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Are 4 Snow Tires Needed on a Front Wheel Drive Car - Page 4

post #91 of 115

Beet juice is better for the environment.   X-ice IIIs are fantastic winter tires.

post #92 of 115

Aside from handling concerns, I'd also think about how mis-matching tires would lead to uneven treadwear on your all-seasons, when you put the fronts back on for summer.

 

Maybe it's not as big a deal for FWD as AWD, but you'd have more wear on your rears than your fronts at the end of the season, and your rotation schedule would be out of whack for the all-seasons. 

post #93 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluebear View Post

Planning to put good snow tires (Nokian or Bridgestone Blizzak) on our Corolla. I live in the midwest with city driving and occasional hwy, but no alpine.

Most of the tire websites warn that you should use a set of 4 and not just 2 for the front drive tires because the car will not handle safely. Have not used snow tires in 25 years but we only used two on the drive wheels and had no problems. Don't remember if they were radials.

Is there merit to this or is it sales propagand to sell 4 instead of 2 tires. Any advice appreciated.

Thanks,
Bluebear


Always use 4.

post #94 of 115

I eased into it with my '91 golf. First 2 up front (studded hakkas), then a year later the back two. 2 were good, 4 were better. Better rear traction helps prevent the front end breaking loose.

 

The end.

post #95 of 115

2 snow + 2 summer is BETTER than all 4 summer.  

The mistake most people make when answering this question is thinking it's about being better than 4 snow.  Of course 4 snow is best.  But if it's 2 weeks till payday, and you've gotten a flat snow tire, you absolutely can use 2 summer to get by.  You will have better traction for accelerating, steering, and stopping than using all 4 summer.  

The other mistake people make is sharing what they've heard about the "balance" of traction.  You don't spin because of 2 snow on the front, you spin because you don't have enough traction on the back, period.  If you had all 4 summer tires, you'd still spin.  You may spin less, but that's because you're not stopping as fast.  Remember, even with 4 summer tires, the front tires will ALWAYS have better traction because it has far more weight over them; so if you'd spin with snow on the front, you'd spin with all 4 summer.

Ok, almost 'always' more traction on the front, but with 2 new snow on the back and with bald summer on the front (or bald any type) you'd have better traction on the back and you stop better than 4 bald, but you wouldn't be able to steer, which is arguably more important, since most times when traction matters, you still don't have time to stop unless you can change direction first, and then 4 summer tires would usually enough.

Please, please, please, keep in mind, traction is NOT "all or nothing".  When your tires "break loose" they still affect your speed and direction.  Snow tires a little better than all season, which are a little better than summer.  Even among snow tires, there's good, better, best, and best will still break loose, and grip less then you need if the surface is beyond certain thresholds.  

Like another user mentioned, know your own limits.  A large empty parking lot is a nice place to get up to speed and turn sharp to see how much your tires can take in the current conditions.  It's also a good way to learn how to handle it when your tires do break loose.  So many poeple never train themselves, and when they break loose, they just let go of the wheel or hold it tight hoping for the best.  

When your tires break loose, you can ALWAYS do something.  Even the ice road truckers who water the ice have options (i.e. they can jump out with a pocket knife and dig in, just jump out the side of the truck that will let the truck slide away from you as you stop. FYI: they water the ice to fill in potholes and thicken the road.)  Yeah, traction, it's kinda important.

post #96 of 115

You want roughly the same traction generated at each tire.  Otherwise the vehicle will not handle well, which is not what you want when it's slick out.

post #97 of 115

I love how the responder's call it "saving a few bucks". Have you priced 18" snow tires lately, over $150 each. Do the math first!

As far a snow tires on the drive wheels of a FWD vehicle, You can put snows on the front only if they are of a similar compound as the rears more so on all season radials. Snows are normally a softer compound for dealing with ice and slush. The fact that you want more breaking on the rears is false, most breaking systems are 60/40 front/rear, this prevents the back-end from locking up and passing the front causing you to do a 180. I was a goodyear dealer at a gm garage, and have been putting snows on the front only of fwd's since the 80's when goodyears F32 was the industry standard. While I would not suggest putting a soft compound Blizzak only on the front, there are others that are just fine. if your are driving above 70 mph on a regular basis, or going through slalom's of snow at a competitive speed then you will be better off with four. But if your like the majority of us with cars five years old or older then you just want good tire that will keep you from getting stuck. I have used the General Tire Altimax Arctic tires soley front of a subaru legacy fwd, chevy malibu, and olds alero for many years without any issues including operating by young drivers. Let's face it, wouldn't it be great at any companies we work for that everything we sell or offer would requiring our customers to have to buy double, The manufactures suggestions are tainted by profit...

post #98 of 115

Automotive standard for brakes is to have front right and rear left on an independent hydraulic circuit from the other two tires.  This is more expensive than running front brakes together on one circuit and the rear brakes together on the other.  Why do they do this?

