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I am desperately looking for advice aboutwhether I need snow tires or all weather tires. We moved to Oregon from SF California last year.( yup, we aren’t the most popular kids on the block) Last winter I kept my all season tires on, and my daughter drove up the mountain to the ski lodge and I just drove in town. She’s off to university and now I’m the ski taxi~
First off, I’m not the best driver and am not a seasoned snow driver~ soooooo which tires do I get~ I have looked at the past posts and I am still at a loss! The family buzz is ‘Mom’s gonna kill us driving up the mountain!’
 

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First question is, do you want to swap your tires twice yearly (on same rims or 2nd set)?

I'm about to purchase my wife some Falcons which are triple peak rated so I don't have to both with yearly swapping. However, for my WRX I swap them....but I also have a 2nd set of rims.
 

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I am desperately looking for advice aboutwhether I need snow tires or all weather tires. We moved to Oregon from SF California last year.( yup, we aren’t the most popular kids on the block) Last winter I kept my all season tires on, and my daughter drove up the mountain to the ski lodge and I just drove in town. She’s off to university and now I’m the ski taxi~
First off, I’m not the best driver and am not a seasoned snow driver~ soooooo which tires do I get~ I have looked at the past posts and I am still at a loss! The family buzz is ‘Mom’s gonna kill us driving up the mountain!’
Tire types involve trade offs when used in changing environments. Quite, traction in warm weather, traction in cold weather, traction on rought terrain, good mileage wear. traction on wet roads, inexpensive. You need to determine what environment takes precident and what you can afford to optimize your shoes for a certain time of year. Tire choice can make a large difference during more severe environments whether that is temperature or terrain. Tires are arguably your first line for safety. You just spent about $40,000 on a product that depreciates and carries you and your loved ones. Whatever choice you make, I would not skimp. I live in Denver.
 

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Canadian Rockies skiier here. Buy winter tires. Put them on a second set of rims if you want a bit cheaper switch over. (Have to be mounted and balanced each time if you use one set of rims). Viking contact and Bridgestone blizzaks have been great for me in 8 inches of snow. Just slow down. Tires allow you to start and stop well, not necessarily turn...
 

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Second set of wheels also needs a set of compatible TPMS, preferably cloned of the OEM set so the seasonal swap can avoid the programming dance, since the OP is in the US.
 
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I am desperately looking for advice aboutwhether I need snow tires or all weather tires. We moved to Oregon from SF California last year.( yup, we aren’t the most popular kids on the block) Last winter I kept my all season tires on, and my daughter drove up the mountain to the ski lodge and I just drove in town. She’s off to university and now I’m the ski taxi~
First off, I’m not the best driver and am not a seasoned snow driver~ soooooo which tires do I get~ I have looked at the past posts and I am still at a loss! The family buzz is ‘Mom’s gonna kill us driving up the mountain!’
2 items for you:

1. If you do buy snow tires, I suggest you look into Michelin X-ICE. They are very good overall, but the real surprise is that, to our amazement (my wife also have them on her Impreza) they are actually much quieter than the SUMMER tires that came stock with my Ascent.

2. I was told a few times that average daytime temperature in the winter should not get warmer than 7 centigrade, or 45 F to prevent tires from premature wearing down...

In doubt, I would get some for safety.


I am desperately looking for advice aboutwhether I need snow tires or all weather tires. We moved to Oregon from SF California last year.( yup, we aren’t the most popular kids on the block) Last winter I kept my all season tires on, and my daughter drove up the mountain to the ski lodge and I just drove in town. She’s off to university and now I’m the ski taxi~
First off, I’m not the best driver and am not a seasoned snow driver~ soooooo which tires do I get~ I have looked at the past posts and I am still at a loss! The family buzz is ‘Mom’s gonna kill us driving up the mountain!’
 

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We live in Canada around Toronto; so, we do not encounter trips up any real mountains, but some snowy commutes. We have a set of Winter tires for the Ascent (and other previous/current cars). I have not driven the Ascent, or any other AWD vehicle on snow without the winter tires, but my experience with other cars is that the winter tires make a huge difference when it comes to driving (star, stop, control) in snow.

The winter tires we have are the Michelin X-ice and we are happy with them. We do not have them on separate rims. We store the tires high in our garage and having them on rims would make it almost impossible to lift up to the tire-rack. They are bought and always swapped at CostCo, which makes the swapping not that expensive.

My advice is to invest on Winter tires. Yes, the Subaru will probably handle well on snow even without the winter tires, but you will be more confident ans safer with a set of winters.
 

