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The debate in our house is whether winter tires would significantly improve winter handling. This is the 2nd winter with Michelin X All Season radials and the handling is satisfactory. However my younger son is of the opinion that winter (ice) tires would perform better. His analogy is
interesting - consider winter footwear. Winter boots have aggressive tread and no one would not consider walking on a snow or ice covered path using leather soled shoes. Does anyone have direct experience with winter tires (as in Nokian)?
Phil in Winnipeg

ps This evening I took our our '03 Passat wagon 1.8T 5sp out to a deserted corner of a large mall and did large turns while accelerating. ESP is amazing! Turn off the ESP and the front wheels were slipping like
crazy and I was heading for the snow banks. ESP on and I could both turn and accelerate.
 
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Blizzak Snow Tires!!

Snow tires definitely do make a difference. I think they run at lower PSI as well to give them better grip on the roads. However, you do lose gas mileage because of the increased traction and should switch out to all season or summer tires when you don't need that much traction.

BUT SNOW TIRES DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!

Just wanted to get my point across =)

step
 

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Gislaveds make Nokias look like racing slicks.
Gislaved Schmeeslaved :D

Nokians come in all stripes; if you want full-on winter snow/ice traction, try some studded Hakka 10's (maybe superceded by 1's now).

They're made in Finland, home of the greatest rally drivers (after Uncle Walter, that is...)
 

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It really depends what you do with the car. If you need to drive everyday in every condition then yes, a set of winter tires are a must. How about the Dunlops?

If you are like me and drive the car once or twice a week but it is not necessary to drive it all the time, get yourself a nice quality All Season. The Michelins that came with the car are not very good.
 

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All season are compromise and you do not want any compromise on safety.
Main diff between summer,A/S and winter tires is following:

Summer-made to handle best on clean dry roads and rain on temperatures up to -3/-5 C (only dry). Their compound is hard so they last longer on dry pavement and brake good, when temp is below 0 C they become even harder and start to lose traction and therefore braking ability with road,colder-worst.

A/S they try to have best of both worlds but in reality they performe worst than summer on nice weather and worst than winter tires on winter time.Their compound is softer (to match winter conditions) than summer but still harder (to match summer conditions) than winter tires. Have more agresive thread (deeper and more lamelas) to cope with winter, but not enough like winter tires and because of this thread they loose summer grip. This tire is good in areas with mild climate ALL OVER the year, rainy&wet summer with average temp 20/25 C and wimpy winter with litle to no snow and temps not lower than 5-7 C (Ireland,Spanish coast,Portugal, etc.).Their braking abillity both at summer and winter is worst than from spec tires. They are quickly "eaten" driven on summer 'couse they are soft.

Winter- they are made for normal to strong winter time with a lot of snow and steady -5 C temps and lower. Deep and agressive threads, very soft (to match low temp). Now you can buy winter tires with studs that are "carved in" tire so on dry-cold road you have good braking power and when you are on snowy and mixed (from salt,etc.) pavement you have better traction and braking than with regular winter tire.

I understood that you are in Canada, do not even think on A/S like option.
 

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I have been running Winter Master Plus snow tires made by Cooper (same as Hercules) since1998
These are inexpensive $80-90 but sure grip in snow. I have 205/65/15 on steel They are a
bit noisey on dry pavement.Your son is right,you need snows
 

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Gord said:
I have been running Winter Master Plus snow tires made by Cooper (same as Hercules) since1998
These are inexpensive $80-90 but sure grip in snow. I have 205/65/15 on steel They are a
bit noisey on dry pavement.Your son is right,you need snows
I wonder why you went with 205? The right sizing would have been 195/65-15. The wider tire would impede your grip more causing the tire to hydroplane on snow and wet.

According to a tire calculator, on these tires if your speedo says your are travelling 60, you are actually travelling 61.5 because of the larger diameter.

In any event, I have been debating either going with 15" or 16" tires for the winter and still have not decided between the two. Where did you get your tires?
 

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I have Semperit Sport Grips, which are about the cheapest snow there is at $68 for 195/65/15T. The improvement in the winter driving is incredible. They are rather stiff in the sidewall, which makes for very good dry handling, too.

Plus, winter tires on your stock rims give you an excuse to enjoy summer tires on new, bigger rims, which is quite possibly the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Kumho 712s on 17s for the summer. I just love it. Great handling and traction in all weather, afforded by my willingness to spend an hour twice a year changing the wheels out.
 

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The 205/65/15 were only used one winter on my Mercury Sable They have such an open aggresive tread I still have less rubber on the road .They seem fine.
 

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Winter tires vs all-seasons

Nenad and AJChenMPH are right on the money.

If you will be doing a lot of driving in snow/slush, then you will be impressed by what snow tires can do for you.

If you encounter a fair amount of ice, then the the ones optimized for ice (I prefer not to be on the roads when that happens). Again, they do amazing things.

When the roads are clean, however, these tires can't compete with good all-season tires. The ice tires in particular tend to provide very sloppy handling and longer braking distances. As happy as I am to have winter tires on when the roads are bad, I am just as happy when the summer tires go back on the car in the spring.

Even the best "performance" winter tires (Nokian WR, Dunlop Wintersport M2/3, Pirelli Snowsport 210/240, Pilot Alpin, Blizzak LM-22, etc.) won't give you the kind of handling that a high-performance all-season tire provides.

Both kinds of winter tires, but especially the ice-optimized varities, tend to disappear rather quickly when the temps rise, especially if you drive quickly. They also loose the majority of their effectiveness in the snow after about 1/2 of their tread wears away (also true for all-seasons). This makes them a fairly costly investment if you leave them on too long.

If you get a lot of bad weather, winter tires make sense. I mount mine on dedicated wheels (more convenient and cheaper in the long run). If you get only occasional bad weather (or the roads are cleared efficiently where you drive), the optimal solution might be to keep fairly new all-seasons on the car and a set of tire chains or cables in the trunk for emergencies.
 
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