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I would rather be in a 2WD vehicle with winter tires…

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 

 

…than be in a 4WD vehicle  with “all season” (read three season) tires when driving in winter conditions. Winter conditions being snowy roads, packed snow on roads, rough ice, that sort of thing.

 

Smooth shiny black ice, that you don’t see in time eek.gif well, may the Force be with you.

 

Why, you may ask?

 

Let’s just say that I like control. Control with steering. Control with braking. That sorta thing. Things that are important which have nothing to do with having horsepower delivered to all four wheels. Especially comforting when going downhill on a snowy road.

 

Living as I do in snow country, I can testify that it seems 90% of vehicles which have slid off the side of the road in my part of the Sierra have one thing in common. They did not have winter tires. And a fair number of said “off the side of the road” vehicles had AWD/4WD drive trains.

 

And then there was that time a few years back when we got rear-ended by a big ole 4WD truck with gnarly three season tires doing 10MPH-the pace of traffic- on a plowed road. Twas a bad day for drivin’ to be sure. Driver said he tried to brake, but to no avail. Our Subie with winter tires had no problem slowing to a crawl on that same piece of road. (wuz a spun out car ahead off the side of the road and traffic was crawling at 2MPH)

 

So friends there you have it!  Winter tires in winter conditions! Three season tires for the other three seasons!

 

And chains for the rest of you who don’t have a proper winter!

 

  

post #2 of 80

There's nothing like deciding you needn't bother putting on those chains to go down that mountain road, to convince you once and for all that there's more to this winter driving than not getting stuck through lack of traction.  It's all about control, which includes steering and braking.

post #3 of 80

Agreed 100%

post #4 of 80

 

Yes, people are very interesting. They'll spend  $30-60k on an AWD "ski vehicle" and not spend the $500-1k on a dedicated set of winter tires/wheels.

 

 To make matters worse, the trend towards larger wheeled, wider tired SUV's, even if "no-season" rated, are even worse in the snow/ice than there counterparts from a decade ago because of the wider contact patch. Winter tires need to be soft cold weather compound, with taller sidewalls on smaller diameter wheels having a narrower tread width. This is where the deadicated wheel/tire system comes into play.

 

"I don't need snow tires, I know how to drive"......don't you just love that one?!

post #5 of 80

Depends on the road.  I've done both in my life (FWD + snow tires and AWD + all seasons).  I've encountered situations where FWD+snows simply can't climb some hills in ski country without chains also, especially if for some reason you have to stop on the hill (not always within your control).  I haven't come across a road yet that my AWD+all seasons hasn't been able to get up.  Not to say there aren't situations out there where AWD+all seasons can't get up, but far far fewer situations.

 

Like everyone always says, AWD to go, Tires to stop and turn.  If you only have one or the other, regardless of which one of the two you've picked, you're making a compromise.

post #6 of 80

I think it depends on the snow, too. I've driven an AWD with all-seasons for the past dozen years, and have never slid downhill, and have been stuck going uphill only once, last winter during an unseasonably warm (ie, wet) snowstorm -- where everything had turned to glare ice, and the road was very steep. (I did get stuck off-road in deep slush once, but I'm not sure any tires would have helped that.)  I am shopping for snows for a FWD car right now, but I've never felt compelled to buy them for the AWD -- if I lived in the mountains, yes, I would. But I only go up there a lot. I guess if I wanted to drive 70 mph in a snowstorm on I-70, I would get them, too. But by and large, the snow around here isn't so hard to drive in -- and the roads are probably a lot straighter and wider than many in the East and elsewhere.

post #7 of 80

It can be frustrating not making it up an icy hill with your two-wheel (or one-wheel) drive vehicle, but I would rather have that than not be able to stop or steer going down that same hill. 

post #8 of 80

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

It can be frustrating not making it up an icy hill with your two-wheel (or one-wheel) drive vehicle, but I would rather have that than not be able to stop or steer going down that same hill. 


