Piston Slap: Faith in the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap faith in the three peak mountain snowflake

Greg writes:

Good day Sajeev,

I recently signed a three-year lease on a Grand Cherokee Upland. The Upland is an appearance group that includes tow hooks, blacked-out trim and great big (20”) wheels wrapped in some fairly aggressive all-terrain tires (Goodyear Wrangler All Terrain Adventure). Boy, does FCA love “appearance groups.”

I live in the great white snow belt of Western New York where we get around 100 inches of snow per year. On my last two vehicles (Ram 1500 and Toyota 4Runner), I used winter tires for about 4 months of the year and was very happy with them.

I have the opportunity to purchase winter tires on steel wheels for this Jeep at a steep discount from a coworker. My question is, do I need them or should I rely on the A/T’s that are on the Jeep already? The stock tires are well-reviewed for winter use but I’ve heard horror story about low profile tires and big rims in the snow.

What’s your take?

Sajeev answers:

Western New York, eh? So how far away do you travel from cities/towns that sport readily available snow plows?

Greg replies:

Almost never, but I often have to leave for work before the roads are cleared. I’m a firefighter so in my line of work we don’t get snow days.

Another factor is that this is a lease and I feel like using winter tires for part of the year might keep me from having to replace the tires before I trade it in. But if these tires perform as well as reviewed in the snow, I wonder if it’s a waste to play the snow tire shuffle every spring and fall.

Sajeev concludes:

Because of your location, my gut feeling is to not buy the winter tires and give the All Terrains a shot. Because, if I Googled right, these Goodyears carry the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) symbol which suggests not terrible traction in packed snow. They aren’t winter tires, but does the 3PMSF certification cut the mustard?

I’m cheap/hate buying stuff sitting with no foreseeable future value, and since we don’t know how cheap that steep discount is, that money could be applied elsewhere. I’m stating the obvious (i.e. Firefighter training is superior to what we get in Driver’s Ed), but keep the usual stuck-in-snow removal tools (kitty litter, shovel, etc.) in the cargo area if 3PMSF can’t save your bacon.

But your bacon is extra valuable in your community! So perhaps:

  • If you’re getting those dedicated Jeep snow tires/wheels for cheap, you can easily re-sell them and lose (almost?) nothing.
  • Firefighters need/deserve every tool they need for success.
  • The spare winter tires are cheap insurance. Which is inherently valuable.

Yeah, just buy those winter tire/wheels…Best and Brightest?

[Image: Shutterstock user Klopping]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Aug 10, 2019

    I ran a Miata on summers year round in Watertown, NY. Every commute was like running flat out on a dirt track and handbrake turns were the norm. YMMV.

  • Big Smoke Big Smoke on Aug 12, 2019

    Greg the fire fighter. Question. Do you want a almost fireproof boots, pants, coat, helmet? Buy the lightly used snow tires from your buddy. It will get you to work on time. OK. one more question, greg. How many accidents do you get called out for with bad tires, roll overs, how many in the winter. If you put more than 50k miles on your lease, you will need to replace the tire before your lease return. Pay now, or pay later, and give the new owner new tires. In my province, I get 5% back on my insurance for running dedicated snows. Check with your NY state provider.

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  • Sayahh Toyota Century
  • Probert Really needed more front and rear overhang.
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  • Jeffro I can’t recall a visit to a Honda or Toyota dealership that wasn’t revolting to some degree. Why run yourself ragged going through the sleazy and greedy system store gauntlet, when you can purchase your luxury vehicle with just a few clicks on your smartphone?
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