By on November 7, 2019

best winter tires

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In most parts of the country, winter is fast approaching. Like it or not, and some don’t, it will not be long before the toques are out permanently and your snow brush is getting a daily workout.

Quebec decrees that all drivers have a set of winter socks on their cars during the cold months and it is strongly recommended that drivers do so in other provinces as well. Even if your town isn’t pummeled with an annual level of snow to rival that of the movie Frozen, winter tires offer a lot of benefits when the mercury drops below 7 degrees Celsius or 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why that strangely specific number? It’s owing to the unique blend of compounds in their rubber that keeps them more pliable at cold temperatures than summer-appropriate tires. This affords them more grip even when the weather is more frigid than a school marm’s heart. Toss in a yaffle of tire engineering that permits a good winter tire to literally claw away at ice or snow and you’ve a set of shoes able to get you through winter’s worst.

We’ve hit up the folks at TireBuyer to bring you a few of the best winter tire options this year, presented in alphabetical order.

(Read More…)

By on January 25, 2019

2017 Honda CR-V Touring Rear 3/4, Image: © 2017 Timothy CainRyan writes:

Esteemed Mr. Mehta, what tires should you use when going from cold to hot weather? Imagine you were driving from Canada to Arizona in March.

Earlier this year, my parents drove their shiny new 2018 CR-V AWD to Phoenix in order to attend the Vintage Stunt Championships. The event happens in March, a perfectly temperate, even zesty, time of the year in Arizona. (Daytime high in Phoenix last March was 33C). Unfortunately, we all live in Canada. The trip went across the Rockies, and they definitely encountered nightmarish winter conditions. We’re talking near-whiteout, slippery roads, Subarus in the ditches.

Even for Canadians, a bit much! (Read More…)

By on February 2, 2018

 

snow tires

Sanjeev writes:

Hello Sajeev, I am Sanjeev.

I moved to Michigan last year and have been driving a used 2006 Corolla. I can definitely afford a better car, but this one is serving me good. Agreed that it doesn’t have all the needed electronics and sex appeal; I am not swayed by that. The recent snow (about six inches) in Detroit area made me think of buying a car with needed ESC, ABS for better handling and driving. I have heard, read a lot about FWD and AWD cars and their handling on snowy roads but haven’t fully comprehended RWD cars on a snowy road.

Many online articles generally suggest that RWD is a bad idea during winter. Still, I see many of many colleagues driving RWD 300s, Durangos, and CTSes. Is RWD better or not on snowy roads? (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2017

Snow Driving

In addition to being needlessly stressful, obligatory holiday travel poses an elevated risk of roadway mishaps. Inclement weather, congested highways, and overtaxed drivers traversing long distances is an exceptionally bad formula. We don’t have to spell it out further; you’ve likely seen seasonal roadside tragedies firsthand and been thankful it wasn’t you.

However, depending on where you’re making your holiday pilgrimage this year, the associated risks could be much higher or lower than someone traveling a few states over. Not all regions are created equal, and some parts of the United States appear to be particularly susceptible to road fatalities during annual festivities. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2017

winter driving snowy road (public domain)

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

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

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

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

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

(Read More…)

By on October 13, 2017

Our 1985 Nissan Maxima was heading south on 219 from Niagara Falls at 70 mph. The Falls are beautiful in winter, but of course traveling through New York at that time of year can mean bad roads. My dad was behind the wheel and, with no snow in sight, he was confidently chauffeuring us home to the Carolinas. That’s when he turned to my mom and said, “I wonder if this is black ice we’re driving on? Let me tap the brakes and see.”

“Dad! WooHoo!” I grabbed onto the silver metal posts holding his head rest up with both hands. That tap of the brakes had sent the tail of our Maxima suddenly passing the front of the car for the lead. Of course, as a kid I was safely buckled into a child seat. That is, if by child seat you mean we had the seats folded flat and sleeping bags spread out so we could lay down and play. Oh, the 1980s.

“Daaad!” I was still convinced at this point in my life my dad could do anything, which would include throwing our family sedan into a 360-degree spin on the highway on purpose. As cool as the first spin was, I was ready for it be over. What with the semi truck barreling towards us from behind and all.

(Read More…)

By on October 9, 2017

Winter city snow

Alert readers will have noted by this time that I have lived my entire life in the refrigerator that is Eastern Canada. Snow appears early, sticks around like an unwelcome houseguest, only to begrudgingly depart sometime after Cinco de Mayo. My father often says his retirement plan consists of loading a snowblower into the bed of a pickup truck and heading south. The first place he stops where someone asks “What’s that?” is where he makes his new home.

On Friday, I regaled you with my tale of finally paying off a car (thanks for the kind words in the comments, readers). Since I’ll be keeping the Charger, and live well into the snow belt, I will soon need to get it ready for winter.

(Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

winter driving snowy road (public domain)

Quick now: Just how full is your refrigerator at this precise moment? I mean, it is kinda full, is it sorta full, is it totally full, is it almost empty, does it have the bachelor’s portion of beer and Cretaceous takeout? The reason I ask is because when I visit my more successful friends I’m simply bowled over by the amount of empty refrigerator space they have. Double and triple Northlands or Vikings with nothing in them. Deep stacks of empty shelves. Sometimes they have empty sections, doors behind which the air is chilled to 33 precise degrees but where nothing is stored.

