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Snow Tires ... Necessary or Not?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by tplyons, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    It's that time of the year... starting to wonder about snow.

    I've driven an El Camino in the snow for years, and now I've got an HHR with horrible tires, so they're getting replaced. I'm unsure if I want to get snow tires for the winter and buy another set of tires/wheels for spring/summer/fall.

    Normally I'd just get all-season tires, but 1) I hate my steel wheel/hubcap combo. I'd mount the snowshoes to the steelies and ditch the hubcaps and 2) I've got a 40 mile commute each way, mostly highway, but the last 4 miles are hilly, twisty, mountain roads.

    Thoughts? Input? What snow tires have you used successfully?
  2. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I don't need snow tires, but the rest of the idiots out on the road when it snows sure do.
    Seriously, If you're going to drive in snow regularly, they're a good idea. North Jersey doesn't get a huge amount of snow, but the hills can be treacherous.
    On the other hand, If you're used to driving an el Camino in snow, you can probably get by with all-weather tires and caution.
  3. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    With those four hilly, twisty miles, I might get some dedicated snow tires, but good all-seasons would probably be okay if you have traction and stability control. The last set of snows I had were Dunlop WinterSports (M2 I think), and they were excellent. I would recommend those. But go to the www.tirerack.com to check out the options, read reviews, etc.

    Here in Philly, we don't get much snow, and I've done fine with ultra-high performance all-seasons for years. In that category, the Sumitomo HTR+ are amazing in the snow, but IMO they ride hard and don't wear terribly well. Overall, I've been happier with Continental ContiExtreme Contacts, but I wouldn't recommend them for your situation.
  4. Check out these tires. I've had a set for 9 months on my Durango. I never needed to put it in 4wd in the snow. These tires handled the snow pretty nicely.

    I've had BFG Traction TA on my Volvo and have them on my VW. Not bad in snow, but the Yoko snow tires I put on the VW turned it into a snow machine.

    Select snow tires carefully, as some are not good on rain or ice. Spend some time cruising Tirerack. I would have never considered the HTS if I hadn't read everything on all the tires available to me.
  5. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Currently I run Goodyear F-32's on my Cavalier, Nokian Haakapaliita's on my Colt, and Goodyear MT/R's on my plow truck. The F-32's are probably the best snow tire I've ever had, but they are long since discontinued so your chances of finding them are slim to none. The Nokian's were $20 each on closeout, and I've always run a mud tire on a 4x4 during the winter.

    The Dunlop Graspic or Bridgestone Blizzak would be a good modern choice for a snow tire. They both grip well and are studless, which is ideal for a front wheel drive car.

    Depending on what year your HHR is your rims may be equipped with TPMS sensors, so either you're going to have to run the sensors in your winter and summer wheels, or deal with a "low tire" light glowing on your dashboard all the time.
  6. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Oooor do what I did in my Mustang :).
    1) remove sensor straps from wheel [this is the hard part]
    2) place in some sort of tube you can seal (I used PVC pipe and end caps).
    3) seal one end, and on the other end cap, mount an airport (i.e. method of filling the pipe bomb you're building)
    4) put sensors in tube and seal 2nd end
    5) pressurize to "ideal" pressure for your car. Toss pipe bomb into trunk and have fun.

    I did this because of the aftermarket wheels I got. They wanted something like $40/wheel for new sensors. I told them to just give me my old ones and I would deal with it.

    Of course, I think that whole thing is STUPID to begin with anyway. I check my tire pressures regularly (as well as many other car tasks - it's my baby!), so I know my pressures are right where they should be.

    On topic... I drove in PA on the back (read: dirt, unplowed) roads in my little Dodge Dakota Sport (4wd, but I rarely used it) with only normal all season tires. It was tricky sometimes, but knowing when and how to apply the torque available is helpful :). I don't know about your HHR, but, I suspect that so long as the roads are reasonably kept you'd be OK even with a good set of all season tires. Snow tires would be good just for extra insurance :).
  7. It really depends on the car. For example, my dad's Buick is fine with good all seasons, but his Saturn wont move without snow tires on it. IMO, you can never go wrong with snow tires for the winter and other tires for the summer. There isn't a way to go wrong with that, you can go wrong with all seasons in the winter. Your call in the end.