 

The reason is safety.  Loss of traction in the back tires (i.e. brakes locking up where only the back two engage) leads to a spin out in nearly 100% of cases.  The car is very unstable with no traction in the rear.  It will want to flip around.  You actually want to lose traction on the front tires before doing so on the rear - that will keep the car moving in the direction it was going before you lost traction.  You are less likely to swerve into other lanes or off the road if you lost traction on the front 2 vs. the rear.  This is also why FWD cars are more stable and keep going the direction they were last pointed.  RWD you can break the rear loose and flip the car around.

 

By putting inferior tires in the rear of the car, you are increasing the chances of the rear losing traction (whether you are braking or not).

post #99 of 115

How many people with negative comments have actually driven a vehicle with this configuration through all types of weather for years or even once?

 

Also the reason the braking systems are on independent modules is for redundancy in case one fails...

post #100 of 115

With all due respect to someone who just joined today, to post in an old thread about snow tires, I did drive a car with 2 winters on the front for a couple of years, and I must tell you, that having the extra 2 on the back made a significant amount of difference. With my POS Civic I had at the time, I could go anywhere. 

 

And your point about the tread compounds is well taken, but how many people out there know what the rubber composition of their tires are?  Finally, you say that people with cars five years or older that they probably want to just have a tire that keeps them from getting stuck, and such, but is it really such a bad thing that someone is on cheap winters instead of 5 year old all seasons running down to the wear bars?

 

Or to put it another way, yes the manufacturers want to sell lots of tires, sure. But does that mean that doctors who recommend brushing your teeth are driven by profit motives too? The companies that say you should maintain your gas furnace annually? The people who say you need to bring your kids to get checked up every year? 

post #101 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rushe View Post
 

I love how the responder's call it "saving a few bucks". Have you priced 18" snow tires lately, over $150 each. Do the math first!

As far a snow tires on the drive wheels of a FWD vehicle, You can put snows on the front only if they are of a similar compound as the rears more so on all season radials. Snows are normally a softer compound for dealing with ice and slush. The fact that you want more breaking on the rears is false, most breaking systems are 60/40 front/rear, this prevents the back-end from locking up and passing the front causing you to do a 180. I was a goodyear dealer at a gm garage, and have been putting snows on the front only of fwd's since the 80's when goodyears F32 was the industry standard. While I would not suggest putting a soft compound Blizzak only on the front, there are others that are just fine. if your are driving above 70 mph on a regular basis, or going through slalom's of snow at a competitive speed then you will be better off with four. But if your like the majority of us with cars five years old or older then you just want good tire that will keep you from getting stuck. I have used the General Tire Altimax Arctic tires soley front of a subaru legacy fwd, chevy malibu, and olds alero for many years without any issues including operating by young drivers. Let's face it, wouldn't it be great at any companies we work for that everything we sell or offer would requiring our customers to have to buy double, The manufactures suggestions are tainted by profit...


This is very bad advice.

Sure, you CAN put worse tires on the back than on the front, and if you drive very conservatively you may stay out of trouble.  However many front wheel drive cars have very light rear ends, and if you combine that with poorer traction tires on the rear, and find yourself needing to slow down quickly, you could be in deep trouble.  I've been driving in winter conditions since 1976,have used all sorts of combinations of drive trains and tire strategies, and know what I'm talking about. 

