Posted 16 November 2007 - 03:25 PM
Not sure if you already bought tires or not, but I just went through this same series of questions for myself.
I ended up buying snow tires off tirerack. I got Bridgestone's newest WS-60 which doesn't even have any reviews yet on their site. I agree, reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, but you really have to sift through the reviews and find someone who drives a vehicle like yours in conditions like yours. It's of little value to read a good/bad review from someone with a 2wd suburban when trying to compare to your subi or other vehicle.
I bought these tires because they are supposed to be even better than the WS-50's which have certainly proven themselves as a good snow tire. It's amazing to me how far snows have come in the last 10 years. I used to install tires about 10 years ago and snow tires used to look more like mud tires without any siping. The new snows all have tons of siping on them, great for picking up sand and gravel, getting stuck in the tread, and helping to provide the superior traction.
I was amazed that the WS-60's I put on my wife's car (a 2wd and not a subi) are actually quieter than the crappy all-seasons we pulled off the car. Granted, the old tires were well worn and in need of a balance, but the WS-60's are suprisingly quiet. We've put about a thousand miles on them in the passed week, ALL ON DRY PAVEMENT 20F to 50F temps and no problems. They ride and handle just fine. They are no where near as squishy as I would have expected them to be, based on the reviews of other snow tires on the internet. But you have to realize, a lot of these reviews came from people with sporty cars with lower profile tires, with people that drive very aggressively, and they are the ones that seem to be reporting that snow tires are squishy.
Oh, FYI, I'm sure any snow tire manufacturer is going to recommend you replace all 4 snow tires. This isn't just a plot to get you to buy more. It's actually for good reason. If you just buy 2 snow tires and put them on the front of a front or awd car, the front tires will have better grip and less tendancy to lock up. Meanwhile, the rear tires will have more tendancy to lock up. Ever have a vehicle with an out of adjustment rear brake positioning valve misadjusted, or have your rear brakes lock up on you? It puts the vehicle into a spin. All vehicles are designed so that the front brakes will lock up first. Why? The tires that lock up will actually go faster than the ones that didn't. If your rear tires lock up first, the back of your vehicle will end up trying to pass the front (putting you in a spin). If your front wheels lock up, then you just slide straight. So the moral is, you will want all 4 tires to grip the same.
How long will the WS-60's last? I don't know, but I'd buy them again in a heartbeat. I put them on the car last week during a brief snow storm, only to have the temps rise enough that the snow melted and the roads were merely wet. It's been dry all week, so I haven't even gotten to put these things to the test yet. I will end up getting a second set of tires to use for summer time, so in case these WS-60's wear out fast, I will only have to use them during the intended season. It's not feasible to swap tires back and forth every time the temp goes above or below 32F. These tires will stay on for 6 months, period. People religiously swap for the snow tires come fall. We never know when the snow is going to start. Missing out with snows in one storm can mean an accident, injury, or worse. It's not like a true snow tire is just going to plain fall off the wheel just because it gets warm out. A relative of mine leaves snow tires on all year round. They don't want to swap tires every six months and would rather just leave the snows on and get new tires when needed.
For what it's worth, a lot of the WS-50's seem to be on clearance because they are being phased out. I would have gone with them, but I was feeling bold. Plus, a sales manager that I was speaking with at Tirerack said the WS-60's would be going on his car too.
New York's average snow fall is similar to ours, about 80 inches per year, though I think your temps are a bit warmer. If you get roughly the same amount of snow we do, I'm sure you'd like the snows. Just because it only snows 3 times a month doesn't mean the roads are only bad 3 times or 3 days a month. Up here, it can take a week or two for roads to recover and get back to bare blacktop. Sometimes they take even longer to recover. It depends on how much salt/sand is spread, how fast it was plowed after or during the snowfall, how often they are driven, and even which way the road faces in relation to the sun.