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Overall, @pjt , I would encourage you to -NOT- think of "Winter Tires" as what will save you. I instead encourage you to first understand that driving on/in the frozen precipitation of winter is a lot about understanding that first and foremost your tires (whatever tires you choose) are seeing compromised conditions, and that the first and BEST thing that you can do is to simply slow down. :) Even the best winter tires can't defy physics.

In terms of whether or not to get winter tires?

It's not an easy decision - the least of which is the monetary investment involved. As @packout noted, this expenditure can rather easily be justified versus the cost of your vehicle and the insurance premium fallout from a collision, not to even mention the priceless nature of its occupants. But towards that end of the argument, one could also just remember that discretion is many times the better part of valor: you could simply elect not to drive under such conditions - including begging a ride from those who are better winter drivers or whose vehicles are better equipped for such.

That said, one of the first things to remember is that if you do get two sets of tires, you must logically make the connection that each set is optimized for certain conditions. The same reason for which you have purchased winter tires will ostensibly be the ones for which you'll want to remove them to re-mount your "3-seasons" or "summer" tires at the appropriate interval, in order to insure that the safety envelope stays where it's supposed to be during the warmer seasons. If you buy "Winter Tires" but leave them on in the warmer months, you've essentially decided that your safety in these other conditions aren't worth your effort - for as much as modern "Winter Tires" will help when there's frozen precipitation on the ground, their performance literally fades away and become considerably worse than that of even second-tier All Seasons, when it's warmer out and there's no snow or ice to be had. Towards this, realize that the word "safety" is the same as "performance" - you want the best performance in terms of braking (shortest distance), forward acceleration (vehicle gets up-to-speed quickly and without dramatics from the traction-control system), and lateral acceleration (for winter tires, these are often modified versions of the skidpad and slalom tests - the "ice rink/circle" and "moose avoidance" tests, respectively), where the vehicle tracks through turns and emergency maneuvers without dramatics.

With that in-mind, the first branch-point in your decision tree will be towards this concern: do you want to more greatly expand your winter capabilities but at the trouble of having to mount/dismount the winter set, as @mtmra70 mentioned? or are you comfortable enough with a slight compromise in terms of mobility in the worst of it, but so that you keep the convenience of keeping the same set of wheels/tires throughout? Here, ask yourself this: do you absolutely NEED mobility in the worst 25% of conditions, or can you perhaps simply not go out during such times (or seek alternate transportation), and are instead looking more to perhaps expand the safety envelope just a little bit, for the most common 75% of conditions?

If the latter is your choice, modern "All Weather" tires is where you should shop. The main concession here? It's that you'll be running these tires literally year-round. Given that a not-insignificant portion of winter (and other inclement) weather traction is simply about how much tread-depth you have, the fact that you'll be wearing that tread depth down all throughout the year will simply mean that at some point (that's likely sooner than if you'd had a second set of tires to run for just those few months), you'll notice a not insignificant decrease in your wintering capabilities.

Let's say you've instead elected to focus on the worst 25% of conditions. Here, your decision will again branch in a similar 25/75 manner - are you preparing for the absolute worst of what winter can possibly bring you, or are you more focused on your "typical" winter conditions?

Modern "Winter Tires" is most easily divided into three sub-categories:

  • Studdable Winters
  • "Studless Ice & Snow"
  • "Performance Winters"

Studdable Winters and "Studless Ice & Snow" tires occupy about the same strata in terms of their wintering capabilities (the temperatures at which you most often see icing conditions, along with road-legality as well as your own NVH [Noise/Vibration/Harshness] requirements makes for the decision between one or the other of these two most winterized tires), you can think of "Performance Winters" as an intermediate between "All Weathers" and the more winterized tires above it.

While Studdable Winters and "Studless Ice & Snow" tires are formidable in the worst conditions (this second 25% that I spoke of), they also do not tend to perform as well in clear-roads conditions (i.e. roadways which are without frozen precipitation). My favorite examples of the latter are that of routinely well-groomed major thoroughfares in metro cities and highways - if most of your wintering needs see this type of driving, with only occasional need for more intense snow/ice capabilities, "Performance Winters" will not only give you the best overall performance in such conditions, but will also typically offer both a better, more controlled ride as well as potentially even more tread longevity.