My friends tell me that they need the space for the parties and gatherings they are going to have. I refrain from pointing out that in the modern suburban era nobody ever goes to anybody else’s house unless it is on pain of death/shunning/shaming. That gregarious age documented by Updike and Cheever is long gone. My friends won’t be hosts. Nobody’s coming to the parties that they won’t really have. All of that empty fridge space will always be empty. They spend most of their nights on “foodie adventures” anyway, spending massive amounts of money to avoid being trapped in their homes with only Netflix to fill the gaps in their meaningless conversations. And it’s only the two of them anyway, plus one designer baby after the wife turns 38 and panics.

I feel very virtuous, almost Spartan, because I only have a single-width Sub-Z from about 15 years ago. And my fridge is relatively full. But still there’s empty space. Sometimes Danger Girl goes through and tosses a half-ton of expired food. Still more fridge than we need. Compare that to the fridge at my grandmother’s house. She had four boys living in the house. Six people to my three. And her fridge was under six feet tall. With two cramped compartments. How did she do it, particularly given the fact that she cooked a real dinner, a real lunch, and a real breakfast every night? How did she survive on one-fifth the frosted space available to my DINK foodie friends?

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2016

 

winter tires. shutterstock user Alex Polo

Jeremy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

My mother-in-law just moved from Ft. Meyers, FL to Akron, OH with her Mini Clubman S to be closer to her granddaughter. As a proud British person, she loves the car but is concerned about Midwest/lake effect winters and was thinking of getting a CUV/SUV. Having been a loyal reader of this column and the rest of TTAC, I made the foolish suggestion of just getting a second set of wheels with snow tires on them instead.

I say foolish not because it’s necessarily the wrong advice (though I want your input on that), but because now it’s my job to armchair it from 300 miles away with someone who’s not exactly a car person.

(Read More…)

By on January 8, 2016

Photo courtesy of Washington State DOT: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov

Suppose you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle and you’re looking to fit a set of winter tires. Also, let’s assume that two of those tires have much more tread depth than the other two. On which end of the car do you install the better rubber?

According to the CBC, a woman in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada (that’s my town!) ran into just this problem, complete with conflicting advice from two repair shops: One said putting the fresher rubber up front is safer as the vehicle is front-wheel drive, while the other said giving the rear more grip is the best course of action to reduce the chance of a spin out.

Which one is correct?

(Read More…)

By on January 5, 2016

1998-2000_Honda_Accord_sedan_--_03-16-2012

Pete writes:

I find myself in a situation uniquely suited to seek out the counsel of the wise and insightful folks at TTAC (Sajeev, Mark, and the B&B).

I have been a long time resident of Tampa, Florida, where my ’98 Honda Accord and my wife’s ’04 Honda Accord perfectly suit the needs of my family (which includes our two boys, ages one and three). The ’98 has about 175,000 miles on the clock. I am just handy enough to do all required maintenance and repairs myself.

My employer has offered me the opportunity to relocate to Ottawa for the next three years. My wife works as a CPA and all of her clients are here in Tampa or greater Florida. The plan for now is for her to spend the tax seasons in Tampa with the boys while I enjoy the Ottawa winters solo.

(Read More…)

By on October 14, 2015

Teddy Lee

Ontario announced this week that it would be the first Canadian province to allow autonomous driving on its roads (although maybe not autonomous Volts) and it would make insurance companies discount policies for owners who have winter tires.

The programs were announced Tuesday and Wednesday by the ministries of finance and transportation in the province.

Ontario would join a handful of U.S. states that allow autonomous cars, including California and Michigan, on its roads for testing. According to the statement announcing the program, companies developing autonomous cars can begin applying for permits next month.

(Read More…)

By on June 25, 2015

 

tint

(photo courtesy: islandsjake @ www.focusst.org)

Mark writes:

Sajeev,

I just ordered a new Focus ST, pretty much the only way to get the zero-option set up I wanted. Can’t wait for it to arrive. The car’s not here yet, but the questions are. This time, a wheel & tire question for your consideration.

While we don’t get a massive amount of snow here in Southern Illinois, we do get some. I’ve learned the hard way that relatively wide, low profile summer tires and all-seasons are bad news in the winter. I’m ready to go the winter tire route, so I wanted to get your thoughts on wheel choices for winter tires in a minus-1 size. (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2015

Yum. (photo courtesy: www.crownvic.net)

 

Long-time TTAC Commentator 86er writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Could Piston Slap furnish me with a be-all/end-all explanation about wheel offsets? The more I try to read up on it on the web, the more confused I get. I’m pretty clear that RWD (at least traditionally) went with the low-offset while the FWD revolution made high positive offsets the industry standard, at least in passenger cars.

A few years back, I had purchased a set of winter tires on rims for my trusty ol’ 92 Vic and later after research found out that the rims were medium-offset that went on a 4×4 Ranger of similar years. I’ve heard that putting on a different-offset wheel can hurt steering/suspension parts like ball joints, but I’ve never seen it in black-and-white, so to speak. (Read More…)

By on December 9, 2013

Jay writes:

Professor Mehta,

I have some friends that are moving to Colorado from native South Florida. They’ve never lived in a 4 season climate let alone driven in snow. They own outright a 2007 2WD Suburban (80k miles) L33/LS1 FTW. The other car is an Acura TL he drives for work.

Since I’m the resident car guy, they’ve asked for advice. Should they trade the Suburban and get her a CPO X5 (her dream car)? Or buy an MDX, RX350 AWD? (Read More…)

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