Winter Driving
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curih
January 2, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
So anyone that reads this board religiously has seen my posts in other threads mentioning some winter driving fun lately.

My current vehicle is a 2005 Ford Focus with Goodyear Assurance TripleTreds. This setup has not been exactly confidence inspiring in Canaan Valley this weekend.

So what are the options here?

1. Tires. I'm already running pretty much the top of the line for an all season. Winter tires would certainly bring a huge improvement. But I live in an apartment in Baltimore. This means I don't really have anywhere to store a second set of wheels and tires. My understanding is also that winter tires perform really badly above 40 degrees or so and Baltimore isn't exactly consistent regarding cold in the winter.

2. AWD. AWD might not do as much as winter tires, but it would be an improvement from where I am now. Subaru Outback Wagons seem incredibly popular around here. Looked like at least 20% of the Timberline parking lot. Any one driving one of these? How is the snow performance with all season tires?
Bumps
January 3, 2010
Member since 12/29/2004 🔗
538 posts
I am a truck guy, but my dad loved his subaru wagon. There are a bunch of the crossover cars lately that might fit your city lifestyle. (trucks can be a pain in parking garages :)) When I was a kid, I drove a VW Bug with big winter tires and went almost anywhere, but it was ugly. As far as tires, winter tires that will clean tread well in snow tend to be noisy on dry roads. Temperature really isn't a driver. If you don't like the noise you will only do so well on the snow. But a 4 wheel or AWD drive with all season should be better then what you got. The other issue you have is the ford focus is such a light car. Once the treads get packed with snow it will just set on top and slip and slide. You probably spin a lot starting on hills and if you come into a turn a little too fast. This is where AWD will help . Gives you much better chance of finding some traction by having torque go to all for wheels. Even better with 4WD and limited slip differentials. Also a Traction control system will help to keep all wheels spinning at the same speed which helps steering control when driving on the snow. Heres a good overview of AWD/4WD and how it works. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/four-wheel-drive1.htm
curih
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Good point on weight. The Focus is just over half the weight of the Subaru, makes it kinda squirrelly in a crosswind as well. Hill starting has been the issue. Actually more of an impossibility.
Bumps
January 3, 2010
Member since 12/29/2004 🔗
538 posts
Here is my latest snow driving adventure
all night through the snow to Snowshoe. It got way worse then this but camera was acting up and didn't get good pics later.

On way out a few days latergoing up mountain a tractor trailor got stuck. we ended up going around after he waved us by. He was starting to jacknife and smartly just stopped until someone could come and pull him out.


My ride of choice, F150 supercab 4x4 offroad package with towing. Its my second and both have been great. I get short bed because I too drive a lot in city. I have learned where to park in DC area. I often get close and metro or cab it if it is a problem. easier that way.

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EarlyMan
January 3, 2010
Member since 09/12/2009 🔗
2 posts
Winter tires do make a huge difference and could even transform your Focus into a respectable ski trip vehicle. The two drawbacks you mention are easily overcome. Paying for a place to store your tires Spring through Fall may seem like a waste of money, but is a whole lot more economical than buying and maintaining a car with an AWD system. As for driveability in dry conditions, the Michelin X-Ices I have are quiet and comfortable but still provide plenty of grip on snow and ice. A less expensive option is the Firestone Winterforce which do as well in the slick stuff but aren't quite as quiet or comfortable. If comfort is a deal breaker, spend the extra $25 a tire for the X-Ices--you'll still be many $1000s ahead. Of course, if poor snow performance is just an excuse to buy a new car, then go ahead and do it. Our economy can use the boost.
fishnski
January 3, 2010
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Can you just buy 2 snow tires & put them in the front on a front wheel drive? or do you have to put them on all 4?..How do the Bridgestone Blizztacks(Spell?)..figure in price & performance?...I have to ride 7 hours(mostly Hi way) on usually Snow free roads till I get to Snow country..Does that leave the least expensive Firestones out?
Ive got FWD on a new 6 cly Ford escape that I bought Tire Cables for & the combo seems to work well..I'm inquiring about my new Chev aveo hatchback for the tires because if I can get that little bug up thru the Snow I'll have money saved from the Gas expense for Timbers Pub!! grin
curih
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
I believe using just two snow tires is very dangerous. You'd have a huge difference in traction. Your rear end would be sliding all over the place.
curih
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
EarlyMan, how do the X-Ices perform in warmer weather? I'm not talking about summer, but the usual couple weeks of 60s and even 70s Baltimore can see in the middle of winter? The Michelin page suggests they'd do alright, but I always thought snow tires were softer rubber that would get very mushy when warm.
comprex
January 3, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts

curih, another option for you:

http://www.greendiamondtire.com/

next best thing to studded - and you're -supposed- to put them on at Halloween.
curih
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
comprex, those look interesting, but according to their 1996 era website, no one carries them around here.

