CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Studded tires or Winter tires - AWD van - suggestion on best brands?

I drive a 2001 AWD Town & Country minivan. I currently have studded MasterCraft Glacier Grip tires which need replacing. Two of them are apparently slowly falling apart at the bead area - I have to put air in them every morning (usually down to 28-30psi from 36). They have most likely gone through 3 winters. We use studs because of some of the icy/slushy hills I have to navigate up to get home here in Western Mass.

I have prices to replace with same tire ($84/tire) from one shop & replace with General Altimax Arctic ($123/tire) from another shop.

My concern with replacing with same tire is having the same problem - I also have a suspicion I may be having the same problem with my regular tires.

But $40 a tire for four tires is a big difference - also the General’s have to be ordered - the MasterCraft are in stock.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I’d be more concerned it’s your rims that are corroded and causing the leaking, assuming you’ve checked that it’s not the valve stems.

sand the rims when the tires are off of them…
agreed that it is 95% likely due to corrosion, and not due to your tires.
go with the MasterCraft Tires. that is a reasonable price.

Thanks, right now it may be a combination.

I did see the tires off of the rim & the two I have the most problem with are definitely beginning to come apart, which may be aggravated by corrosion on the rims. I had problems last winter with the tires on the driver’s side & during the summer with the tires on the passenger side.

I have no idea if when the tires they put on the snows if they try to keep the rims in the same place as they were or if they get rotated inadvertently or on purpose.

The one good thing is we have an air compressor -

You don’t need studs on an AWD van equipped with good winter tires - should be nearly unstoppable. Agree with other posters that installers should check the rims for damage and also wire wheel rust ensure a good bead seal on whatever new tires you end up installing. Also, check out Tire Rack online for new winter tires. General Altimax tires for your van are $78 each there, and other good brands (including Continentals) are even less. I’ve had good luck with Tire Rack for years, and I’m running the same Altimax tires on my wife’s Saab right now in snow country of Northern Colorado; they are excellent. Good luck.

What exactly do you mean by “coming apart”? That sounds very unsafe.

Are you sure you drive on enough solid ice to justify studded tires? Are you aware that you’re sacrificing your braking distance and overall control in other conditions, especially on wet pavement? They’re also quite noisy, not to mention that they damage the roads. You might be better off with good winter tires such as the Bridgestone Blizzak or the Michelin X-Ice, which do very well on ice. There’s a lot of good information on this topic on Tire Rack’s web site.

The cheapest GOOD snow tire is the General Altimax. Inexpensive and rated well for both snow and ice, even with out studs. Not the best but one of the most cost effective IMO.

www.tirerack.com and
www.1010tires.com
both have good consumer feedback/rating sections. I’d recommend visiting these sites for references on tire performance.