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Snow tires

I drive a VW wagon and I need new snow tires. I live on a coastal road and have some obligations that may make it impossible to not go to work in snow. But more importantly, we get mostly slush and wet or icy roads. I read on coastal routes studded tires are desirable. Then I read an archived question from someone in Colorado that said no to studded snow tires. Would love to know which would suit me best.

Where do you live? Are studded tires even legal there? Many states forbid them because of road wear. I bet you’d be fine with a top-rated winter tire (no studs) like the Michelin x-ice.

+1 to Texases’ comment.

Tire technology has come a very long way in the past 10 years or so, and many brands of winter tires perform incredibly well on snow and on ice, even without the use of studs. Because these new-technology winter tires are effective on ice as well as on snow, the term “snow tire” is now obsolete.

Just don’t expect to see the heavily-lugged tread pattern of the old-technology snow tires. Modern winter tires have a finely-siped tread pattern, as well as a special rubber compound that stays flexible in low temperatures. The combination of this special rubber compound and those delicate sipes in the tread allow you to get traction on ice, as well as on snow.

As Texases mentioned, the Michelin X-Ice tire is the top-rated winter tire (there are a few different models of the X-Ice, but one of them should be available for your car) in terms of traction, but it also has superior tread life when compared to its competitors. No, these Michelin winter tires are not cheap, but they are superior to the competition in all ways–including tread life–so the extra cost really is worth it.

Just remember that these tires do not make you invincible, and you still need to drive more slowly on snow and ice than you normally do on a dry road, and that you need to leave a MUCH longer following distance between you and the car ahead.

No, these Michelin winter tires are not cheap, but they are superior to the competition in all ways

Hey VDC, you have stock in Michelin or something? :wink:
Not knocking your favorite brand as they are good tires but to say they are superior in every aspect is stretching the truth a bit. I prefer the Blizzaks myself. A quick summary from the Tire Rack site says this;

“While not formally measured, our team also conducted a subjective cornering exercise to simulate a slippery 90-degree corner. In this area the Blizzak WS70 negotiated the corner with the least amount of slip

"Objectively we found three tires to be fairly similar with an advantage in acceleration going to the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 and a small advantage in stopping distance for the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70. "

If you look at the summary charts, you will also see that the Blizzaks rate highest in terms of ride comfort.

These are three factors I weigh heavily in my selection of a winter tire.
There are pros and cons to both brands.
Everyone should research and choose the tires that best suits their needs and desires.

Bizzaks were also top ratedrecommended by CR, another good choice.

Thanks folks. Great to know. :slight_smile:

“Bizzaks were also top rated by CR, another good choice.”

Now, I’m going to disagree with you Texases!
The Blizzaks rated decently, but were still inferior to the X-Ice tires in several categories.

In CR’s latest test of winter tires (November, 2012 issue), they rated winter tires in the following order:

1–Michelin X-Ice Xi3
2–Michelin X-Ice Xi2

3–Hankook Winter Icept Evo
4–Pirelli Winter 210 Sottozero Serie II
5–Uniroyal Tiger Paw Ice & Snow II
6–Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
7–Nokian Hakkapelitta R
8–Goodyear UltraGrip Ice WRT
9–BF Goodrich Winter Slamom KSI
10-Continental ExtremeWinterContact
11-General Altimax Arctic
12-Hankook Winter I
13-Falken Espia EPZ
14-Dunlop Graspic DS-3
15-Yokohama IceGuard iG20
16-Firestone WinterForce

The Blizzaks rated lower than the Michelins in the following categories:
Ice Braking, Handling, Noise, and Rolling Resistance.

The Blizzaks were superior only in terms of Ride Comfort and Resistance to Hydroplaning.

And, I can tell you from personal experience that tread life with X-Ice tires is better than with Blizzaks. For my money, I would rather spend $10 or so more for the X-Ice tires, but you may feel differently.

You are correct, sir. I should have said ‘the Blizzaks are recommended’.

