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Snow Tires, Anyone?

  #1  
Old 09-19-2015, 04:32 PM
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Snow Tires, Anyone?

How many of you who have snowy winters will be using snow tires? I got through last winter with the stock tires, but I'm considering getting snows. Blizzaks and plain steel wheels would cost $700. That a big lump of money.
 
  #2  
Old 09-19-2015, 05:27 PM
m_x
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Hey Silver! I'm very interested in this thread. I just moved to Denver and I'm curious myself what the best winter solution is: snow tires or all-seasons with high snow/ice performance.
 
  #3  
Old 09-19-2015, 10:03 PM
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I have snow tires. Just for the front though. In the OEM size. Dunlop Wintermaxx
 
  #4  
Old 09-19-2015, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by m_x View Post
Hey Silver! I'm very interested in this thread. I just moved to Denver and I'm curious myself what the best winter solution is: snow tires or all-seasons with high snow/ice performance.
Since you're in Denver, I would definitely recommend good snow tires. Go to the tire rack site and watch their comparison video. Buy them mounted on wheels, and switching back and forth in spring and winter will be much easier. Get four of them.

I've always had snowy winters, so I'm used to winter driving, but I'm wondering if I should stick with what I have or buy new ($700). Some winters, we get only one or two snowfalls.
 
  #5  
Old 09-19-2015, 11:14 PM
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CT gets some bad snow storms at least 5-6 times a year and I have a long commute so I picked some winter tires up.

I picked up a set of 4 15" Michelin Ice Xi3 with steel wheels from TireRack.com for 600.50 or 530.50 after mail in rebate (rebate promo ends 9/27/15) I lucked out because they have a distribution center in CT so I just drove over to avoid shipping costs.

My previous car was a 92 Toyota Paseo and I had a set of snow tires for it. I drove through some of the worst storms with no problem. Best purchase I made for that car so I'm sure it'll be the same for my new fit.
 
  #6  
Old 09-20-2015, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by SilverEX15 View Post
Since you're in Denver, I would definitely recommend good snow tires.
Lived in Denver all my life until last fall. Owned cars there from 1978 onward. (Life experience driving in CO conditions helps.) *Never* bought a winter tire.

So you can calibrate the input, we lived in the city and didn't ski, so didn't venture into the mountains frequently in the winter. But a lot more than zero. Many of our cars covered Berthoud, Rabbit Ears, Kenosha, Loveland, Eisenhower Tunnel, Vail, Floyd Hill, Genesee, Monument Hill, 36 to Estes Park, I25/I80 or 287 to Laramie, and other routes in selected winter conditions. There were rare occasions when we declined to travel due to weather. I don't think having winter tires would have changed many of these calls.

Only ever had two cars that I considered garage queens in the winter due to lack of suitable winter tires: a '99 SLK-230 and a '09 135i. (Both had summer tires, not all season. Both had lots of performance and RWD. Both were hopeless on snow. Summer tires are like brick below 35F or so. Not sure winter tires would have helped a lot in either case. Since these were third cars, and toy cars by definition, we expected they would spend quality garage time in winter conditions.) Besides those, owned 8 Honda/Acuras, a '12 Focus, a '86 Isuzu Trooper II, and a '78 Ford Fiesta. The Honda/Acuras: '86 Integra LS, '88 Accord LXi, '92 Vigor GS, '92 Civic Si, '95 Integra GSR, '00 CR-V SE, '04 TL, '07 CR-V EX-LN. The '95 Integra was probably the most marginal of these in the winter. Least suitable 4-season tires, and a whole lotta go.

FWD, (or the CR-Vs pseudo 4WD or Trooper 4WD) prudent driving, and quality 4 season tires *with tread* always got us by. (Well, we did high center the TL on a snow drift a block from home once. It was the third or fourth car stuck near there at that point. High centered the Fiesta once or twice as well. With the amount of snow underneath, it's not clear winter tires would have changed these outcomes.)

I would have no qualms taking a Fit into CO Front Range winter without winter tires.

YMMV. Especially if you live in the mountains, want to ski weekly, lack winter driving experience/confidence, or don't feel you can ever decide "not to go". If the latter, a Fit with any tires will prove insufficient maybe, average, once or twice every two or three years. The first likely problem in these cases will be ground clearance not tire traction.

No matter the tires, respect the conditions and drive, or not, appropriately. And watch out for the crazy people who think their tires or 4WD repeal the laws of physics.
 
  #7  
Old 09-20-2015, 07:51 AM
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i am running 185/65-15 general altimax arctic on 2G fit steel wheels. that is the thinnest tallest tire that fits within the fit wheel well. put 12k on them lduring last years season, and freshened up the front and will be doing the same this year.

on the car with wheel covers

height difference compared to stock 185/55-16

and this thread will be moved in ...3...2...1...
 