 

Also make sure you rotate your tires as recommended by the manufacture; don't wait until you have 10,000 miles on those front snow tires before swapping them with the rear snow tires.  That will not help your situation when you find yourself heading towards a set of corners in a snow storm carrying too much speed because you just passed a slow moving vehicle on a straight stretch without realizing exactly where on the road (the straight before the worst corners on your two hour drive) you were.

post #102 of 115

The reason for the recommendation if you only have 2 winter tires to put them on the rear, even if you have FWD, has to with handling - oversteer to be specific.  That said, 20 years ago I put two performance Michelin winter tires on the front my wife's Probe and we drove from NY to Colorado to go skiiing.  We spent 5 weeks driving in the mountains during one of the snowiest winters on record with no problems.  I think its because the grip of the fronts and rears were not that different.   While I understand the cost issue, keep in mind that your summer tires will last longer since they are not being used for a good portion of the year.  That offsets the cost of the winter tires quite a bit.  

post #103 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rushe View Post
 

How many people with negative comments have actually driven a vehicle with this configuration through all types of weather for years or even once?

 

Also the reason the braking systems are on independent modules is for redundancy in case one fails...

I have and prefer the extra safety factor of all 4 tires having snow tires.

 

braking systems are not redundant.  the brake controller/pump, there is only one of them on a car.  You're getting "channels" confused.  THese days, with 4 channel ABS, which wheel can be independently braked.  Before vehicle stability control, 3 channel was common, where both rear brakes were controlled by one channel, and the fronts each had a channel for control.

post #104 of 115

I always use four.  If all you care about is not getting stuck, two works OK, but I'm more concerned about losing control and sliding off the road. It just doesn't cost that much to use proper winter tires, and it actually  makes driving in the snow enjoyable. YMMV.   

 

BK

post #105 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimH View Post
 

The reason for the recommendation if you only have 2 winter tires to put them on the rear, even if you have FWD, has to with handling - oversteer to be specific. 

 

No one ever did that.  When I had a RWD Volvo, I put the best snow tires on the front.  My thought was that the motor had about 85 HP, but the brakes were probably 400 HP, and most of that was on the front.  The car drove and stopped well that way, and I don't remember ever getting stuck.

 

BK

post #106 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 

I always use four.  If all you care about is not getting stuck, two works OK, but I'm more concerned about losing control and sliding off the road. It just doesn't cost that much to use proper winter tires, and it actually  makes driving in the snow enjoyable. YMMV.   

 

BK


also, if skiers think winter tires are too expensive.... maybe they need to reconsider this expensive hobby.

post #107 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rushe View Post
 

I love how the responder's call it "saving a few bucks". Have you priced 18" snow tires lately, over $150 each. Do the math first!

As far a snow tires on the drive wheels of a FWD vehicle, You can put snows on the front only if they are of a similar compound as the rears more so on all season radials. Snows are normally a softer compound for dealing with ice and slush. The fact that you want more breaking on the rears is false, most breaking systems are 60/40 front/rear, this prevents the back-end from locking up and passing the front causing you to do a 180. I was a goodyear dealer at a gm garage, and have been putting snows on the front only of fwd's since the 80's when goodyears F32 was the industry standard. While I would not suggest putting a soft compound Blizzak only on the front, there are others that are just fine. if your are driving above 70 mph on a regular basis, or going through slalom's of snow at a competitive speed then you will be better off with four. But if your like the majority of us with cars five years old or older then you just want good tire that will keep you from getting stuck. I have used the General Tire Altimax Arctic tires soley front of a subaru legacy fwd, chevy malibu, and olds alero for many years without any issues including operating by young drivers. Let's face it, wouldn't it be great at any companies we work for that everything we sell or offer would requiring our customers to have to buy double, The manufactures suggestions are tainted by profit...


Cooper Weathermaster ST 225 60R 18 $100 ea from Sears. You might save a few bucks only buying 2, but what's your safety and peace of mind worth? Also, what's the collision deductible on your auto insurance. IMO, both will cost you more than the price of 2 - 18" snow tires, plus your summer tires will now last twice as long.

post #108 of 115

unfortunately the only 18" in that make/model is a 225 60, if you need something else your sol...

post #109 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rushe View Post
 

unfortunately the only 18" in that make/model is a 225 60, if you need something else your sol...

 

There are many widths and aspects (even for 18") available in many makes/models for reasonable prices (certainly no more than summer tires, which will now last twice as long).

Google is your friend, unless you're pre-disposed to being sol.

post #110 of 115

When others' lives are in your hands, being cheap is not an option.  A set of four premium winter tires, whether on a FWD or AWD vehicle, is a requirement of living in or visiting ski country. If you have to cut back by buying only two winter tires, you cannot afford to ski, and you are a danger to the rest of us.

