I have a 2005 Toyota Matrix all wheel drive and find my new fair weather tires not the best in the snow. Great mileage in the sunny season but we have 6 months of winter here.I would like to put snow tires on it. Do I need to change rims also as the space between the tire and the wheelwell is quite narrow. What tires would you suggest. Thanks.
You are an ideal candidate for good winter tires. We live in a similar climate and have a full set of Michelin X-ICE winter tires on separate rims. Thes tires are good on glaring ice, packed snow, loose snow and wet pavement. We take the off in April, and store them on the rims till late fall.
Driving with these tires on slippery surfaces is a real revelation. You wonder why others have 4 wheel drive. My wife walks away from SUVs at slippery intersections when the light turns green.
Check tirerack.com out. You may be able to downsize your tires/rims and end up paying the same if not cheaper for the whole package vs simply changing out the tires on your existing rims.
In general downsizing is favorable for winter tires on both wallet and winter performance.
You can do it two ways.
You can have winter tires (the same size as your summer tires) mounted on your existing wheels. This is the least expensive option, but it requires you visit a tire shop twice a year to have the tires changed.
The other option is to have the winter tires mounted on plain steel wheels, and then you can change them yourself any time you want. This costs a bit more, but makes the change-over really simple.
I chose the separate wheel/winter tire option for my Subaru, and just switched them last week.
My experience has been that using winter tires is more important than the brand of winter tires you choose. I’ve had expensive winter tires and inexpensive winter tires, and, to be honest, I’ve never noticed any difference in performance.
I currently have Nokian Hakkapeliitta winter tires, which offer fantastic snow traction, but they are VERY noisy on dry roads, which is more common than snow-covered roads. I bought these tires used, so I didn’t pay full price. When they wear out I will probably replace them with inexpensive Firestone Winterforce tires.
We put a set of the Winterforce tires on my daughter’s car last year, and they were just as quiet as her all-season tires, but worked very well in snow. Besides, they are probably half the cost of Nokians, or any of the other expensive brands.
Buy and install winter tires. It’s the best thing you can do for winter driving, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to get good traction.
Let me second doc’s recommendation of the Michelin X-Ice tire. It is fantastic on snow and ice, handles well and is relatively quiet on dry roads, and has superior tread life to its competition.
And, to echo what andrew said, a slightly narrower winter tire will actually give better traction than the standard width. Consult your Owner’s Manual to see if the car’s manufacturer specifies an alternate, narrower tire size. If you can go one size narrower, you will likely pay a bit less for the tires, as well as having better winter traction than you would with the same tire in the standard (wider) width.
I have to say much the same things. Winter tyres are the way to go. There really are no all season tyres they are really three season tyres.
I would change rims for two reasons. First it makes changing over easier, second winter is a time when damage to rims is common and a set of steel rims are usually cheaper and stronger than OEM alloys. Add some cheap plastic wheel covers and they even look good.
Normally it is best to get a tyre that is less wide (thinner tread) so you get a little better traction in deeper snow.