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Old 10-03-2009, 05:47 PM   #1
BlackArcher101
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Exclamation The Winter's Coming Winter Tires Thread

Every year this thread eventually comes up with the usual following questions/comments. So I decided to get a head start and put the usual down, with a few answers.

1. All-Season tires are good enough for winters in Calgary.
A common misunderstanding since the majority of days in the winter time don’t have snow accumulations on the road. The problem with this idea is that a common all-season tire has a harder rubber which loses traction in colder temperatures (even below +7C). This can greatly affect tire performance even on dry pavement. For this reason, a softer compound winter tire is still recommended. It's also playing on a huge gamble that it will never snow in Calgary and if it does, you either park your vehicle, risk driving on inferior tires, or somehow find winter tires during december.

2. The car came with all seasons, so they must be good enough.
The tires that come on new vehicles are usually very low grade as the automakers have deals with the tiremakers to receive cheap tires in bulk. An aftermarket all-seasons tire will usually outperform the OEM tire.

3. I have a 4x4 so winter tires aren't needed.
Another common misconception is that 4x4 gives you traction. This is not the case as a 4x4 may assist in the ability to start from a stop, but does nothing for you when coming to a stop. In fact, the extra weight of the 4x4/suv could hinder the stopping ability more.

4. I can't afford two sets of tires so I have to stay with new all-seasons.
There are tires out there which can be used year round while still giving the performance of a rated winter tire. This means two sets of tires (one summer, one winter) are no longer required. These types of tires are not called all-seasons and instead “all-weather”. A common brand is the Nokian WR.

5. Does price make a difference on winter tires?
Yes and no. Usually within the same brand of tire, the higher the price the better the performance. When comparing different brands to each other however, care must be taken in researching and comparing performance vs cost. A $150 tire from Michelin may perform the same as a $120 tire from BFGoodrich, but a $180 tire from Michelin will probably outperform the $150 tire from the same company.

6. My M+S tires are winter rated so they are good enough.
A Mud & Snow rating on a tire does not mean they are winter rated. This rating refers to the amount of space between treads and the ability of the tire to shed mud and snow from within the tread and not necessarily the traction.

7. How do winter tires vary?
This is a question that essays could be written on. I'll keep this short and to the point. There are three main kinds of winter tire; Ice, Snow, and a blend of the two. Ice tires will have less space between treads and lots of siping. Snow tires will have more space between treads (more aggressive) but still have an amount of siping in them. A combination of the two will try to have the best of both worlds, but won't meet the performance of the other two on ice or snow.

8. What should I look for in a winter tire?
Let's ignore price for this category as this is a factor I can't advise you on. A better winter tire will have the "Severe Snow" rating which is in the form of a small picture of a mountain with snowflake inside it. Not getting into specifics, a winter tire should have a good amount of siping for ice traction. These are little "cuts" or "slits" in the tire which allow it to flex over and grab the road a bit better.

9. What winter tire should I buy?
An impossible question to answer as it varies by vehicle, where & how you are driving, budget, noise, etc. If you do some mountain driving or are worried about deep snow, get a tire with a bit more aggressive tread. If mainly worried about ice or packed snow in the city, then a full ice tire might be better for you. I will leave actual tire recommendations to this thread and not in this post.

10. When should I buy and/or install them?
Buying winter tires in the early fall is the best way to get what you want at a decent price. Not to mention you are beating the rush of the "oh my god it snowed for the first time and I'm stuck, I need tires asap" people. When to put them on is a different game, as I look at it betting on roulette. Will it snow before Thanksgiving or can I wait till Halloween? Who knows, it's your decision. I personally do it near Thanksgiving and the colder temperatures are a good enough reason to switch over.

11. Do I only need two winter tires if I'm driving a front or rear wheel drive vehicle?
NO!!!! You need all 4! A rear wheel drive car may get away with it, but in turns and under braking, the imbalance of traction can cause issues. A front wheel drive car is more critical to get all 4 tires, as the increased traction on the front will make the car want to swap ends and you might find yourself driving backwards coming up to a red light. Keep the proper balance of traction and get identical tires on all 4 corners.

12. Do I need tire studs?
This is entirely up to you and the style of tire you have. If you have a snow tire and are worried about ice/packed snow traction, then maybe studs will be of a benefit to you. If you already own a pure ice tire, then studs might be overkill, especially in the city. Keep in mind, studs add noise to a tire, likened to a stone being stuck in your tread, but instead lots of them. Studding will usually run you another $20-25 per tire. A studless winter tire is more common that one allowing studs.


I hope this guide helps a bit. I'll leave this open now to discussion on what tires someone should buy and from where.
As for what I'm sporting, it's Kumho KW19's studded, installed this weekend.
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Old 10-03-2009, 05:53 PM   #2
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My all season tires have worked for countless years. With the constant chinooks we get there's not that many days that we have to deal with bad driving conditions.
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Old 10-03-2009, 06:27 PM   #3
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I run Nokian Hakapallita (or some crazy spelling) on my Spec B...they are wicked winter tires. This will be my 3rd winter on them since on got my Subby. I always wait as LONG as possible to keep the wear off them because they are a pretty soft rubber. I also take them off ASAP...usually on in early Dec of in early - mid March. I'm thinking I could get 5 - 8 season off them which would be stellar for winters.
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Old 10-03-2009, 06:36 PM   #4
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I dont have regular tires, I have 'all-season' tires. So I should be good on wintery roads.