Yeah, Halloween. In Michigan maybe. I'm still running in shorts at Halloween here. smile

Why doesn't anyone run a combined tire sales, storage, and service business? That would make this a lot easier.
comprex
January 3, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: curih

I'm still running in shorts at Halloween here. smile


That's the idea. You're /supposed to/ wear off last season's oxidized rubber on dry pavement so fresh crystals get exposed.

Quote:

Why doesn't anyone run a combined tire sales, storage, and service business? That would make this a lot easier.


Sounds like it's storage you're looking for. I get everything else from

http://www.radialtire.com/services.nxg
Bumps
January 3, 2010
Member since 12/29/2004 🔗
538 posts
Quick google search shows you are not alone.

http://www.epinions.com/review/Nokia_Nok...nt_129082232452

Nokia Snow Tires Save My Ford Focus!!
Written: Feb 08 '04 (Updated Feb 14 '04)

Product Rating:
Handling and Control:
Pros: Great traction on wet or icy roads.

Cons: None...added tire noise comes with snow tires.

The Bottom Line: Need snow tires? You can't beat Nokia Hakkapeliita II tires!




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

swb's Full Review: Nokia Nokia/Hakkapeliita 1 Passenger/Performance ...
Putting a set of Nokia Hakkapeliita II snow tires (195-60R15) on my 2003 Ford Focus 2003 ZTW wagon allowed me to keep the car. After several very scary incidents on wet or slightly icy roads, it became very evident that the Goodyear Eagle All-Season radials that came with the Focus were the worst match of car and tires I have ever experienced in over thirty years of driving. (See my review of the 2003 Focus ZTW wagon for more details).

After returning from a trip to Maryland, my wife and I were so scared about the ability of the car to grip the road that we decided that if different tires didn't correct the problem, we would be forced to get rid of a nice little wagon that we really enjoy and feel to be a great car for the price.

Living in western New York, I decided to opt for snow tires for winter driving and separate tires for the rest of the seasons. After doing on-line research and checking local availability, I decided to go with the Nokia Hakkapeliita II snow tires. What a difference.....this little wagon now feels like a SUV....seriously...it grips the road as well as the 4WD Explorer I owned. After getting the tires installed, I took a test spin on a very icy parking lot. Traction was extremely good and braking distances were fantastic. Of course, anyone should always be careful on very wet or icy roads and reduce speed....but I now feel confident in driving this car in wintry conditions.

Noise level? Yes, the tires generate more noise than all-season or summer tires, but not enough to keep me from taking extended trips or endangering my safety.

Tread wear? Too early to tell...will update when valid information is available.

Final thoughts:
1. If you buy a Focus...don't accept it with Goodyear Eagles unless you never drive on wet or wintry roads.
2. Nokia snow tires are the best snows I've ever owned!
I do believe that they are a notch better than the Michelein Alpin or Brigestone Blizzak, two other snow tires that get excellent reviews. My son had Michelein Alpins on the rear of a Crown Vic, and they were a great tire!


Recommended:
Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 475 total
curih
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Originally Posted By: comprex

Quote:

Why doesn't anyone run a combined tire sales, storage, and service business? That would make this a lot easier.


Sounds like it's storage you're looking for. I get everything else from

http://www.radialtire.com/services.nxg



Yes. The ideal would be to drive to the shop, they swap the tires for you and store the others. 4 months later repeat. A quick search shows that this type of service does exist elsewhere (Canada, CO, NY, etc), but I couldn't find anything around here. If it did exist here, I'd jump on that type of service in a second.

I could store tires in our basement. I'd still have to carry them up and down stairs and load them into the car to take them to the shop to get swapped. I have neither the space nor the tools to do it myself.

I may have to test drive a Subaru before I make up my mind. It's certainly the more expensive route, but it may be adequate and much easier to manage. It's really only starting on hills that was a problem. I found the handling with all seasons to otherwise be acceptable as long as cautious winter driving was observed. Keep the speed down, use higher gears, judicious use of engine braking, etc.

(And of course, it's a good excuse to upgrade to a nicer car that will come with, for example, hubcaps that stay attached to the wheels. wink )

Thanks for the input everyone.
comprex
January 3, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: curih
Keep the speed down, use higher gears, judicious use of engine braking, etc.