Fair enough, but you're still just picking the lesser of two evils.  I'd rather pick option C. AWD+snows

post #9 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaobrien6 View Post

 


Fair enough, but you're still just picking the lesser of two evils.  I'd rather pick option C. AWD+snows



But what is the threshhold at which Option C is needed? Living in the Denver metro area, where roads are dry as a bone for most of winter, AWD+snows seems like overkill. We do put snows on any FWD cars we have, though. 

post #10 of 80

I have mixed feelings.  97% of my miles in winter are on dry roads, and snow tires suck on dry roads.  Much longer braking distance...crappy, mushy handling.  They're worlds better on snow, of course, but is that improvement 3% of the time worth the sacrifice the other 97%?  Hard call.  If you spent a lot of time on snow, it's a no-brainer though, but if that were the case then opt for AWD with snows.

 

AWD with all-seasons will make it less likely you'll get stuck, but they can get you in over your head if you're not careful, since AWD doesn't do much for braking or turning.

 

Also, all-seasons ARE for all-seasons.  What we normally call "summer" tires are the 3-season tires.  They'll offer superior performance in all conditions above about 45 degrees, including wet roads.

post #11 of 80

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

But what is the threshhold at which Option C is needed? Living in the Denver metro area, where roads are dry as a bone for most of winter, AWD+snows seems like overkill. We do put snows on any FWD cars we have, though. 


That's obviously a personal choice, as is this whole discussion really.  But if you go with either of the other two options, at some point you face a problem in your future.

 

FWD+snows: At some point you will find a road you can't get up, and you either chain up (if your state allows chains and you carry them) or what?  What's your other option at that point besides turning around and hoping you can get it on the second try?

AWD+all seasons: Go slow, leave yourself plenty of space, and at some point, you may slide into a ditch or another car anyway if the roads are bad enough.  Lots of people do this every day in the winter, but I'd contend most of them either weren't going slow enough or leaving themselves enough space to stop/maneuver.  Not 100% of the time, sometimes the roads just are that bad I'll admit.

 

Choose your path.  Or, if the roads where you drive are really that bad, go with option C.  With option C, both bad outcomes are still possible in really bad conditions, but they're both a whole lot less likely.

post #12 of 80

I have been researching tires recently because I need new ones for my Subie before winter starts. I love the idea of winter tires in ice and snow, but all the research I have found states that they have relatively poor traction on dry roads and usually have poor handling. For those of us who only drive in snow 20 days out of every 365, they don't seem like a good investment. If I was going to spend 20 days straight in the snow I would more seriously consider getting a set to use just for those 20 days. But I am in the snow sporadically with a much larger percentage of dry or rainy days and above-freezing temps in between.

 

Interestingly, Consumer Reports tested a bunch of tires and rated the beloved Blizzak as having "very good" snow traction and ice breaking (not "excellent" mind you which some of the other winter tires did receive) while the Michelin Primacy MXV4 (performance all-season tire) got a "good" in snow traction and "very good" in ice breaking. So, in their tests (which I'm sure someone will point out as being flawed), the Michelin all-season had the same ice performance as the Blizzak and was just one notch down in snow performance. However, the Michelins were better in nearly every other rating criteria. They don't even rate winter tires on durability -- I guess the assumption is they all suck and that is not what those tires are for. Based on the CR ratings, it seems like the better the snow and ice performance, the worse the dry and wet performance.

 

I think I'm going to have to go with the Michelin all-seasons and carry chains.