...Kidding! My little yaris is hilarious fun on bad roads, but this time I think I am going for the winter tires.
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Old 10-03-2009, 07:01 PM   #5
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I run Nokian Hakkapeliitta R on my Mazda 3 as well... really good traction in ice and snow. I have tried to warn my parents but they won't listen, while my mom never crashed in the winter, my dad had 2 minor crashes because his truck slid on packed snow and could not stop.
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Old 10-03-2009, 07:04 PM   #6
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I don't need winter tires because my truck has seatbelts and airbags.
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Old 10-03-2009, 07:15 PM   #7
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Anyone know who will store tires if you don't have a garage? I don't need to buy new ones, just need a place to store them. Toronto has a place dedicated to this, I'm hoping there's something like this here.
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Old 10-03-2009, 07:17 PM   #8
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Buy a tire stand and stick it in someone's basement.
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Old 10-03-2009, 07:48 PM   #9
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I use the Bridgestone "Reds" that they used to use in ChampCar!

They are a very soft compund slick tire, So soft that they actually stick to the road. I get much better lap times and I'm never bored while driving on Calgary streets in the Winter!!
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackArcher101 View Post
11. Do I only need two winter tires if I'm driving a front or rear wheel drive vehicle?
NO!!!! You need all 4! A rear wheel drive car may get away with it, but in turns and under braking, the imbalance of traction can cause issues. A front wheel drive car is more critical to get all 4 tires, as the increased traction on the front will make the car want to swap ends and you might find yourself driving backwards coming up to a red light. Keep the proper balance of traction and get identical tires on all 4 corners.
First of all- great info there. But I just wanted to throw something out there for people.... given the choice between "just staying with my all-season tires" and just getting 2 winter tires- get the two winter tires. Just make sure to install them on the rear wheels.

Long story short- last year I got 4 rims and then 4 new tires, but only manages to get 2 of them mounted. So those went on the rear of my car. I had much better braking, and I was unable to get the back end of my car to slide at all going around corners; unless I went so fast that the front end would slide first.

Yes, last year I was a serious doubter about winter tires. It just so happened that I was at Pick-a-Part with a buddy and they were dropping off a Chevy version of my car with perfectly intact aluminum rims. I had about 12 seconds to decide if I wanted those rims; as the rest of the vultures were on their way over.
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:16 PM   #11
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Anybody know of any tire that's like the Nokian WR? Those buggers at Kal-Tire can't seem to mount tires without damaging my vehicle somehow.
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Old 10-04-2009, 09:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shazam View Post
Anybody know of any tire that's like the Nokian WR? Those buggers at Kal-Tire can't seem to mount tires without damaging my vehicle somehow.

Speaking of KAL Tire, how do four $235 tires end up being almost $1300 installed when installation and balancing is supposed to be included in the price?
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:10 AM   #13
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Did they say rims (and maybe hub caps) are included in he 235? Also, did you have old ties disposed by them? (that shouldn't cost much though)
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:16 AM   #14
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i'm taking the dive this year (probably thanks to CP). Are there any tire places you guys recommend or perhaps places that should be avoided? I have a Toyota Matrix and last year was ... well ... interesting. I also have a double garage and am hilariously inept at skills that would be classified as "manly", so I have plenty of room to get a dedicated set of winter tires.

Sort of makes sense to me as eventually everybody has to replace their tires, and a second set should just double the life span.

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Old 10-04-2009, 11:33 AM   #15
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I have nowhere to store my tires and therefore never get winters because of storage issues. Does anyone know where a gal could get some all season or all weather tires for cheap (aka lightly used) I've tried all the kijiji / usedcalgary / craigslist ads and none are really anything great. Do some tire places have used options?
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:39 AM   #16
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Forget the all season thing. Get yourself dedicated winter (mid-October to mid-April) and dedicated non-winter tires. (mid-April to mid-Ocotber)
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:44 AM   #17
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So I was just going to get some new all-seasons from Costco for cheap but this thread has changed my mind.

I've got a 2006 CR-V but I don't think Nokian WR's will fit my car, any other suggestions for all weather tires for a CR-V?
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:57 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Special One View Post
Forget the all season thing. Get yourself dedicated winter (mid-October to mid-April) and dedicated non-winter tires. (mid-April to mid-Ocotber)
If we lived in a snow belt where a lot of snow falls I could see your point. Most of the winters here are spent driving on dry pavement as the many chinooks melt away what snow has fallen. Then again I don't have the extra grand sitting around to spend on new rims and tires for my Ford Escape.
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Old 10-04-2009, 12:07 PM   #19
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plus like I mentioned in my above post, I live in a condo, there isn't space to have 2 sets of tires. I have nowhere to store them.
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Old 10-04-2009, 12:12 PM   #20
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All seasons rule!
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