You forgot "separate inputs".
b2otto2
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/1/2003 🔗
65 posts
One of the best and cheapest snow tire is the General Altimax Arctic. Made in Germany by Continental tires from a Gislaved tire mold. I have used Nokian Hakkapeliitta tires in the past, great tire in the snow and wears like steel, but have had too many that have went outaround after 2 years of service. My Generals are in the 2nd year on my Subie and still look like new.
JohnL
January 3, 2010
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
I bought a new 2009 Subaru Forrester in the past year; low 20's was the cost. Not a bad deal given the price of today's new cars. Plus it gets ~28+ mpg highway and has a lot of cargo room compared to the current cross-overs (which tend to sacrifice cargo area for the aesthetics of sloped rear roof lines.)

Slightly bigger/heavier car may also be an option. I still have a 10 year+ VW Passat. 34 mpg highway (though requires 93+ octane.) Works well getting to/from Timberline and have driven it through some very gnarly WV conditions. Upgraded all season radials, not snow tires. If you have to navigate an unpaved or very steep side road to get to where you're sleeping, then it's limits are exposed. wink When the snow is drifting very heavily across the main road (like this past weekend), you don't have as much margin of error vs a Subie, but if you exercise good driving technique, you are fine.

For the Epic dumps (like the weekend before Xmas), all bets are off. Ground clearance becomes a huge issue. I was snowed in on Sunday in Annandale, VA. Rutted packed snow depth was greater than the ground clearance on my Forrester. I might have made it out, but I might have gotten stuck and in the way of the plows when they finally made it to my neighborhood. Opted to not risk it. The night before, a fire truck and ambulance got stuck in my hood for nearly an hour. And fire trucks have some serious ground clearance...
curih
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Originally Posted By: comprex
Originally Posted By: curih
Keep the speed down, use higher gears, judicious use of engine braking, etc.


You forgot "separate inputs".


No. I said "etc.". wink
curih
January 3, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Originally Posted By: JohnL
I bought a new 2009 Subaru Forrester in the past year; low 20's was the cost. Not a bad deal given the price of today's new cars. Plus it gets ~28+ mpg highway and has a lot of cargo room compared to the current cross-overs (which tend to sacrifice cargo area for the aesthetics of sloped rear roof lines.)

Slightly bigger/heavier car may also be an option. I still have a 10 year+ VW Passat. 34 mpg highway (though requires 93+ octane.) Works well getting to/from Timberline and have driven it through some very gnarly WV conditions. Upgraded all season radials, not snow tires. If you have to navigate an unpaved or very steep side road to get to where you're sleeping, then it's limits are exposed. wink When the snow is drifting very heavily across the main road (like this past weekend), you don't have as much margin of error vs a Subie, but if you exercise good driving technique, you are fine.

For the Epic dumps (like the weekend before Xmas), all bets are off. Ground clearance becomes a huge issue. I was snowed in on Sunday in Annandale, VA. Rutted packed snow depth was greater than the ground clearance on my Forrester. I might have made it out, but I might have gotten stuck and in the way of the plows when they finally made it to my neighborhood. Opted to not risk it. The night before, a fire truck and ambulance got stuck in my hood for nearly an hour. And fire trucks have some serious ground clearance...


Good info. I'm not planning to try to drive in deep unplowed snow, so that sounds good. The biggest problem I've encountered was a plowed road that wasn't taken down to pavement, but left with a half inch or so of packed, compressed snow. It was cindered, but they'd all sunk into the snow and left it just as slick as without.
rmcva
January 4, 2010
Member since 01/28/2004 🔗
187 posts

I'm a big fan of Blizzaks (WS series). I've used them for many years driving to WV and still do since they've done very well for me.

I started using two WS-50's on the front of a Honda Accord. It sure helped get the car going but the tail would easily spin so that wasn't good. Added two more WS-50's on the back and no problems. At the time I had a second home in Elkins and skied SS, TL, and CV anytime there were large dumps and this tire setup got me there everytime in those big snows (traveling from Alexandria).

I sold my house in Elkins and bought another one a few miles from Snowshoe. I also replaced the Honda with a 2009 Subaru Outback. For it, I purchased a set of used Subaru Outback wheels, mounted new WS-60 Blizzaks and they've really done good this year. I was at SS when the big dumps came before Christmas and then again this past week. So far the Subie and WS-60's have been super. It managed to plow thru that deep snow and traction and handling were very good. Since it has about 8 1/2" ground clearance, it should be much better than the Honda.

I've used them for years and totally satisfied so I highly recommend Blizzak WS-60's - not two but all four tires.
curih
January 4, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
To those who responded about using winter tires, I'm curious. Do you swap them yourself or take them to a shop?