 

I should also point out that about a third of the performance all-season tires tested got only a "fair" or "poor" rating in snow traction and/or ice breaking and only the mentioned Michelins got a "very good" in either snow traction or ice breaking in the performance all-season group. More of the regular all-season tires (lower than "H" speed rating) did better in snow and ice. Some all-season tires performed pretty well in most criteria categories while others had many "fair" or "poor" ratings. This was also true of the winter tires where one of them actually got a "poor" rating in snow traction and only a "good" rating in ice breaking.

post #13 of 80



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by carve View Post

I have mixed feelings.  97% of my miles in winter are on dry roads, and snow tires suck on dry roads.  Much longer braking distance...crappy, mushy handling.  They're worlds better on snow, of course, but is that improvement 3% of the time worth the sacrifice the other 97%?  Hard call.  If you spent a lot of time on snow, it's a no-brainer though, but if that were the case then opt for AWD with snows.

 

AWD with all-seasons will make it less likely you'll get stuck, but they can get you in over your head if you're not careful, since AWD doesn't do much for braking or turning.

 

Also, all-seasons ARE for all-seasons.  What we normally call "summer" tires are the 3-season tires.  They'll offer superior performance in all conditions above about 45 degrees, including wet roads.



They are a compromise all year long. They are less of everything during the warmer months (compared to a performance summer tire) and a lot less than a winter tire for anything below 40 degrees. Thus the NO-Season rating.......

 

Remeber that EVERYTHING your car does goes through it's contact patch to the roads surface. Personally, I want every edge I can get, year round!

 


Edited by Rossi Smash - 9/8/11 at 5:39pm
post #14 of 80

I run 4 snow tires on a 4wd vehicle with a stick. Never been stuck once in it.

 

nothing like faceshots after getting faceshots all day long.

 

post #15 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

I run 4 snow tires on a 4wd vehicle with a stick. Never been stuck once in it.

 

 


Obviously that would be the optimum for someone in the mountains full-time ... I wish I were there full-time, too! 

 

I am just saying that, considering I've spent quite a bit of time driving to and from, in snow, with an AWD and all-seasons, and never had issues ... I'm not sure that it's that big of a deal. I also think it would be different if I lived in another area. I don't mind the compromise, since it has never caused a problem. (I'm also someone who has a few pairs of skis, but really prefers to ski just one, usually.  ;-) Same concept, I think.)

 

post #16 of 80
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by carve View Post

I have mixed feelings.  97% of my miles in winter are on dry roads, and snow tires suck on dry roads.  Much longer braking distance...crappy, mushy handling.  They're worlds better on snow, of course, but is that improvement 3% of the time worth the sacrifice the other 97%?  Hard call.  If you spent a lot of time on snow, it's a no-brainer though, but if that were the case then opt for AWD with snows.

 

Two thoughts.

 

1. There are high perfomance winter tires-V rated even-that I've used. Way better than "all season" in snow and pretty darn good @ 70 MPH. Have about 80% of the snow and ice performance of the standard R or S rated studless. My current favorite is the T rated Michlein X ice 2. Pretty decent at speed and cornering. Really good on packed snow quite safe on rough ice.

 

2. As to your 3%. Well, how often do you need your seat belts? Me? Haven't needed them for close to 15 years. That rear-ender notwithstanding. Yet I wear them every time I get into the car. Why? Well if you only need them once in 20 years they are well worth it.

 

Thirdly, the right equipment for the job. I am told an expert skier can ski a foot of fresh with 80mm skis. I suppose that is true. But I am sure said skier would be happier on something rockered and 100mm underfoot.

post #17 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post



 



They are a compromise all year long. They are less of everything during the warmer months (compared to a performance summer tire) and a lot less than a winter tire for anything below 40 degrees. Thus the NO-Season rating.......

 

Remeber that EVERYTHING your car does goes through it's contact patch to the roads surface. Personally, I want every edge I can get, year round!

 


They certainly are a compromise, but it's a pretty good compromise for most people, unless you live in the snow belt.  Keep in mind- I have a RWD car with summer and winter tires, and a Jeep with all season M+S tires.  I'm in new Mexico.  The drive from Albuquerque to Taos is all snow maybe a few days per year.  The rest of the time it's clear from town to the parking lot.  Sometimes it's clear up 90% of the way there.  So, I probably spend well over 90% of my miles on dry roads, and that's just when I'm going skiing- I'm on dry roads most of the rest of the time, too.  And let me tell you- the Blizzaks suck on dry roads.  They really take the fun out of my 335i.  The handling is sloppy, and braking and accelerating is probably worse than with my summer tires unless the temp is below ~20-25.