 

Adequate traction is now the law in Colorado.  Like California had to do years ago on Donner Pass, our I-70 now has a simple rule: wreck or block traffic and be caught on inadequate tires, and you get a fine.  Else, when posted, you have to have chains or 'adequate tires' to proceed. Unfortunately, this is somewhat subjective, and the law allows a minimum 1/8" tread depth.  That is scary: during most storms here, 1/8" is pathetic.

 

And yes, I did once ski a winter in a FWD Diesel Rabbit with front-only studded Vredestein snows, in the 1970s.  Never again. Your engine braking slows the front.  Your foot brakes mostly slow the front. Your stickier snow tires slow the front. Not much slows down the rear. Going downhill, once you see the back of your car pass by your front window, it's time to grab the hand brake, steer and pray.  Nope. Four winter tires for me, ever since then.

 

Decades later, with modern suspensions and anti-skid electronics, it's critical for proper handling that the all four tires are similar in tread depth, width, height, and ride characteristics. They must talk to the computers assuring your traction in the same language.

 

Colorado got pounded last night, and today was EPIC, with most of the ski areas within two hours of Denver getting over a foot of cold fluffy.  I-70 was jammed. Road closures have become common on most such powder days, because folks either cannot afford to or choose not to properly equip their cars for driving on rutted, slick, icy refrozen slush filled with salts and gravel, and do not learn to drive as a participatory sport.  I ski mostly midweek here for that reason; within a few years of growing population, low-profile tires and shrinking driver skills, the mountains will be largely inaccessible to me, and I live only 80 miles east of Vail, 50 from Keystone. 

 

I understand that cars have become absurdly expensive, and with ever-increasing wheel size (foolish for snow, done entirely to suck down your wallet and for marketing), a good set of tires can break you.  So I'm going to provide some good advice to make this more affordable:

 

(1) Buy two sets of wheels, one for snow. This saves $80-100/yr mounting and remounting tires seasonally. This pays off your wheels in a few years, and is kinder to your tires.

 

(2) MINUS-SIZE, if you can, your snow tire wheels.  Most cars now come with big wheels and very low profile tires to make them sexier.  It's stupid in most cases.  If you want the loaded, limited version of your car, chances are it comes with these.  Both summer and snow tire choices are far more expensive and they wear out much faster. So when buying your second set of wheels, find out if you can run a smaller diameter wheel and higher profile tire for winter.  Chances are you can. It'll make a huge difference in snow driving, tie wear and tire cost. Then, in May, you can take them off and put back on your big race wheels so you can look cool stuck in traffic. The snows go back on in October.

 

(3) Educate yourself about tires.  Know the difference between all-season, mud-terrain, all-terrain, performance and ice tires. Learn why modern tire rubber compounds are sticky on ice and ductile at low temperatures.  Learn why studs are obsolete.

 

(4) Buy the best tires you can.  Spending a bit more initially means they last you more seasons, wear more evenly, get better mileage, ride quieter, and can save you a fender-bender or worse.

 

Specific Recommendations: For me, over many years now, the best winter tire is the Michelin X-Ice, the only snow tire I've seen with a mileage warranty. Best overall value, handling, etc.  I'm on my 4th set on 2 cars.  I've driven Bridgestone Blizzak's on many cars and have owned one set, found them to be a slightly better ice tire than the Michelin but shorter lived and squirmy. I also love Nokian snows for deeper snow, but they are more aggressive and noisier on the highway.

 

More on minus sizing:  Call Tire Rack (great knowledge source, regardless where you eventually buy), tell them what car you have, and if (for instance) your car has 18" wheels, ask if they sell 16 or 17" wheels that have the same bolt pattern and offset. Then find out what tire size results in the same height.  Example: VW Tiguan SE comes on 18" wheels, takes a 235/50/18 tire. The same car can run 16" wheels with 215/65/16 tires. Michelin X-Ice tires for this car cost $170 each for the 18s, $98 for the 16s. The set of 18" snows cost about $300 more than the 16s, will last half as long, and work half as well. 

 

Big wheels and their impossibly expensive racy tires are one of the biggest rip-offs we've been forced by the auto industry to accept as standard. I go so far as to encourage folks buying a loaded vehicle new to ask the dealer to sell them the smaller wheels, and put the stupid wheels on another car.  The difference in tire, brake and suspension repair costs over the vehicle life is HUGE. 