I'm starting to lean towards replacing the whole car since yet another thing just broke.
comprex
January 4, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: curih
To those who responded about using winter tires, I'm curious. Do you swap them yourself or take them to a shop?


Swap.

Nothing to it, since they're on different rims. smile
fishnski
January 4, 2010
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Nobody is into good all seasons with a set of snow cables(VS Chains..Cables ride faster)to get you out of jams?..Much cheaper.
If I do go the Snow tire route everything that I have read including on this thread points to the Generals for all around best bang for buck & the Blizzaks for a little more mullah but still worth it..the Nokias are too expensive & the ones Comprex brought up..too hard to get?...& On all 4 tires!!
chaga
January 4, 2010
Member since 11/24/2009 🔗
587 posts
i drive in the snow A LOT and can tell you continental contiextreme contact all-weathers are bomber in the snow! (i have awd also tho) they wear down a little faster because of the aggressive tread, but you should be able to get 30K miles out of em i think? On my 3rd set of em i like em so much
curih
January 4, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Originally Posted By: comprex
Originally Posted By: curih
To those who responded about using winter tires, I'm curious. Do you swap them yourself or take them to a shop?


Swap.

Nothing to it, since they're on different rims. smile



Manually? The recommendation is always to use a torque wrench, but it doesn't seem like it should be an absolute requirement.
curih
January 4, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Originally Posted By: fishnski
Nobody is into good all seasons with a set of snow cables(VS Chains..Cables ride faster)to get you out of jams?..Much cheaper.


Now that seems like a more reasonable option for someone without the space to store and change tires/wheels themselves. How hard is it to put the cables on and off when needed. Leaving Canaan valley, if I had them i would have wanted them for the first 20 miles or so and then would have wanted to pull over and remove them to be able to drive faster.
comprex
January 4, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts

Originally Posted By: curih

Now that seems like a more reasonable option


grin Until the first time you can't -quite- get them on with the right amount of tension grin

If chains were any sort of magic bullet, winter tires would never have gotten invented.

Originally Posted By: curih

How hard is it to put the cables on and off when needed.


Pain in the behind. _COLD_ pain in the rs since by definition you're doing it only when there's snow.

Quote:

Leaving Canaan valley, if I had them i would have wanted them for the first 20 miles or so and then would have wanted to pull over and remove them to be able to drive faster.


You need to pull over and remove them if there is no snow on the road anyway.

Unless you plan on doing the entire trip under 25mph and wrecking your tires in the process.


comprex
January 4, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: curih
Manually? The recommendation is always to use a torque wrench, but it doesn't seem like it should be an absolute requirement.


1) Manually, why not?

2) I'm a guy. _Of_course_ I have torque wrenches.

3) Good thing, 'coz it's not like the air impact wrenches at most shops are (even remotely) torque calibrated.
rmcva
January 4, 2010
Member since 01/28/2004 🔗
187 posts
I change my wheels/tires myself since I have a second set of wheels. One set is all season and the other the snow tires.

The softer the tire the better the snow/ice grip. However, that comes at a cost, the softer the tire the faster they wear out. My Blizzaks are usually put on around Christmas and are removed early April. I'll get two maybe three years use out of a set (roughly $100 each for the tire). The tires will last longer when driving in cold temps and snow.

GGNagy
January 4, 2010
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
445 posts
Originally Posted By: comprex
Originally Posted By: curih
Manually? The recommendation is always to use a torque wrench, but it doesn't seem like it should be an absolute requirement.


1) Manually, why not?

2) I'm a guy. _Of_course_ I have torque wrenches.

3) Good thing, 'coz it's not like the air impact wrenches at most shops are (even remotely) torque calibrated.



There are guys who DON'T have torque wrenches?

Shoot. My wife even has her own torque wrench.
curih
January 4, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Originally Posted By: GGNagy
Originally Posted By: comprex
Originally Posted By: curih
Manually? The recommendation is always to use a torque wrench, but it doesn't seem like it should be an absolute requirement.


1) Manually, why not?

2) I'm a guy. _Of_course_ I have torque wrenches.

3) Good thing, 'coz it's not like the air impact wrenches at most shops are (even remotely) torque calibrated.



There are guys who DON'T have torque wrenches?

Shoot. My wife even has her own torque wrench.


Ouch. Yes there are. They're the guys that don't have garages and live in apartments with street parking.

It would also probably horrify you to know that the only power tools I own are a drill and a Dremel. smile
fishnski
January 4, 2010
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Come on Comprex..they got those Cables down to a science eek blush
Ive only had to use them once..getting UP^ my frozen icy gravel rd up at canaan. My FWD Ford Escape with all seasons have gotten me around with no problem every other north pole visit..got that spin/traction button too!
Bumps
January 4, 2010
Member since 12/29/2004 🔗
538 posts
Originally Posted By: curih
Ouch. Yes there are. They're the guys that don't have garages and live in apartments with street parking.