 

Nobody is arguing that snow tires don't kick ass in snow, and that they have huge braking and cornering advantages compared to AWD + all-seasons...on the snow.  However, you're still more likely to get stuck, and for many of us they totally suck the other 97% of the time.  Granted that 3% is the time you're most likely to have an accident, so it still takes some consideration.  It's just not as black and white as you make it seem.

 

Also, I think all 2008+ cars have tire pressure monitors.  This, unfortunatley, probably discourages people from getting multiple sets of tires since they aren't cheap.

 

post #18 of 80

If you live where it gets cold in the winter time, then you should have winter tires.  It's not just for snow and ice; they work better on dry roads when it's cold.

 

Four wheel drive is better than two wheel drive.  If you live in hilly or mountainous country, then 4x4 with winter tires is the way to go.

 

Four wheel drive with lockable diffs (and winter tires) is better still.

post #19 of 80

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

If you live where it gets cold in the winter time, then you should have winter tires.  It's not just for snow and ice; they work better on dry roads when it's cold.

 


Absolutely.  That's something most people don't realize; all-season tires really get pretty firm when the temperatures drop.  If you get *cold* winters, then you should have snow tires even if you don't ski and/or drive in the snow when you can help it.

post #20 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr5150 View Post



 



How often do I need seatbelts?  That's a bad analogy.  Seat belts don't increase my chance of an accident 97% of the time.  Snow tires on dry, 40 degree roads do.  I'll definitely be getting a more performance oriented one next time though.

post #21 of 80


FIFY

Quote:
Originally Posted by carve View Post





How often do I need seatbelts?  That's a bad analogy.  Seat belts don't increase my chance of an accident 97% of the time.  NOT HAVING Snow tires on dry, 40 degree roads does (increase my chance of having an accident).  I'll definitely be getting a more performance oriented one next time though.

http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/ResearchCentre/WinterFunctionalTires.jsp
 

 

post #22 of 80

Allow me to quote myself...

 

 

Quote:
Nobody is arguing that snow tires don't kick ass in snow, and that they have huge braking and cornering advantages compared to AWD + all-seasons...on the snow However, you're still more likely to get stuck, and for many of us they totally suck the other 97% of the time.  Granted that 3% is the time you're most likely to have an accident, so it still takes some consideration.  It's just not as black and white as you make it seem

 

 

post #23 of 80

It's like as soon as someone buys a vehicle with all wheel drive, they get a sense of invincibility.

post #24 of 80

For 6 years one of our cars was a FWD with tracton control and Hakkapilitta RSI winter snows all around - Toyota Avalon. Typically a half dozen times per year we couldn't make it to our ski house and had to park elsewhere and hoof it back to the ski house. BTW, it and others always worked better with the traction control turned off. OTOH, our current 4WD Pilot and CRV never have any trouble whatsover...

post #25 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post





But what is the threshhold at which Option C is needed? Living in the Denver metro area, where roads are dry as a bone for most of winter, AWD+snows seems like overkill. We do put snows on any FWD cars we have, though. 

I remember one spring storm on I70, (floyd hill to be exact, east bound),  every single car/truck was stuck on the hill except for the 4x4's with high profile, who got in the emergency lane to the top of the hill and onto the frontage road (I was driving my blazer with full blown studded snows on it and waited for a few trucks to go first to knock the snow level down so i could follow).   I got home around 7 and later the 10 o'clock news came on and those people were still stuck on Floyd hill!  They tow trucks were going down and pulling the people up one at a time, there were about 500 cars and trucks on that hill.   Needless to say, although rare, that 4x4 and snows were a must on that day.   It's those wet spring storms that get you.   We always drove my wife FWD car around town with snows on it and used the 4x4 for going to work in Blackhawk and skiing (driving home from blackhawk on 119 to 6th  or golden gates sucked in snow! did that for 7 years) .     
 