Last edited by rodney; 09-20-2015 at 07:55 AM.
  #8  
Old 09-20-2015, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by rodney View Post
i am running 185/65-15 general altimax arctic on 2G fit steel wheels. that is the thinnest tallest tire that fits within the fit wheel well. put 12k on them lduring last years season, and freshened up the front and will be doing the same this year.
I like the idea of the smaller size and narrower width (and lower price), but I like keeping the same diameter to keep revs down and MPG up. My son's Michelin X-Ice (15") and alloy wheels are about the same height as the original wheels and tires.

Before I buy anything, I'll check the specs.
 
  #9  
Old 09-20-2015, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by SilverEX15 View Post
I like the idea of the smaller size and narrower width (and lower price), but I like keeping the same diameter to keep revs down and MPG up.
185/65-15 is taller, thus lowering revs at any given speed compared to stock. as far as MPG is concerned, it is a negligible difference.

if you want the cheapest setup that is decent, you can run the 185 width 60/65/70 aspect ratio- 14's. on my previous commuting appliance, a kia rio, i ran the 185/70-14's with great result. for the 3g fit, i went with the 185/65-15's for overall height to soften the gearing on the 6mt, which is an advantage in wintery conditions. also, the car is slightly taller. when dragging the underbody through unplowed roads, that little bit can make the difference between getting stuck or not.

unlike denver guy, i NEED snow tires. more often that not, during jan/feb they are the major contributing factor to whether i make it home after work or sleep at the office.

oh, and for fun. you can fool around all you want, but reel the car back in when desired.
 

Last edited by rodney; 09-20-2015 at 08:26 AM.
  #10  
Old 09-20-2015, 12:08 PM
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If you have lots of snowfall that does not quickly melt, you need snows

Here in Toronto you don't NEED snow tires, but it is a lot safer to have them. Snow tires are mandatory in Quebec. In the burbs when it snows hard the streets might not be cleared within 24 hrs, so the standard 60kph/40mph limit goes down to 25kph/16mph for most drivers. We have very bad drivers. We see a lot of SUVs/CUVs/AWDs in the ditch, hitting poles, sliding out. Having snows means you can travel in a snow storm at 50-60kph/31mph safely, accelerate, turn and stop almost like you're on regular clear pavement. You will pass and avoid all these 25kph drivers easily and safely. A skilled and experienced driver may do just ok without snows, but for the average driver they will drive much better with snows I won't let my wife drive in heavy snow without snows.

Yes, they will cost you $700 initially, but below 7C/45F their softer rubber will grip better to ice and slush. Snows have three zigzag cuts in each block (see photo above), called sipes, that suck in water and freeze to the surface to give you better grip. You will also save wear on your summer tires. It is a pain to change tires before and after winter, but for safety it is worthwhile. One crash avoided will repay your investment in snows. Our snows have paid for themselves many times over the years.

Sometimes it will snow, then the temperature will rise, melting the initial layer to slush, then the temperature will fall followed by a fresh top coat layer of fluffy snow. Your tires will compress the snow but slip on the base layer of slush, which has now frozen to ice. Snows make it easier to get you going, and so does a MT.

It is also much fun to lock up the rear with the hand brake and slide the car around a corner to where you want to go.

There are limits to snows. My side street in the burbs does not get ploughed until 2-4 days after the end of a snow storm. By this time the snow could be 15cm high, frozen on the bottom and covered with a fresh layer of fluff on top. We often have great difficulty driving the first 200m to the main street, where they have cleared. Two years ago the snow was so thick that I almost got stuck right in front of my house, and not even with MT could not back into my driveway. A neighbour and a shovel helped get into my driveway, where I promptly got stuck again, but at least I was off the road. I had to get the snow blower out to clear my driveway in order to park in my garage. This was one of the few circumstances where snows did not help. My neighbours who did not have snows quickly got stuck on the street, then returned home, slowly, after digging themselves out on the street, and aborting their outing.
 

Last edited by TorontoBoy; 09-20-2015 at 12:12 PM.
  #11  
Old 09-20-2015, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by TorontoBoy View Post
Yes, they will cost you $700 initially, but below 7C/45F their softer rubber will grip better to ice and slush.
You talked me into it!
 
