Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Mitsubishi Lancer ES in Vermont

I am moving from Utah to a rural Vermont community called South Royalton. I cant afford a four wheel drive car. Will the studded tires do? If so, any recommendations? Thanks.

Forget about studded tires. They damage road surfaces and the studs actually have a fairly short lifespan.

Instead, invest in a set of 4 winter tires.
Winter tires are different from the old-time snow tires because they are effective on ice as well as on snow.

The top-rated winter tire is the Michelin X-Ice tire. Not only will a set of these tires allow you to get going on snow and ice, they will also help to keep the car on track on turns. Most important of all, they will allow you to stop in a significantly shorter distance, as compared to so-called all-season tires.

However, you have to realize that even with the best winter tires, it is very important to drive much more slowly in bad winter conditions. Good winter tires will help a great deal, but they will not allow you to defy the laws of physics. Do everything (accelerating, turning, braking) in slow motion, rather than abruptly. DO NOT tailgate other cars. Leave a very large following distance between your car and the car ahead of you.

Have the tires mounted on their own set of steel wheels for ease of mounting and dismounting. Since winter tires wear rapidly in warmer temperatures, they should not be mounted until snow is a fairly sure thing, and they should be dismounted as soon as the threat of snow has ended for the season. In NJ, I mount my winter tires in mid-December, and I remove them in mid-March. In Vermont, your winter tire season will begin sooner and end later, of course.

Get good winter tires, as VDCdriver says. If your car came with a choice of a standard wheel size and a sportier wheel size, go with the standard size for your winter tires and wheels if possible. Check Tire Rack’s web site for lots of tire review information.

Assuming that you don’t have a special situation like a steep driveway, you’ll probably be fine with all weather radials. You probably don’t need studded tires. Those are for ice. Ice happens, but not all that often, and when it does, the best bet is don’t drive. However, you can’t just not drive in snow. There is too much of it. Believe it or not, places like Vermont where snow is a fact of life, plow the roads. If the Lancer has enough clearance for chains, you might want to buy a set, figure out how to install them some time when you are not knee deep in snow, and throw them in the trunk. You very likely won’t need them, but many drivers new to snow end up in the ditch once or twice while learning to drive on the stuff. (Also, in some lighting conditions, it can be very hard to tell where the ditch is when it is snowing).

While you are throwing stuff in the trunk, an old sweater, a jacket and an old blanket are not a bad idea.

By the way, many roads in rural Vermont are unpaved. They are pretty good for about ten months of the year. In the Spring, they thaw from the top down and turn into a morass of mud about 11:00 am on the second or third warm day of the year. Yes four wheel drive might help during mud season, but some of the worst bogs have been know to eat bulldozers.

Very few people “need” 4WD. My guess is four winter tires will get you just about anywhere you need to go in Vermont. The tires are what make the difference in traction, not how many wheels are driven.

Don’t you have snow in Utah?

I used studded tires in the winter exclusively. Lately, I’ve found the newer snow tires work nearly as well on ice and perhaps a little better compared to worn studs. As far as the awd is concerned, talk to the locals that will have the same driving habits as you will. Trust their advice whether they recommend awd or not. AWD has lots of advantages even when not used in slippery conditions, but you pay a price that may not make it worth it to you. Ask !
Have a safe trip.

Four good winter tires and good technique will serve you well.

On winter roads,
do everything much more slowly; including turning, starting, and stopping.
look and plan ahead. Anticipate the actions you’ll be making before you make them.
leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you.
expect there to be a slippery spot just around that upcoming corner. Slow down.
Do not do anything that will distract you from focusing on driving. I even turn the radio off in bad weather.

To prepare the car:
get the aforementioned winter tires on all fours.
when fall rolls around, replace your current wipers with rubber booted winter wipers. Metal wiper frames will ice up in a snowstorm and become useless, leaving you unable to see and in great danger.
Purge your windshield wash system of your summer mix and refill it with winter-mix windshield wash. You can leave this in all year around.
Be sure the car is well maintained and the maintenance up-to-date.
be sure you have windshield scrapers and roof brushes handy. Be aware that in neighboring NH and possibly in VT it’s illegal to drive with snow on the roof or the widows not cleared. It’s also dangerous.
Keep your gas tank at least 1/2 full. I’'ve been stuck for hours on an icy highway in a storm on a number of iccasions over the years, and you do not want to run out of gas.
Join an auto club. If you need assistance in a storm you won’t get it unless you’re a member of a club. All the service providers help the auto club members first, and they’ll be really really busy.

I also keep a “storm kit” in the car. That’s a change of clothing and toiletries. In a bad bizzard I pull into a hotel rather than drive any distance.

Welcome to New England.