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First time Subie owner needs snow tire advice


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22 replies to this topic

#1 motorhead53

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Posted 11 December 2005 - 09:49 PM

I am trying to decide on snow tires for my '06 Outback wagon and can't decide whether to go studless or studded for driving in the N.W.
I'm in Portland where it can be icy or slushy , but want to travel to Bend etc. with drier snow. These tires would be mounted to separate wheels so as not to wear them (or roads) out when not needed.

My only other AWD or 4wd experiences were with a Cherokee and I used studded tires on separate wheels. Are the studless tires really any good on icy/packed snow?

#2 seattlelegacy

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 12:29 AM

Nokian Hakkapolitas (sic) are what I used to run, and they are the ************. I still have them in my garage, but haven't put them on my recently acquired legacy wagon because the thing doesn't need them. I imagine if I did put them on it, it would be more like a snomobile than a car.

#3 richierich

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 01:37 AM

I also live in Portland and don't think we get enough snow to run studded tires all winter long. Studs aren't great for roads and are not good for stopping in the rain. We get a lot of rain.

That being said, my ski wagon 98 Outback, I am running studded snow tires. I bought them with wheels for a good price, and I usually only drive it from my house in gresham to mt. hood. Otherwise I try and drive the BRAT.

My wife has a 00 GT Sedan, we are going to get some snow tires for it as soon as I get time to find some. We plan on taking it up to Spokane (like Bend) and go skiing in January, and go over to Idaho to see her parents so we need better than rain tires on it. I have WRX wheels to put them on, I am going to go studless on hers because 1) studs are bad for roads 2) she doesn't go to the mountain , 3) long drive to Spokane, don't want to hear studs 4) Great advancement in studless snow tires 4) Don't have to take them on and off when it is not snowing.

I am going to go with the Hakka or the Blizzak. Do a search for this topic and snow tires, and I think you will come up with the same conclusion. PM me if you find a good deal in Portland and I will do the same for you.

Richie

#4 motorhead53

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 09:25 PM

Thanks for the response guys. The 17" tires on the car do not seem very aggressive for "all season" so it makes me a little nervous to go over the mountain passes w/out snows or some other traction device. The manual says to go with 225-60-16 for snows and NO chains regardless.

I guess I need to go play and get some seat time in the snow to see what it really does! Know any snowy parking lots in PDX? :)

#5 crazymjb

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 11:23 PM

From what I understand they have some studless tires out now which will handle just about anything, especially in a subaru. If you are preparing for that "emergency" situation you could always carry these: http://www.spikes-spiders.com/

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
Can't vouch for them but it looks like a good idea, then again I didn't know they got a lot of snow in New Mexico(where they are based).

I have heard a lot of good thing about Bstone Blizzaks, which is what we will probably get later this winter for our FWD acura(though it does pretty well with the stock MXM4s and TCS on)

Edit: in retrospect thats a lot of plastic. But I will leave it up there in case you are intereseted.

#6 tailgatewagon

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 01:25 AM

im running Nokins q studless i wanted the RSI but Got the Q insted anyway there on my 94 SVX. this car is very low to the ground and dos not have but maybe half the clearance of the car your looking at. anyway.

i can push 1.5 feet of snow that is 3 weeks old. i also just took a 3000 mile trip with them only 300 was on snow and ice. and i only lost 1/32 of tread in 3000 miles of 75-85mph driving. . also when i was driving on the snow i felt comfortable at 80mph it was -26F out so that helped but they are awsome.....

way better then the blizzak and they last longer...

#7 Snowman

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 03:17 AM

I would go with studs, but that's personal preference. You'll have a lot more control if you get into a slide if you've got studs.


The most important thing to consider when buying snow tires is to get the narrowest ones you can buy that will fit your rims and your car. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but the increased ground pressure will give you much better traction, and a skinny tire goes through snow way easier than a wide tire.

#8 Ranger83

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 05:34 AM

I never thought the OBW needed dedicated snows, but after driving our Nokian RSI shod Honda Accord in snow last season, I said, "Gotta have em."

Because the 06 Subarus have TPMS, I had them mnounted on the OEM rims. A lot of people are buying 16" WRX rims on eBay etc as they can be had for $200-250 a set. The offset is off by a few mm, though.