If you must worry about that worst possible 25% of winter conditions, "Studless Ice & Snow" tires are a wonder of modern engineering. Through a combination of physical characteristics (tread design - including micro-architecture) and compounding, these tires are actually designed to offer as much traction on icy surfaces as regular tires can generate on clear asphalt or concrete - and they can do so without studs. This lack of need for studs translates not only into increased NVH comfort for passengers (doing away with any droning that comes from studs at-speed), but also eases legality concerns (where studs are still allowed CONUS, it most often faces restrictions in terms of when it's allowed). Nevertheless, these tires typically work best only when it's exceptionally cold outside (translating to actual roadway temperatures well below freezing: approx. 9 deg. F., or -13 deg. C. is the inflection point at which we start to see modern "Studless Ice & Snows" come into their own; by 0 deg. F or -18 deg C., the ice surface has become so cold that studs can no longer effectively chip into it to enhance traction, and this is where "Studless Ice & Snows" really start to shine), and additionally, due to their soft compounding (studdable tires typically have harder compounding to allow for proper stud seating and retention), when the weather gets warmer, not only do they wear significantly faster, but their braking and lateral acceleration performance quickly suffers. If you face freezing conditions that are warmer (i.e. right around the freezing point) and/or must travel ungroomed roadways that have an icy substrate, a top-tier modern studded winter tire is still the only way to go (do NOT allow the "studded tires destroy roadways" red-herring argument to come into play here, as it has no bearing on the actual performance of the tires themselves; similarly, the old-think of "studded tires will kill you on wet roads" has been proven objectively false as of testing data from as far as a decade-and-a-half back, where we have consistently seen that modern premium studded/studdable tires have consistently outperformed premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires, in these measures).

If you're interested in a deeper dive into the subject, cross my screen-name with the keywords "winter tires," and limit the search to this sub-Forum. You should see some interesting results that can help you better understand the advantages as well as limitations of modern "Winter Tires" -

 

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I'd say a lot depends on not only how much you can/want to spend, but how often you think you'll be heading up to the mountain. We live in Portland, so we love going up to Mt Hood, but don't go often enough in winter for me to want to spend dollars on snow tires. But since we do like to go up there occasionally to go sledding (and we needed new tires anyway) I upgraded to a nice all weather (rather than all season)(we got the Goodyear Weatherreadys) so that we'd be able to handle the snow a lot better. The awesomeness of Subaru AWD plus good all weather tires can handle just about anything snow wise, but of course an official winter tire can handle snow even better, so if money allows and you'll be heading up there a lot, I would think that would be the way to go. There's also cable chains if anyone in your group is comfortable putting them on. Having those in the back just in case the conditions become absolutely ridiculous (which is occasionally the case up on Hood) would give you a bit more piece of mind.
 

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And just saw TsiWRX's post above, and they made a lot of good points too, especially regarding the driving itself being crucial, not just the tires. And good point about not wanting to use winter tires too much in non-winter conditions, which is something to consider as well. If the skiers in the household want to ski all season long, that's also a long time where you'll be driving on winter tires in town, so that is a compromise as well to factor in. I know in Portland, there are some who drive all winter long in town on their studded winter tires, and only go up to the mountain on occasion, so that's a heck of a lot of studded winter tires driving on bare pavement, which isn't ideal for several reasons. Lots of things to think of and factor in, so let us all know if you have follow up questions of any kind.
 

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I am desperately looking for advice aboutwhether I need snow tires or all weather tires. We moved to Oregon from SF California last year.( yup, we aren’t the most popular kids on the block) Last winter I kept my all season tires on, and my daughter drove up the mountain to the ski lodge and I just drove in town. She’s off to university and now I’m the ski taxi~
First off, I’m not the best driver and am not a seasoned snow driver~ soooooo which tires do I get~ I have looked at the past posts and I am still at a loss! The family buzz is ‘Mom’s gonna kill us driving up the mountain!’
My blizzaks last 2-3 seasons.
 

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My blizzaks last 2-3 seasons.
^ Mileage?

And by "lasts," is that down to their "winter platform," or is that down to 4/32? or less? ;)

The way I drive on my DM-V2s, at around 4K miles, I'm almost right at the winter platform, so it's close to burned-through the magical top-layer compounding. 235/65R-18, I tend to run at about 36 PSI all winter, and I usually put them on at first forecast of significant wintry precipitation, and they're off as soon as I don't see any forecast for the same (this last winter, IIRC, it was November to March?).

I'm kinda hard on tires. 😅 :p

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And to-add -

@pjt - When shopping for winter tires, have the retailer you choose be as specific as they can about which tire it is that you're buying.

Just having them say "Blizzaks," for example, is akin to going to Baskin Robbins and asking for "ice cream." You may not get the flavor you like....or even want. ;) - Towing in snow with 2020 Ascent Limited on stock... What you don't want to happen is to go to a vendor intending to get Blizzaks that are "Studless Ice & Snow," but wind up with Blizzaks that are actually "Performant Winters," or vice-versa.

And note that this isn't just something that's unique to the Blizzaks (which are under the Bridgestone marque) - many other makes do this, too.
 

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Having lived in both Texas and Alaska previously, I know it's often easier when things are in the "no-brainer" category. When you live somewhere with much more mixed conditions, that's when it gets a lot trickier to figure out what's best for your particular circumstances.
 

