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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A bit of research I came across. Your choice of tires really depend on what type of driving you engage in.

"But arguably the most important design distinction between snow-rated all-terrain tires and true winter tires is something you can’t actually see at all: The tire tread compounds are fundamentally different. " I offer this research not to endorse the specific snow tire that is clearly represented in the article but rather to explore the difference in general between the two tire categories.

 

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Interestingly, Car & Driver did a tire review, and apparently used an Ascent to test on:


A bit of research I came across. Your choice of tires really depend on what type of driving you engage in.

"But arguably the most important design distinction between snow-rated all-terrain tires and true winter tires is something you can’t actually see at all: The tire tread compounds are fundamentally different. " I offer this research not to endorse the specific snow tire that is clearly represented in the article but rather to explore the difference in general between the two tire categories.

Like packout said, tire compound is one of the most important things.

There's an interesting overlap nowadays in winter tires. While my Kumho Road Venture AT51's lack as much siping (which is supposedly a good thing, or a mixed bag, depending on who you ask), they are made of a compound designed to stay soft in the cold of winter and the lug design helps with lateral shifts and hydroplaning.

The tire was manufactured with a dual silica compound, which was molded into a wide footprint with symmetric tread design. The Road Venture AT51’s compound maintains its flexibility even in colder temperatures, while the tread design, with the optimal siping detail, firmly grips the road and terrain surface in dry, wet and winter weather. The tire’s self-cleaning nature keeps a clean footprint and prevents snow from being packing into the tread grooves. The tire received the three mountain peak and snowflake symbol for its capability of performing well in severe winter weather.


Does that mean they're the best? Hardly. But they crush every non-snow tire I've ever driven on, whether in snow or on ice.

There's another article somewhere that goes into the overlap between winter/"winter rated" tires and snow tires. and compares a bunch of each, finding that some of the winter rated all terrains performed as well as a couple of the snow tires, BUT, I think that's partially because of manufacturers integrating winter tire features into their ATs and some snow tires simply aren't the best. Picking one of the leaders (eg: the Blizzaks) gets you a clear win against everything else out there.


As for the ability to stud a snow tire, 6 states require rubber studs, and 12 states forbid them. In the 38 states that permit them, in various of them, they're forbidden in either certain jurisdictions or on certain roads. So, people should always be aware of their state's and locality's laws.

Here's a great FAQ:

Here's a few great choices of snow tires:

In order, for very cold and/or icy climates, especially with steep declines, I'd pick:
  1. Snow tires (studded)
  2. Snow tires (studless)
  3. Winter tires/Winter compound 3 peak M+S all terrains
  4. All weathers
  5. Regular M+S all terrains
  6. All Seasons
For people in crazy ice and snow places that stay below zero for long periods, I'd grab a set of Blizzaks and be happy every winter. Seriously, grab some Blizzaks:

1567


For my needs, my Kumhos handle Upstate NY's blizzards, and the occasional foray onto frozen lakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interestingly, Car & Driver did a tire review, and apparently used an Ascent to test on:




Like packout said, tire compound is one of the most important things.

There's an interesting overlap nowadays in winter tires. While my Kumho Road Venture AT51's lack as much siping (which is supposedly a good thing, or a mixed bag, depending on who you ask), they are made of a compound designed to stay soft in the cold of winter and the lug design helps with lateral shifts and hydroplaning.





Does that mean they're the best? Hardly. But they crush every non-snow tire I've ever driven on, whether in snow or on ice.

There's another article somewhere that goes into the overlap between winter/"winter rated" tires and snow tires. and compares a bunch of each, finding that some of the winter rated all terrains performed as well as a couple of the snow tires, BUT, I think that's partially because of manufacturers integrating winter tire features into their ATs and some snow tires simply aren't the best. Picking one of the leaders (eg: the Blizzaks) gets you a clear win against everything else out there.