 

Me: 1999 4runner with 2 locking differentials, 270k miles, 70-series tires on 16" wheels

Summer: Michelin LTX-MS2

Winter: Michelin Latitude X-Ice

 

Wife: 2001 Lexus RX300, 70-series tires on 16" wheels

Summer: Michelin Latitude Tour

Winter: Michelin Latitude X-Ice

 

These are well maintained cars that can easily go ten more years at the rate we're driving them, and they may have to pry the keys out of my expired fingers. For our roads here, full of potholes and cracks, treacherous in winter, those 16" wheels and 70-series tires are PRICELESS.

 

My powder days are too precious for me to miss first chair because of poor tires. 

post #111 of 115
Quote:

Adequate traction is now the law in Colorado.  Like California had to do years ago on Donner Pass, our I-70 now has a simple rule: wreck or block traffic and be caught on inadequate tires, and you get a fine.  Else, when posted, you have to have chains or 'adequate tires' to proceed. Unfortunately, this is somewhat subjective, and the law allows a minimum 1/8" tread depth.  That is scary: during most storms here, 1/8" is pathetic.

 

Utah has the same laws in most of the ski canyons.  When in effect, not only do you get fined (or worse if someone is hurt) if you wreck without them.  On snow days they usually have a sheriff checking tires and 4wd/chains at the mouth of the canyon (LCC does at least).

 

My trusted tire guys won't even sell/install snow tires in sets of 2, they feel doing so is unsafe enough to be a liability issue.  I've said it in these forums before, my FWD sedan with high end snow tires does about as well or better than my 4wd truck with all-terrain (with liberal siping).  Tires matter and having 4 of them able to perform is important.  Alpine is spot on.  If 2 of your tires can't get traction they will keep moving.  If your drive tires have enough traction to hold, your vehicle will just pivot around them as described.

 

Good tips you got there!

post #112 of 115

My wife's cousin had an Acura, her first FWD car.  She put studded snows on the front only.  In a turn in an icy intersection, she spun that car like a pinwheel.  She learned her lesson--no more FWD cars for her!

 

About snow tire size:  If you're buying wheels (eBay, junk yard, aftermarket, etc.) it's fine to use the smallest original equipment tire & wheel size offered for your model car.  Likely the tires are cheaper.  They won't have better snow traction.  Continental has a good page listing the snow traction benefits of wide snow tires:  http://www.continental-tires.com/car/technology/wide-tires

The old story about narrower snow tires cutting deeper into the snow doesn't work.  With the same weight on the tires and same inflation pressure, the contact patch of wide or narrow tires will be about the same. The wider tires will have more sipes grabbing new snow each revolution.

post #113 of 115

Thanks, soft snow guy!  Yes, in the distant past, we thought a narrower tire good on snow.  Now we know it's how many little fingernails / edges we can get to claw the snow. That takes aggressive tire siping, which is what separates good ice tires from all-terrain and all-season designs. So a wide tire with lots of sipes is just fine.

 

And yes, while we prefer 4WD / AWD once we've driven it, folks with FWD cars can navigate snow with FOUR sticky tires.  Just not two.

post #114 of 115

BTW, while the smaller wheel / larger profile tire combination (assuming same tire width) will not have greater traction per square inch on the pavement solely due to the amount of tread on the ground, it WILL have overall improved traction, because the more flexible sidewalls in the higher tire let it flex and absorb impact with rutted snow and flex laterally when steering, without breaking loose. 

 

Now add how much traction you'll have over the tire life because it wears out less quickly that the low-profile version, and smaller wheels are just plain better for winter.  Not necessarily narrower, just smaller diameter.

post #115 of 115
Quote:
 folks with FWD cars can navigate snow with FOUR sticky tires.

My FWD Acura and Volvo with 4 good snows went past 4WD cars in the ditch with their four all-seasons.....:D

 

The Mrs. doesn't like driving in snow.  In the FWD Volvo with four studded snows she was driving straight & stable about 40+ on snow base when a jacked up 4wd pickup with big lumpy tires showed in her mirror, about to pass.  The next thing she saw in the mirror was the pickup rolling over in the median.  Oops.

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