Re: The Miata in the Snow

I was intrigued by the caller who complained her Miata was terrible in the snow, since I was in a similar situation. I’ve got a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (which comes with 255/75R17 BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires stock - great in deep snow and mud, but terrible on packed snow and ice due to its big, smooth tread blocks), and my wife has a 2012 Chevy Sonic (205/50R17). We’re in the Detroit area. We decided after last winter we wanted proper winter tires (good thing, since this season has been brutal so far).

Anyway, I did my research (I’m an engineer), and we decided to get complete wheel and tire sets for both vehicles, installed and balanced, from Sears (to avoid having to re-mount and re-balance the tires twice a year). I was going to bring my 5x8 enclosed trailer to haul away the old sets. I got the impression, when I placed my order and gave them the instructions, that the guy thought I was nuts - most people around here don’t bother buying winter tires, and those that do seem to have them mounted on the stock rims. But I have no doubt, despite the added upfront cost, that this was the way to go, and I think the guys gave the caller good advice.

Of course, if I’d been her, I wouldn’t be driving the Miata in the winter at all, due to the ground clearance and rusting issues - I’d have held onto the Subaru for that (unless it wasn’t in the budget to have two cars). Thoughts?

Freinds don’t let friends drive Miatas. Even with good winter tires, I doubt that car will handle very well in the snow. It is a very light rear wheel drive sports car. I’m sure they’re a lot of fun, but definitely not safe in anything but perfect weather/road conditions.

You made the right choice in getting extra wheels for your winter tires. Most people I know buy lighter/fancier wheels for their summer tires, and save the stock ones for their winter tires. Personally I just cruise junkyards until I find an extra set of factory steel wheels. I value performance over looks. I’m also very picky about where I buy tires, Sears and most other chains I avoid. Look for a place that will include a road force balance with the price of a tire.

When I went to Canada I was told it was the law to have snow tires. All season radials don’t cut it. Colder temps and less aggressive tread patterns make stopping and starting distances shorter with snow tires. Of course we mandate nothing in this country even if it means you and I would be safer. I know others will disagree with needing safety mandates, but people in this country are stupid. Watch jay leno man on the street and you would think our education system is a total failure.

Mandate NOTHING in the US?

Uh, hello…TPMS, ABS, airbags…warning stickers on everything…aren’t even able to get a gas can with a working vent cap…dead man switches on lawnmowers…I could go on ad nauseum.

(Now if you said the above W/R/T Mexico…)

Yeah, next time around I don’t think I’ll go with Sears - I’ll probably order exactly what I want on Tirerack and get it installed at a local shop. Didn’t know about the mandate in Canada, though I suppose that makes sense - my aunt in Toronto gets snow tires put on every year, and she knows nothing about cars. :slight_smile:

Speaking of mandates, I didn’t order the TPMS sensors for my new wheels (thought the Sears guy had included them, but he hadn’t), and they installed them without it. I figured that’d be illegal, but I’m not going to complain - I actually check my tires anyway. As for Leno’s bit, don’t you think they pick the stupidest 1% or so to be on the show? It wouldn’t be funny otherwise.

Using a second set of wheels is common among my family and friends. The cost of mounting and balancing each time adds up pretty quickly. Also, it’s good to avoid the wear and tear on the original wheels and both sets of tires from all the mounting and unmounting. Finally, it’s nice to be able to switch wheels yourself in the garage if you have an hour or so to spare.