As for the ability to stud a snow tire, 6 states require rubber studs, and 12 states forbid them. In the 38 states that permit them, in various of them, they're forbidden in either certain jurisdictions or on certain roads. So, people should always be aware of their state's and locality's laws.

Here's a great FAQ:

Here's a few great choices of snow tires:

In order, for very cold and/or icy climates, especially with steep declines, I'd pick:
  1. Snow tires (studded)
  2. Snow tires (studless)
  3. Winter tires/Winter compound 3 peak M+S all terrains
  4. All weathers
  5. Regular M+S all terrains
  6. All Seasons
For people in crazy ice and snow places that stay below zero for long periods, I'd grab a set of Blizzaks and be happy every winter. Seriously, grab some Blizzaks:

View attachment 1567

For my needs, my Kumhos handle Upstate NY's blizzards, and the occasional foray onto frozen lakes.



I'm thinking we will purchase the DM-V2 for both the Ascent and an Impreza. We should be able to work a great deal purchasing 8 tires at once.

I wonder if Bridgestone will offer a discount since my son with the Impreza will be participating in their winter driving class in Steamboat.
 

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Ooops, sorry, I missed that. I did just check the Blizzak rebates, and it seems that last year, they ran them from Nov 1st through December, so, maybe they will do so again this year.



 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
the DM-V2 are truck rated for the load rating which for the Ascent in most instances would not matter. I learned through Discount Tire that the WS-80 and WS 90 do not fit the 20" tire Ascent so we would be left to go with the DM-V2. The difference between the 90 and 80 has to do with a bit more directional tread on the 90 which improve handling. The 80 will be discontinued which is a factor to consider (availability and pricing).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ooops, sorry, I missed that. I did just check the Blizzak rebates, and it seems that last year, they ran them from Nov 1st through December, so, maybe they will do so again this year.
I expect we would make the purchase sometime in October so I suspect Bridgestone will have the new rebates ready to go (typically $70 for a set of four). I will work with Discount Tire to have in writing that they will remount the tires for free on both vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For decades I have dealt with Discount Tire for their pricing and convenience. Tire Rack of course is an option but I wonder if there is any real savings given the fact that you need to have them mounted and balanced separately and then deal with a different road hazzard warranty (if that is ordered through them - two years free with Tire Rack). Has anyone had comparable real life experience with both vendors and offer insight? Discount Tire will match any price from another vendor so I would expect they would remain competitive.
 

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I'm a huge fan of winter tires as some of you probably know. ?

Just something to consider....
you might want to consider going down to a dedicated set of 18-inch wheels with winter tires on them, I was able to get an 18" winter wheel package for less than it would have cost me just to mount 20" winter tires on the factory rims, and it saves me the hassle of having someone potentially nick/ damage the rims potentially twice a year when they swap the tires off the factory wheels.

Plus there is a much larger selection of winter tires in 18 inch diameter than there is in 20.

Town Fair would match any price I found elsewhere, and they do the seasonal swap at no charge (since I bought the set through them).
 

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Special winter tires and summer tires. Swapping them around as the seasons change. It is simpler in Houston. If it looks like snow and ice we just simply declare an emergency and shut down all the roads and tell everyone to shelter in place. Road crews will put out gravel or sand on the overpasses in case you didn’t hear all the warning on the radio, TV, and social media.
 

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Okay.....so in all of this I didn't see the best "All Season" or "Winter rated" recommendation. I don't want to swap them out every year and am concerned about wet roads/interstates also. One of the links above discussed the Winter Rated tire a lot, but never mentioned names/recommendations.
 

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I've said this before in other threads...

I went with the Blizzak DM-V2 in the 245/50-20 size, "permanently" mounted to the factory 20" rims. They were purchased at Costco during a special rebate period with penny installation. This is my "ski" setup and were only used for all of 1525 miles last season. The grip/handling is amazing. I put them on the vehicle as needed, myself. Sometimes they go on and off the car the same day.