So obviously, they can’t both be right since they disagree fundamentally on several fronts. It comes down to who you believe has the most impartial view and comprehensive testing. Tire Rack has no vested interest in either brand, they sell both of them. CR?

Both tires tested highly by both CR and TR, both would be good choices.

“Tire Rack has no vested interest in either brand, they sell both of them.”

Well, if one tire manufacturer offers preferential pricing for a high volume dealer, and another tire manufacturer does not do this, then there certainly could be a vested interest in selling one brand as opposed to another. No, I have no evidence that this is the case, but automatically assuming that a retailer will be absolutely impartial might be a bad assumption to make.

What if Bridgestone offers “kickbacks” or other inducements to high-volume retailers and Michelin does not? Might that not make a difference in how a tire retailer might rate two tire models that were not that far apart in performance?

Both tires tested highly by both CR and TR, both would be good choices.

So does my local tire dealer. But what happens tire companies offer incentives to the local dealers to sell more of THEIR tire. This is very common. One month it may be with Michelin…the next month with GoodYear. And during those months the tire company has incentives to sell one tire over the other. They’ll make more profit AND get other perks too.

General Altimax in a recent Tire Rack test did very well on ice without studs and, it’s one of the lesser expensive tires, does well in snow and seems quiet on my 4Runner. Besides, cornering and braking on dry roads suffer enough that I wouldn’t have studs unless I needed ice traction daily in the winter. Unfortunately, I do, but if you don’t, i would get them without.

We have the Winter Force on my wife’s car. But that tire, needs studs for good ice traction. It is cheap, does other stuff well but is NOISY. A you can see, we buy by price and the tires are not well regarded. But, as you can also see in their actual test results, they still give excellent winter performance, are cheap but are noisier and need to be driven more sanely on dry pavement.

VDC, yes it’s fairly well known that incentives come and go as mfrs seek to reduce inventory. However, it would not make much sense to alter your test results on a frequent basis to support the sale tire of the month, would it?

The great thing about Tirerack and 1010Tires is that they have consumer feedback sections. Totally nonbiased.

Personally, I’ve never seen any evidence whatsoever that either site promotes one brand over the others. And there’s lots of reason not to. If they did that once, their credibility would be shot forever.

Did u just buy this car? Have u driven on this road before? Like last year? U make it sound like u have never driven in winter? Do they plow roads? Do u need a high clearance 4 wheel drive truck? Just buy any winter tires. It is not magic. They will not make ur car fly.

“it’s fairly well known that incentives come and go as mfrs seek to reduce inventory”

Maybe some of those incentives don’t disappear on certain tire models.
Neither of us knows for sure what the pricing and kickback policies might be, but to assume that a retailer will always be totally unbiased regarding the promotion of his products is an assumption that I am not willing to make.

The bottom line: You pays your money, and you takes your choice.
I choose Michelin.


As to the consumer feedback section of the tirerack site, my problem with it is that there is total contradiction in so many of those consumer reviews. Some people will swear that a particular tire model wore out evenly across its tread in only 20k miles–despite proper inflation and alignment–and others will tell you that they got 70k miles of wear from the same tire model. Some will tell you that a particular tire was the worst that they ever experienced on snow, and just as many will swear that it had traction like a caterpillar tractor. How do you sort out the contradictions?

One important thing to note (as someone who has never purchased Blizzaks). The special rubber compound on the Blizzaks does NOT go down very far. When Blizzaks hit about 50% wear you no longer have the phenomenal grip since you are now on a more standard rubber compound instead of the soft and sticky winter compound. My Michelin X-Ice tires and even my Goodyear Ultra-Grips have soft winter rubber all the way through the tread. This has yielded exceptional longevity (in terms of usability) for both. I am trying the General Altimax Arctics this year since I absolutely KILL tires with high mileage and they are quite a bit cheaper. If they are not to my liking I will go back to the X-Ice tires from Michelin. They are exceptional. Quiet and sure footed in dry and wet conditions with great grip and predictability in ice and snow. They last a long time so the price doesn’t sting quite as bad.