Studded tires are great on ice, and noisy and slippery on dry or wet roads.....

In addition to the Nokians, Michelin X-Ice, Yokohama Ice Guard, and Dunlop D3's seem to be popular. The Hankook Icebear W300 is less expensive but hard to find, I'm told.

Posted Image

#9 kevinsUBARU

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 07:27 AM

I had to borrow my moms 03 Outback during our last snow storm. Yes, I felt confident driving normal highway speeds on snowpack, but when I had to pull into my driveway, I managed to get it stuck about 4 times. I finally got it up, and went and picked up my 01 Legacy L wagon since it's service was finished. I have 4 Winterforce snow tires that I got from www.tirerack.com . I had absolutley no problem with my car in the foot of snow.

any kind of snow tire > stock tires

#10 fishy

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 07:38 AM

I'm going to be the poor-boy here and suggest re-treaded winter tires. I'm running a set of no-name retreads on my subie and they're fantastic. Not to mention they're cheap! I think the full set only cost $340cad after tax/mounting/balancing. I've observed that retreads seem to be about 75% the price of other cheap snowtires.

#11 blitz

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 01:19 PM

Regarding the studded vs studless, the general wisdom is that studdable tires are relatively poor ice performers unless the studs are actually installed.

However with studs installed, they're untouchable. The tradeoff is that they get to get slippery on dry and wet pavement at highway speeds.

#12 crazymjb

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 02:44 PM

I wouldn't recomend retreads, in fact I think they are now ban some places.

#13 bulwnkl

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 06:02 PM

I like the studless tires because where I live (and used to live), the roads are only icy or snowy a fairly low percentage of the time, and they work much better on dry pavement.

I have some Nokian Hakkapeliita Qs (for sale if you want them) and I think they are the bomb. They're at least as good as Blizzaks, but unlike Blizzaks they don't wear off all the sticky rubber compound in a couple hundred miles of pavement.

#14 95 super subbie

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 06:53 PM

I would go with the cooper weather master S/T2, I work as a service mechanic at a garage this is our number snow tire studed or un studed that we sell, you can get them cheap

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#15 jts99OBW

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 07:25 PM

Here's a question: How will the viscous coupler or clutch pack deal with studded snows? If the tire circumference specs are as tight as I hear you would have to stud all four wheels and probably rotate every other week. I've had the OEM tire all 80K miles and never needed studs.

#16 later, Peter

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 07:52 PM

I am in Central Oregon... cold!
I use Michelin X-Ice (2nd year) & they work... we have ice & snow & rain.... oh my.
these tires stop my car, don't rip up the road, & I don't have to worry about what date the go on or come off....
Costco deals... like $360/4 mounted balanced lifetime balance & road hazard stuff.
Later,
Peter
My wife's OBW has studded snows... she'll only drive it, in bad weather, if it's an emergency may as well be prepared.

#17 Tiny Clark

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 12:36 PM

Ranger, those almost look like all seasons and not snow tires. Super subbie's look more like a dedicated snow tire, as the more space you have between the tread, the less tread you have, which results in more pounds per square inch in weight on the road surface. The more weight per square inch, the more friction.

#18 Urban Coyote

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 03:37 PM

I was debating studded vs non-studded tires and finally decided on the non-studded Nokian RSI's. I just put them on last night and took them for a drive today. So far so good....been going up and down my snow covered driveway without any major problems. On the highway they handle really well and are not noisy at all!

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#19 Ranger83

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Posted 17 December 2005 - 03:12 PM

Ranger, those almost look like all seasons and not snow tires. Super subbie's look more like a dedicated snow tire, as the more space you have between the tread, the less tread you have, which results in more pounds per square inch in weight on the road surface. The more weight per square inch, the more friction.

Glad they work for him. What are you using?

I'm going by personal experience on my own cars. I've never found snow to be as big a problem as ice, so Nokian and X-Ice are what I've purchased.

The latest CR winter tire test (FWIW, which is not much IMHO) found the Cooper to be a little better than the RSI on snow but not as good on ice.