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Given that a not-insignificant portion of winter (and other inclement) weather traction is simply about how much tread-depth you have, the fact that you'll be wearing that tread depth down all throughout the year will simply mean that at some point (that's likely sooner than if you'd had a second set of tires to run for just those few months), you'll notice a not insignificant decrease in your wintering capabilities.
This is an important point, but also something that needs to be considered when choosing "All Weather" 3-peaks rated tires...the depth of the sipes. The best tires for winter conditions have full depth sipes. That's where many "All Season" tires fall flat...they are great in the beginning, but the sipes...which are what really give the traction in snow, etc....disappear at some point during the tire lifetime. It's not the wide and deep parts of the tread that do the snow thing...it's the narrow sipes, so the longer they hang out because they are deep (preferably full tread depth), the better the winter performance. Check tire specifications carefully...
 
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Second set of wheels also needs a set of compatible TPMS, preferably cloned of the OEM set so the seasonal swap can avoid the programming dance, since the OP is in the US.
do you really need them in the US though? I mean if you don't mind ignoring the TPMS light being on all winter, can't you just ignore it and be on your merry way?
 

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There's a lot for OP to digest here. A lot of good info but also might be a bit overwhelming. I won't dispute anything said but will give my opinion on the subject.

Easiest way to break it down IMO is ranking options from worst / cheapest to best / most expensive options.

Worst : Just keep the worn OEM tires on . You'll probably be fine if you go slow but definitely the least "safe" option.

Good option: replace the OEM tires with some high quality all season tires that have a good winter / snow / ice rating like the Cross Climate 2 or something. This will probably cost over $1000.

Better Option: Buy good snow tires and have them mounted to OEM rims. This will unfortunately mean swapping your summer / winter tires on the same OEM rims every season which will add a recurring cost and hassle. Snow tires will cost about $700-1000 initially and about $100 every time you swap tires.

Best (my opinion) option: Get snow tires on a second set of (ascent compatible) rims and swap the rims & tires every season. This will offer the same safety as the previous option but with a little added initial cost for the new rims, but will save the hassle and cost of swapping tires every season. This will cost in the $1300-2000 range depending on what setup you go with. You may also want to get TPMS on the new rims although I think that is technically optional.

I just did the last option myself, got some cooper evolution snow tires on rims from discounttiredirect. I will swap the rims myself every winter / spring as it's no problem for me in my garage.
 

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There's a lot for OP to digest here. A lot of good info but also might be a bit overwhelming. I won't dispute anything said but will give my opinion on the subject.

Easiest way to break it down IMO is ranking options from worst / cheapest to best / most expensive options.

Worst : Just keep the worn OEM tires on . You'll probably be fine if you go slow but definitely the least "safe" option.

Good option: replace the OEM tires with some high quality all season tires that have a good winter / snow / ice rating like the Cross Climate 2 or something. This will probably cost over $1000.

Better Option: Buy good snow tires and have them mounted to OEM rims. This will unfortunately mean swapping your summer / winter tires on the same OEM rims every season which will add a recurring cost and hassle. Snow tires will cost about $700-1000 initially and about $100 every time you swap tires.

Best (my opinion) option: Get snow tires on a second set of (ascent compatible) rims and swap the rims & tires every season. This will offer the same safety as the previous option but with a little added initial cost for the new rims, but will save the hassle and cost of swapping tires every season. This will cost in the $1300-2000 range depending on what setup you go with. You may also want to get TPMS on the new rims although I think that is technically optional.

I just did the last option myself, got some cooper evolution snow tires on rims from discounttiredirect. I will swap the rims myself every winter / spring as it's no problem for me in my garage.
Just to clarify, I think for the good option you meant to saw all weather than all season. (or maybe there should be 1 more category, with all weather being better than all season.
 

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Better/best should be merged. Second set of rims doesnt have anything to do with tire performance with all other aspects being equal. Pure convenience.
 

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I am desperately looking for advice aboutwhether I need snow tires or all weather tires. We moved to Oregon from SF California last year.( yup, we aren’t the most popular kids on the block) Last winter I kept my all season tires on, and my daughter drove up the mountain to the ski lodge and I just drove in town. She’s off to university and now I’m the ski taxi~
First off, I’m not the best driver and am not a seasoned snow driver~ soooooo which tires do I get~ I have looked at the past posts and I am still at a loss! The family buzz is ‘Mom’s gonna kill us driving up the mountain!’
And yes, we Oregonians despise those pesky Californians. :) (although my wife is from CA, and my older brother and his family are in SF) (I'm even worse, though, I'm originally from Texas...:rolleyes:)
 
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