It would also probably horrify you to know that the only power tools I own are a drill and a Dremel. smile


Hey, I grew up in a garage and couldn't wait to get away from tools but they will find you eventually. smile BTW, no-one torgues lug nuts. Air wrench em down until it stops spinning. Ifdoing by hand, tighten while jacked in air then go around agin once tires are on ground. Extra points for standing on lug wrench. grin Also, if you ever need a course on how to jack up a car with a few fallen trees and rocks I am your guy. Finally I was thinking about your storage problem. I suggest one of those land rover racks. You could throw he tires up on top and lug them around. Just have a cable and lock to keep them for more then a week. The better half may complain a little, but you'd have the toughest looking focus around. And added bonus of some additional traction making weight. laugh I obviously have too much time on my hands lately to be thinking about this crazy
comprex
January 4, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: fishnski
Come on Comprex..they got those Cables down to a science eek blush


Science, huh?

I will freely admit that I have -never- used a set of chains more scientifically advanced than a mediaeval torture rack.
comprex
January 4, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: Bumps
BTW, no-one torgues lug nuts.


Haven't hung out with the Eurosportcar obsessive bunch much, have you? grin

I tell ya, one, two, ok, maybe 20 warped fancy-shmancy brake rotors and they get all twisted and heated up about it.
jimmy
January 5, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Bumps for the win,


Originally Posted By: Bumps
............. Finally I was thinking about your storage problem. I suggest one of those land rover racks. You could throw he tires up on top and lug them around. Just have a cable and lock to keep them for more then a week. The better half may complain a little, but you'd have the toughest looking focus around. And added bonus of some additional traction making weight. laugh I obviously have too much time on my hands lately to be thinking about this crazy


Am i the only one ROTFLMAO?
comprex
January 5, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: jimmy
Bumps for the win,

Originally Posted By: Bumps
toughest looking focus around.


Am i the only one ROTFLMAO?


That ^ bit was money.
rmcva
January 11, 2010
Member since 01/28/2004 🔗
187 posts

Tire Rack has some good info on tire pressure.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=73
songfta
January 13, 2010
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
Having grown up in snow country (Utah) and lived in New England for 10 years before moving to DC, I wholeheartedly recommend proper winter/snow tires if you plan on regular jaunts into snow country.

Chains and cables are great in a pinch, but they're murder to put on in the cold (unless you've practiced a lot during better climes, they're not always intuitive - and doing so in the cold makes it worse). And having to stop to remove the chains once you hit dry/damp pavement is a chore.

My motto with all-season radials: they are like Swiss Army knives: jacks of all trades, but masters of none.

Friends of mine who live in Vermont and drive VW GTIs swear by the Nokians: they provide rock-solid grip in nasty winter conditions, including snowy and icy back roads. Having driven one of their cars, it outclassed my Subaru running all-seasons by quite a bit.

(That said, my Subaru was sublime in the snow and ice when festooned with Michelin Arctic Alpin tires.)

And always, always go with matched tires on all four wheels!

I can vouch for the aforementioned General tires: great value, great tread life, and good traction. Given that winter driving here isn't as long-seasoned as in deep New England or the Rockies, it's probably your best bet. And many tire centers and/or mechanics will store your tires/wheels off-season for a nominal fee.

Good luck!
curih
January 13, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
Followup time.

1. This has made an excellent excuse to upgrade to a new vehicle. I'd been thinking about it anyway just to get something nicer than the Focus. I'm test driving an Impreza tonight (They mutilated the Outback in 2010.).

2. If I decide to head to WV more often, I will probably get winter tires as well. It's never been an issue fo our usual jaunts to the Poconos. I've come to the conclusion that with the purchase of a better jack and a wrench I can change them myself as long as I can convince my neighbor to give me his half of the parking pad for a couple hours.

songfta, I couldn't find anyone around here that advertised they'd store tires/wheels, but I'd definitely be willing to pay for it if someone does. Maybe they're all doing it on the side and don't advertise?
curih
February 2, 2010
Member since 02/18/2008 🔗
177 posts
And if the Subie doesn't cut it, I'm just going to give up and get one of these.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBjlSJf4274
Bumps
February 5, 2010
Member since 12/29/2004 🔗
538 posts
Originally Posted By: curih
And if the Subie doesn't cut it, I'm just going to give up and get one of these.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBjlSJf4274


Its time has come!!!! I think this is the coolest!
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