The Nokian RSI is Nokian's replacement for the Kakka Q:

Nokian Tyres Hakkapelitta RSi Tire Test:

I recently had the opportunity to compare the Nokian Hakkapeliitta Q with the new Nokian RSI. The Q has been a great tire. We ran the Q on our Group N WRX at the Sno*Drift rally the last 4 years, winning our class 3 of those 4. I had heard that the new RSI was better than the Q but I was skeptical. The Q is a great tire and I thought it would be very difficult to make a better tire. So... we arranged a test!

The test car was a 2004 Subaru Forester base model with an automatic transmission. The tire size was 215/60/16 on 7 inch wide rims. The testing surface was a frozen lake with about 2 inches of snow cover. The course had very tight esses sections and high speed sweeping corners. In some corners on the course, previous cars had blown the snow clear and polished the ice. Basically, we had all the usual Sno*Drift conditions.

First, we ran the car with the Qs. They performed great as usual. You could exceed the grip the tire provided by throwing the car around or overcooking a corner. The Q is very predictable and reacquires grip when lost easily by reducing the control inputs in the car. The Qs are the same great tire I remembered. We ran three runs trying three driving styles, max attack, slow and steady and then the compromise between those two. The compromise style yielded the best time.

Next, we mounted the RSIs. Within 100 feet of the start line, I could feel the difference in the seat of my pants. The tire had more grip in all circumstances. The first run, we did the slow and steady method. It did not yield a faster time than the Q but was much more controllable. The second run was max attack. The car was even more predictable than on the Qs. Because of that, I pushed the pace even more. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm sent me far off course in one corner and the time clearly showed my mistake. Finally, we ran the compromise pace. After having less than 2 miles experience with the RSI, I was able to shave two seconds per mile off my best time with the Qs as timed from inside the car. The higher level of grip made the car much more stable. It was harder to get the tires to break traction and they came back much quicker. The biggest change was under braking. The RSIs made braking on snow covered ice feel like wet pavement in warm weather. There was enough grip that we actually got weight transfer to the front end and I had to counter steer to keep the rear end behind us.

Overall, I was very impressed with the new RSI. I will be running them at Sno*Drift and will recommend them to anyone that asks my opinion.

Mark Utecht
http://www.sno-drift...ian_tyr2005.htm



#20 Tiny Clark

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 07:01 AM

I'll have to check what I am running. They were on the car when I bought it in 2000 in Alaska. I used them for that winter, then pulled out the studs when I came over here to Germany in 2001. I've used them every winter for about 5 months at a whack, and they still have tons of tread left on them, maybe another 5 years worth.

BF Goodrich Winter Slalom, probably quit making them years ago.

They'll probably dry rot before the tread is worn out!!

#21 Ranger83

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 02:03 PM

Ranger, those almost look like all seasons and not snow tires. Super subbie's look more like a dedicated snow tire, as the more space you have between the tread, the less tread you have, which results in more pounds per square inch in weight on the road surface. The more weight per square inch, the more friction.


Out of curiousity I checked the gap between outer tread blocks on the RSI's; Nokian Hakka I; Michelin Pilot Alpin; Michelin X-Ice; and Blizzak WS-50. That's all I could find between the two office parking lots.

The gap on the Nokians was 11/32nd. The two Michelins and the Blizzaks were more like 8 or 9/32nds (I have digital calipers but they're at home and i wasn't that curious!

I even checked the M&S rated Michelin LTX tires on our trucks and the gap is smaller. So I guess looks are deceiving. I've never seen any of those Coopers although they seem to have a good reputation.

Of the 8 cars I checked, 4 had Blizzaks, 2 had Nokians, and 2 had Michelins. Decidedly unscientific but that's what was handy!

#22 mystro

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 09:16 PM

I was checking for the highest rated winter performance tires at Tirerack..the Dunlop Sport M3 showed up as the highest reviewer rated tires,amazing snow traction numbers and dry highway performance but too soft for year-around use unless your rich..it looks like a new catigory for winter tires (winter performance)..the new compounds sure make a difference.

#23 Ranger83

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 09:01 AM

I was checking for the highest rated winter performance tires at Tirerack..the Dunlop Sport M3 showed up as the highest reviewer rated tires,amazing snow traction numbers and dry highway performance but too soft for year-around use unless your rich..it looks like a new catigory for winter tires (winter performance)..the new compounds sure make a difference.


The Nokian WR is an All-Season tire with the Mountain M&S rating. It's getting very popular for year-round use in the snowbelt.




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