  8. theory028

    theory028 Really Loud Hamburger.

    Jul 4, 2007
    Cedar Falls, IA
    We have some cars that don't need them but others that really benefit from them. I would definitely have a set to use during the winter months if my car struggled in the snow. I was amazed at how well our Cobra plowed through snowy conditions with its set of snow tires. It's worth the cost, in my opinion, to have enhanced safety and control. They're cheaper than body shop and hospital bills. ;) They won't do much to save you from bad drivers that don't know the limits of their own cars, though. :meh:
  9. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Check your car insurance. It may not cover you if you do not have the proper tires on the car.
  10. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    I personally wouldn't have gone through all that trouble to keep the light from being on.......... that's what black tape over the bulb is for.

    If Tim's HHR has TPMS, the sensors are part of the valve stems.
  11. JacoLesFlea


    Jun 16, 2006
    I rember tire chains back in the 70's are those even legal now?
  12. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    We have a few months of winter weather around here, and the law insists having proper snow tires installed before December. Absolutely worth the money if you have more than couple of weeks of ice/snow or below freezing nights, the difference to normal tires is huge. If they're legal around your neck of wood, studded ones are very good handling icy roads, even though they make quite a noise. And, your summer tires will last that much longer, so the cost is about the same in the long run.
  13. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    There's a distinction between snow tires and winter tires. And, there's a distinction between winter and summer tires. Winter and summer tires look similar.

    Summer tires are effective in temperatures from +7C on up. Winter tires remain soft and pliable befow +7C, giving better traction. If you want to wear out winter tires fast, keep them on year round.

    Snow tires have a difference profile and substantial thread depth.

    All season tires don't really cut it and are no permitted in some parts of Canada and Europe.
  14. I grew up in a town that gets 110" of snow every winter (Muskegon, MI)... and I never knew ANYONE that used snow tires.

    No one used snow tires, no one used chains, no one used studded tires.

    Just some good old all purpose radials were always enough for us... and if you had a pickup, throw some weight in the bed.
  15. Linas


    Jan 6, 2005
    my old volvo 240 which was rear wheel drive had a tough time dealing with snow in the city even with sand bags in the trunk. There were several times i couldnt get out of my parking spot in the mornings even after a heavy duty shoveling. If i still owned the car, i would find some winter tires for it this season.
  16. Joe Gress

    Joe Gress

    Dec 22, 2005
    Pueblo, CO
    Round here? They would be nice some nights, but I've never used them on my car. Our van is a different story though. That thing needs snow tires during winter.
  17. Necessity? Probably not, but it will help at times. Depends on the car and more importantly the type of tire on that car.

    Most people I know that get extra rims and mount snow tires on them have some type of sports car with wide, flat tread tires on them. Obviously, with that type of tire you're not going anywhere in the snow.

    Other benefits with getting extra rims and snow shoes are saving some mileage on your regular set. The type of tire I mentioned usually have great street performance, but have a low mileage rating and are pricey in most cases. Snow tires in the winter will save some wear and tear. It will also prevent any chance of damaging a good rim if you were to slide into a curb, or whatever.
  18. Look used and pick something up that has a rim already. You'll save a lot of cash and it is an easy swap every year if you get tire and rim. They are definitely worth it.
  19. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Ok... massive multi-reponse time:

    Mike N. et. al: no TPS sensors. My HHR is a 2007, the year before they were standard.

    bmc: Car insurance does not require snow tires. However, I'd prefer to stay alive.

    Nedmundo: No traction or stability control. I drive this thing by the seat of my pants.

    The tires that are on my car now SUCK. They're getting replaced before the winter with something. I also currently have steel wheels that I hate, so I was going to get snow tires mounted on these, and come spring, track down a set of OEM wheels to mount all-season tires on them. Yes, I plan on having two sets mounted at all times.

    I'm actually really selling myself on this idea... it's not the cheapest way to go, but it's cheaper than replacing a bumper.
  20. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    It's not that expensive, when you consider you'll save some money on summer tire wear. And it's next to nothing when you consider they might save your car from a crash, or might even save someone's life. Two mounted sets is what I'd go for, I have the summer tires on alu wheels, and the winter tires on steel.

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