable, and thoroughly controllable. The ’16 F150 that replaced the forester has 265/65R18’s on steelies, and again, aggressive winter tread. So aggressive that last winter, I only had to go to 4×4 once, all season.

    So, the wheel choice depends on the vehicle. But the tires? If it’s getting driven from November to May? Winter tires. I want all the stop and turn.


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