  #12  
Old 09-20-2015, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rodney View Post
unlike denver guy, i NEED snow tires. more often that not, during jan/feb they are the major contributing factor to whether i make it home after work or sleep at the office.
I should qualify, for all of you from the northeast and for the guy moving with his Fit to Colorado: my post relates to winter conditions in the Colorado Front Range, not the northeast, where the snows in my experience tend to be considerably wetter and ice not snow tends to be more of a problem. If work was open, I always made it there or home without winter tires. In the Front Range of Colorado.
 
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Old 09-20-2015, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SilverEX15 View Post
You talked me into it!
I'm glad to help.

I forgot to say that this last winter we rented cars almost each weekend, trying out a wide variety of small cars. Rental cars are new year models with all seasons. On a couple of weekends this winter we almost got stuck on the street. I really don't like worrying about getting stuck. Once I almost did not make it out of the rental car company's parking lot. On another weekend I had a very difficult time getting the car back to their lot. The car was almost undriveable due to the high snow. They gave me a ride back home in a Ford truck.

Also you need not use your rim covers when using snows. People here just drive without them.



Winter Tire Anatomy: Look for sipes and thick grooves that will throw out ice and snow.
 

Last edited by TorontoBoy; 09-20-2015 at 12:52 PM.
  #14  
Old 09-20-2015, 12:55 PM
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Awesome advice! From what the locals say, the winters tend to be mild in Denver. Up the hill it get's pretty snowy but the buzz is down in the city it stays pretty dry.

Really the crux I'm having is that my stock tires are ready to be replaced, and I'm not really in a position to buy snows for the winter and then new all seasons for the warm months. One, I don't have that much cash and two, I don't have storage space for a spare set...

I'm hoping that solids all seasons (like these) would do the trick at least this season and maybe even next season. However, I've never driven in snow and I appreciate the wisdom of everyone who has.
 

Last edited by m_x; 09-20-2015 at 12:57 PM.
  #15  
Old 09-20-2015, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by TorontoBoy View Post
Also you need not use your rim covers when using snows. People here just drive without them.
I'll get plain steel wheels, and I won't bother with wheel covers.
 
  #16  
Old 09-20-2015, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by m_x View Post
However, I've never driven in snow and I appreciate the wisdom of everyone who has.
Read every article you can about driving in the snow, and watch videos. Slow, steady, no sudden moves, keep your distance, and never use the brakes while you are making a turn.
 
  #17  
Old 09-20-2015, 02:28 PM
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snow tires already??? still 95* in houston
 
  #18  
Old 09-20-2015, 02:29 PM
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i used to live in michigan so i feel the struggle.
 
  #19  
Old 09-20-2015, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by m_x View Post
Awesome advice! From what the locals say, the winters tend to be mild in Denver. Up the hill it get's pretty snowy but the buzz is down in the city it stays pretty dry.

Really the crux I'm having is that my stock tires are ready to be replaced, and I'm not really in a position to buy snows for the winter and then new all seasons for the warm months. One, I don't have that much cash and two, I don't have storage space for a spare set...
The thing about winter driving in the Denver area, as much as anything, is that while it can snow like crazy for a couple of days at a time (how I've gotten cars high centered on snow), the next day it'll hit 55 and melt away. Not true in the northeast where it will stay until April. Because of this, you will drive the winter tires on dry pavement far more than on snow. This wears them out quickly, adding to their cost. I know people that did the winter tire thing and got one or two winters max out of a set. The other issue that makes this worse is it's almost as likely to snow in May and September as in January. So when do you put them on and take them off? I've been in snow conditions in Colorado on both Labor Day and Memorial Day.

My only concern in recommending you just get new all season tires is your lack of experience in snow. People in Denver have also been known to say that the biggest threat in winter conditions besides the "physics don't apply to me" nuts in luxury SUVs is the freshly arrived Californians. SilverEX15's recommendations are very good ones.
 
  #20  
Old 09-20-2015, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by SilverEX15 View Post
Read every article you can about driving in the snow, and watch videos. Slow, steady, no sudden moves, keep your distance, and never use the brakes while you are making a turn.
Here is what I told an Indian (from India, not native Indian, or Indianan) guy new to Toronto. On a day with snow on the ground, find a large parking lot, stay away from the light poles. Accelerate your car to 20mph, keep the steering wheel straight, slam on the brakes and bring the car to a stop. You'll hear the ABS kick in. Stop in a straight line. Try this at increasing speeds until you get used to it. Then do the same but turn the wheel slightly when you slam on the brakes. The car will rotate slightly. This will get you used to slightly losing traction on snow. The more you practice the more at ease you will be in snow and ice.

You can also take winter driving classes from BMW and private schools.

After a while, when there is no traffic or nearby obstacles, you'll be turning off your ABS, pulling the hand brake and sliding the car's rear into corners. This might freak out the wife, but she'll get used to it.
 

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