No idea if this site is still active, but Car Talk was (and will always be) amazing. Do snow tires make a difference on a 2005 Chevrolet Impala? The car is uglier than sin but drives really well in the snow. Just wondering if it would be worth it. Always miss the distinctive sound of the brothers laughter on the radio (I am originally from Maine after all ) -Will
Yes, but are they worth it? It depends-where do you live?
I have lived in Illinois, mn, wi, and nd, not saying it is right but never had snow tires . Maybe 8 days a year they would have been helpful but the plows keep up pretty well where I have lived certainly buy 4 of them if you think you need them
Yeah I agree with @Barkydog Others will swear by snow tires but I’ve never had them in Minnesota. The last set I bought were the Goodyear Weather Ready and they are very good all around tires for snow, rain, and good weather. Quiet and handle well. but really I’ve had them for a year and AWD for several and have yet to really try it all out in deep snow. The one chance I had last year going to the store I took the other car.
I don’t know, last year was the first even decent winter for snow since I moved out to the area eleven years ago (La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN). If we start getting snow again this year it may be worth it. Thanks for the replies, the weather is great now at least!
What is important is having a good amount of tread depth. Worn all seasons aren’t going to work, new all seasons might.
First, we need to get the terminology correct!
Nowadays, there are some incredibly good WINTER tires on the market, and they are fairly effective on ice, as well as on snow. Hence, the term “winter tire”.
Most people seem to focus only on a snow tire/winter tire’s ability to get you going in winter weather. What is actually much more important is the ability of a modern winter tire to dramatically shorten one’s stopping distances. Being able to stop in a significantly shorter distance can easily mean the difference between hitting something and not hitting something.
In all of the test reports that I’ve seen, winter tires come out noticeably better than all-season tires, so it’s never wrong to get them in an area like yours. Having said that, many people can get by with all-season tires (with good tread), especially if you can adjust your schedule to avoid driving in the worst conditions.
One observation I’ll make about your area is that winter tires remain softer than all-season tires in your extreme low winter temperatures, which does aid traction in all conditions.
Yes, but because there is no standard whatsoever for what constitutes an all-season tire, there are so-called all-season tires on the market that are essentially useless in winter conditions. Trust me, I know because my previous Outback came from the factory with Bridgestone Re-92 tires, and they were actually a hazard during winter conditions. It was because of those awful tires that I first bought winter tires, and the difference was literally like the difference between night and day.
There are other so-called all-season tires being sold, besides those Re-92 disasters, so the OP would be well-advised to use the info on the Tire Rack website, as well as Consumer Reports’ tire ratings before deciding which all-season tires to buy.
That’s correct. I should have said “all-season tires that have good ratings for snow traction”.
Thank you all for your input!!! It never hurts to have more information, I hadn’t even thought about the temperature having an effect on the tire firmness!
Thanks for the tip, I will be sure to ask about the rubber in the tire, trying to do my homework on the subject now!
In that case, you might find some of these articles to be helpful:
My micheline had an additional m/s ie mud and snow. That might be good to look for. I have an option for 4wd that only kicks in as needed. Most winter driving is in 2wd on the rear. I had a toyota pickup, lousy even in wet condition, got mud grips, that helped. 03 2wd ranger did ok. Most of the time on slick takeoffs in the snow it is a struggle for some cars, but they seem to make it. Like to put it in 4wd auto and leave them behind. Ego thing I guess.
IHave you had issues driving around in deeper snow or been able to stop, turn and get moving okay as is?
Do you have to get out and somewhere in middle of major winter event?
They definitely help however they are only worth it when roads are bad which is not a lot over winter for me personally. I ski powder days and drive night before in bad weather occasionally and manage with All seasons that are biased for winter traction.
Nokian WR tires (cheap at Walmart.com)
Firestone cross climate
To be honest I’m having trouble remembering what last year was like but I seem to recall that down in your corner of the world, you got hit pretty hard last year. I’m farther north and west and we didn’t get much until January I think and then wammo. I average ten hours a year on the snow blower and that’s what I got last year except it came all at once. The most trouble I had was driving to the airport on slick roads to go to Florida. I recommend it.
Coincidentally I used to be the Outback owner and when I changed my car to front-wheel drive one, I was worried that I would not be able to drive as easily for the skiing, so I bought a second/winter tires+wheels set.
The first time I drove it in the snow blizzard, I could not believe how much difference winter tires made.
Not only the ride was confident, but I happen to get to the unplowed road with few inches of snow and I needed to turn around, I was totally prepared to get stuck and to dig my way out, but even with AWD missing I was able to get out almost as easy as I would do on AWD with “all-season” tires before.
I presume your car has front wheel drive. If you have all season tires, you can probably get by with a set of chains as a back-up. That’s the front wheel drive configuration I’ve used here in San Jose, Calif, for when I want to go skiing in the winter. For a rear wheel drive vehicle in a place like I lived in Colorado, 6,000 feet elevation, steep mountain roads to maneuver, best bet is a set of four snow tires.
Re: “Always miss the distinctive sound of the brothers laughter on the radio”
There’s a new Best of Car Talk podcast posted weekly. So you can still listen. Click “our show” top left, then “podcast”, then “npr podcast”.
If you live in an area with lots of snow, it is better to invest on dedicated winter tires.