Hi, I have just moved to Boston from the sunny West Coast. Just busted a tire. I am wondering whether I will need winter tires here or all-season tires be fine?
If you’re only going to be driving around Boston you need only have all season tires with good tread on them. If you plan to visit western Mass or other NE states during the winter, or especially of you plan to ski, you’ll defeintely need winter tires. Western Mass gets treacherous in the winter, especially through the mountains, as does western NH and areas of Maine and VT.
You’ll need some other things however.
Purge you window wash system and refill with “winter mix”. Your current stuff will freeze in the winter.
Replace your wiper blades with rubber-booted winter blades. Summer blades will ice up in the winter and you’ll totally lose your abaility to see.
Make sure your cooling system has fresh coolant in the porper mix.
Make sure your battery is good. If it’s over 5 years old, consider replacing it.
Make sure the car is otherwise up-to -date on maintenance, including the serpentine belt.
Make sure your heater and defrosters are in working order.
Most important: do everything much slower in bad weather and leave lots of room between you and everyone around you. Do not drive on bad roads the way you do on good roads.
And drive very carefully until you learn the roads. For years Boston and Massachusetts were dumping all their road money into the “big dig” ($14B total) while the rest of the massachusetts roadways crumbled. Broken chassis parts, bent rims, and popped tires due to huge potholes are common.
Western MA can be real treacherous…especially if you’re off the Mass Pike…Rt 2 in the middle of a snow storm can be very treacherous…
The good news is that there’s a Motel 6 on RT2 just before you get to Rt 91 in South Deerfield. And, as a bonus, the exotic dancers from the “Castaways” club stay there…sorry, couldn’t resist.
If the roads get too bad the absolute smartest thing to do is get a motel room. Yuo cannot get on a crash of you’re safely in a hotel room. So, add to my earlier list “an overnight bag”.
If you the best of all world take a look at the Nokian WR or Nokian WR G2. They are one of the few all-seasons rated also as a winter tire too. They are perfect for Boston’s winter conditions and year round too. Nice tire just pricey and not discounted much.
I would not get full winter tires in Boston area.
Not to reiterate to much, if your staying within the 128 Belt basically metro Boston all of the winter you will do just fine with “all season tires.” I live just outside of 495 and drive a car with factory 17inch rims and commute 35 miles a day, so I invested in a set of steel wheels with snow tires and I haven’t regretted the purchase. It all matters on what type of vehicle as well, is it front wheel drive, rear wheel, all wheel?
Damned good advice.
Also give yourself an hour extra every snowy morning to warm up and clean off and dig out your car. The first thing you need to do in the morning is start the car and crank the heat so that the ice is melting off your windshield by the time you dig the car out.
I don’t think you can protect your dug out parking spot anymore by sticking lawn furniture and such out there anymore, but there is a kind of tribal law that if you dig the spot out it is yours. Ask your neighbors about the rules.
Get 4 good all seasons, then see how your area is taken care of this coming winter. Then you can decide if you’ll need winter tires, or even a new vehicle with more ground clearance to get around in all the snow that’s piled up.
If you do decide on winter tires, try to find some spare rims to mount the tires on separately. This way it’ll be easier to put them on and take them off when the time comes.
I was out that way once during a snow storm at the furniture outlets…Good thing we brought the Pathfinder…On the way back to NH…must have seen 10-20 cars/trucks off the road…
Remember you don't have experience driving in snow and ice. Take it easy. If possible at the first snow find a large parking lot with a big area without obstructions or cars and practice. Start slow and try the brakes and then turning. Fine your limits and the car's limits. Boston does have snow plows and most of the other drivers will have experience. So the roads should not be too bad. You should be driving slower and allowing more distance than the experienced drivers for the first few snows. Since how well the roads are cleared will vary, you may want to ask a few of your neighbors and co-workers about the need for winter tyres. If they say yes, then I would go with them.
I never owned a set of winter tires until I moved out to the Boston area and I spent most of my life in the cold Midwest. The issue here is not so much snow but ice. Black ice, slush that turns into ice, sleet, freezing rain this area is treacherous for that. But, if you only plan to buy one set of tires, buy the best all-seasons you can get. The winter tires will wear too fast in the warmer weather and in general. They get a bit squirrelly in warm weather too.
Definitely get winter tires, esp. since you are not used to winter driving. They even help within the Rt. 128 belt. I have never used them myself, because I’m too cheap, but I might change my policy this year. An accident can cost a lot more than some snow tires.
I live on a sort of steep hill that sometimes doesn’t get plowed for a half a day. I never have trouble getting up the hill, because I have front wheel drive and my car is pretty small. You don’t need a tank with 4 wheel drive anywhere in Eastern Massachusetts, but at the very least, you do need front-wheel drive.
BTW, if you live in the City of Boston (or Cambridge, Brookline, etc.) and not the suburbs, you don’t really need a car at all. Take the T and on occasion rent a ZipCar. Owning a car in Massachusetts is like owning a yacht in any other state.
Boston enjoys (!) a maritime climate so big snow-storms are rare…Sleet and freezing rain are more common…But when it does snow more than 4 or 5 inches, the cities traffic is gridlocked and tires make little difference, you are not going anywhere…
Busted a tire already?? Aren’t those cut granite curb-stones fun?? They can open a radial sidewall like they were butter…You don’t brush against the curbs in Massachusetts…
Some in Boston do fine with all season tires.
If you have a job that requires you to get to work no matter what the weather, then winter tires are helpful.
If you can let the car sit in the midst of a storm and venture out in a day or so after the roads are plowed all season tires could be fine.
It really depends on your particular situation.
I’ll echo that advice. So much has to do with whether you need to be able to drive at any time. If you have to get out to work before the streets are plowed you’ll definitely want winter tires.
Additionally, winter tires are much better on ice than all-seasons. Most of the comments here are about snow, but in reality ice, and stopping or turning, are likely to be of more concern.
Personally, I have a Mazda6, and live outside Boston, south of the Pike but inside 495. At times I could not make it up the slight hill to my house in the winter. A set of winter tires solved that.
The snow plowing in Boston & it’s neighbors can sometimes be absolutely terrible. All-season tires are, of course a compromise design to run summer and winter,I don’t think they are really good at anything, either in warm weather handling/braking or winter traction. Get a set of snow tires on separate rims and take some time to learn safe driving in N.E. winter conditions.