My wheel/tire setup for the rest of the year is aftermarket 18 wheels with Continental Terrain Contacts. These tires are NOT 3PMSF rated, but could probably do the job pretty well for where I go. I don't mind the switching as needed. It is kinda like those rare days when you need a formal pair of shoes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Okay.....so in all of this I didn't see the best "All Season" or "Winter rated" recommendation. I don't want to swap them out every year and am concerned about wet roads/interstates also. One of the links above discussed the Winter Rated tire a lot, but never mentioned names/recommendations.
note that in cold weather (below 40 degrees), a winter tire will perform substantially better than an all season or all terrain due to the rubber compound formulation. This is true regardless of whether there is any snow or ice on the ground. My postings above refer to the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 which is a studless Winter. This tire is their latest Blizzak rated for our size SUV and it is supposed to last an extra year than the previous versions. That performance difference will include general handling, traction and stopping distance.
 

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Okay.....so in all of this I didn't see the best "All Season" or "Winter rated" recommendation. I don't want to swap them out every year and am concerned about wet roads/interstates also. One of the links above discussed the Winter Rated tire a lot, but never mentioned names/recommendations.
note that in cold weather (below 40 degrees), a winter tire will perform substantially better than an all season or all terrain due to the rubber compound formulation. This is true regardless of whether there is any snow or ice on the ground. My postings above refer to the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 which is a studless Winter. This tire is their latest Blizzak rated for our size SUV and it is supposed to last an extra year than the previous versions. That performance difference will include general handling, traction and stopping distance.
This is a little bit of a harder play, I feel, kathytn -

While it is absolutely true that as temperatures plunge towards freezing that the specialized compounds in modern winter tires start to essentially "enhance" grip at a faster rate than their non-winterized counterparts "lose" grip (this is not really the case on either side of the equation, but it's an easy way to visualize the scenario), the actual question of "safety" is much harder to dissect.

While here in North-America we've been bombarded with the "45-degrees-and-switch" tag-line in advertisements.

But where's the actual proof?

And therein lies the issue. ;)

From as far back as 2005 and 2008, we've seen reports from Russian enthusiast media such as Auto Review (https://www.zr.ru/ - the original link was www.zr.ru/a/16286 , but that's now lost) with tests that examined pavement temperature effects on braking for summer tires, all-season tires, and winter tire (1), where the conclusion was that there's no need to rush the change in the fall/winter, and no need to delay the change in the spring - provided that there's no wintry precipitation on the ground, in spite of rather cold temperatures. Similarly, we've seen comparison testing from North-American enthusiast media in the same time-period (https://www.caranddriver.com/review...87926/2009-winter-tire-test-comparison-tests/) where, at a rather cold 23 deg. F., on both a wet-only surface as well as a dry one, the "All Season" MXM4 required 140 ft. to come to a stop from 60 MPH, versus the "Studless Ice & Snow" Xi2 requiring 174 ft. to achieve the same (I'll cite this data again below to put it into context, so bear with me a bit, here :)). And once more, similar conclusions were arrived at by TyreReview.UK in 2014 (http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2014-All-Season-Tyre-Test.htm).

To say that winter tires are "safer" for wintry conditions is definitely correct - the performance envelope in wintry conditions is simply considerably larger for winter tires.

However, that same margin of safety is decreased when it comes to clear, cold, wet or dry roadways - absent of frozen precipitation. This is, so far to-date, in as far as I am aware (and please, if anyone knows otherwise, I'd like to know, too! I'm always hungry for more, and more up-to-date, data), an undeniable compromise which we've seen in quantified testing in the same way that we've seen the quantified data also conclusively point to the undeniable superiority of winter tires in wintry conditions, with snow and ice on the roadway.

Neither is debatable if one is to use quantified data to judge the issue.

The absolute truth of the matter is that the individual driver must decide for him/herself what they must prepare for: the worst 1/3 of possible conditions or the most typical/average 2/3 of conditions. That is anecessary compromise. How many of us look out of our windows during the winter and see only hardpack and ice on the ground? Or are the days more simply cold and rainy/dry?