 

post #26 of 80

This subject comes up every year and it always makes me laugh.

 

Everyone acts like it's an arctic expedition to drive to a ski area.  The truth is that the maximum grades on interstates is 6%, and State highways 8%, and the closer you get to ski areas the better the roads and plowing get. It's harder for me to drive to work than it is to go to most ski areas.

 

It's not about climbing hills.  It's all about driving faster and stopping better on the highway.  Winter tires with 2WD blow away all season tires with AWD at that.  And it doesn't just pay off on ski trips.  Any time there's snow on the road I easily and safely drive double the speed of other traffic.  The biggest snow delays for me happen when I get stuck behind some a$$hat with all season tires.

 

I live in Upstate NY, and I've worked all over the Catskills, Adirondacks and Vermont. I've been unable to climb a hill exactly one time (on a county road) in 40 years with RWD drive and winter tires.  Even then, I could have chained up, but it was easier to drive around.  And don't tell me I don't understand about the West.  Catskills and Vermont driving conditions are more difficult than anything you'll find going to ski areas in Utah or around Denali, and far worse than anything in Colorado. 

 

BK 

 

 


Edited by Bode Klammer - 9/9/11 at 6:19am
post #27 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post

This subject comes up every year and it always makes me laugh.

 

Everyone acts like it's an arctic expedition to drive to a ski area.  The truth is that the maximum grades on interstates is 6%, and State highways 8%, and the closer you get to ski areas the better the roads and plowing get. It's harder for me to drive to work than it is to go to most ski areas.

 

It's not about climbing hills.  It's all about driving faster and stopping better on the highway.  Winter tires with 2WD blow away all season tires with AWD at that.  And it doesn't just pay off on ski trips.  Any time there's snow on the road I easily and safely drive double the speed of other traffic.  The biggest snow delays for me happen when I get stuck behind some a$$hat with all season tires.

 

I live in Upstate NY, and I've worked all over the Catskills, Adirondacks and Vermont. I've been unable to climb a hill exactly one time (on a county road) in 40 years with RWD drive and winter tires.  Even then, I could have chained up, but it was easier to drive around.  And don't tell me I don't understand about the West.  Catskills and Vermont driving conditions are more difficult than anything you'll find going to ski areas in Utah or around Denali, and far worse than anything in Colorado. 

 

BK 

 

 


But not in B.C or Montana.
 

 

post #28 of 80

I drove a lowered Honda Del sol with snow tires one season with my skis sitting shot gun throughout the interior of BC. That thing could handle the corners of a windy mountain road as if the roads were dry. It was a better in the snow than my current 4x4 suv with winter tires, got way better gas millage too.

 

 

post #29 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by surfacehoar View Post

I drove a lowered Honda Del sol with snow tires one season with my skis sitting shot gun throughout the interior of BC. That thing could handle the corners of a windy mountain road as if the roads were dry. It was a better in the snow than my current 4x4 suv with winter tires, got way better gas millage too.

 

 



Surface --

 

I was thinking of using my little del sol as a ski car too. Did you open the rear window and let the skis hang out? I kinda wish mine were automatic then we could do a ski trip in it with 2 people. (have the skis in the middle).

yahoo.gif

 

Its such a funny thought . just need the skis sticking out the back

del sol snow

post #30 of 80

I ran my Honda S2000 through four winters with a set of Dunlop WinterSport M3s mounted on 16" rims. It was perfectly fine in any of the snowstorms we had, and great on icy roads too.

 

My summer tires are known to harden up once they get below 45F, so I didn't want to use them in the winter months. The handling was fine. The M3s were better than the summer tires in the rain, and the handling difference on dry roads was negligible.

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