From what current data suggests, the following generalization can be made:

"All Season" <-> "All Weather" <-> "Performance Winter" <-> "Studless Ice & Snow" and modern premium studded winter

clear dry/wet <--------------------------------------------------------------------------------> wintry frozen precipitation

  • The left side of each favors clear conditions (cold roadways, wet or dry, free of wintry precipitation)
  • The right side of each favors wintry conditions where frozen precipitation is present on roadways.
How one decides to approach that compromise will necessarily mean - given today's tire technology - a bias and compromise in the performance (read: safety) envelope.

Logic is logic. It doesn't just go one way. Winter tires are undeniably "safer" in wintry conditions as compared to "All Season" tires; their performance envelope is simply considerably larger when there's wintry precipitation on the roadways. But when the roadways are clear, that favor shifts, and it can just as easily and logically be argued that "All Season" tires will keep you "safer."

You've stuck with me this far (TL:DNR ?), so let me paint a concrete scenario:

A driver equips his vehicle with an excellent set of modern "Studdless Ice & Snow" tires for the winter, in preparation for his area's probable two to three bigger/worse winter storms. He views this purchase as an investment, one that can well save his insurance deductible over the course of the lifespan of his tires (the way he drives, for about 4 seasons, +/- three winters, total). His area, however, rarely gets such storms, and most of the time, he spends his time on well-maintained highways and streets that are simply wet. Occasion arises that he needs to panic-stop - full-tilt ABS - one night on his way home from work as the driver in front reacted to an incident: his awesome-for-the-winter "Studless Ice & Snow" can't make the best of such a circumstance and he winds up lightly rear-ending the stopped vehicle in front of him - braking distance that he knows should have been more than sufficient to have stopped his vehicle if he had his "usual" tires on.

Not a likely scenario?

Hark back to the 2009 C&D data above: at a rather cold 23 deg. F., on a wet-only surface, the "All Season" MXM4 required 140 ft. to come to a stop from 60 MPH. In those same conditions, the "Studless Ice & Snow" Xi2 required 174 ft. to achieve the same.

Sure, the same data definitely says that the Xi2s would have saved this driver's bacon had the same scenario played out on snow-covered roads - but as many of us can well see when we look out the window, "winter" isn't just all ice and snow.

Tires are a compromise, and we need to understand where that compromise comes in. Winter tires are not a cure-all to everyone's winter travel woes. There are no right or wrong choices - only choices that better or worse fits the requirements and desires of the individual driver.

The differences do not need to be drastic in order for them to be valid - by going the "safety" route, we are necessarily examining the unlikely scenario where the performance capabilities of the tires are going to be pushed towards their 10/10th or even beyond, toward failure. It's there that the differences of even a few feet become magnified by the real-world implication of insurance deductibles and premium costs and the hassles of an collision.

Living where I do, on the cusp between the primary and secondary snow-belts here in NE-Ohio - given our typical commute distance/hours - really, a "Performance Winter" or even an "All Weather" tire is really all that's truly necessary for the winter months. However, given what my wife and I do for a living - we can't really call in a sick day, and when others do, the need for us to show up actually becomes even more mportant - our vehicles are shod with "Studless Ice & Snow" winters (previous to this vehicle, I ran studded winters: our lifestyle changes for this vehicle pretty much demanded that I not have studs anymore).

Can someone living in a more temperate area benefit from winter tires? Certainly for those few times in the winter that they experience snow, ice, sleet and slush. However, they must realize that for the majority of days of their winter - days when they do not see wintry frozen precipitation on their roadways - they're actually going to be compromising wet and clear-roads performance, and realize that performance and safety are synonymous in this context.

It's logical to say that a tire that meets the demands of the worst weather conditions will keep you safer under such conditions.

However, if we say that we are preparing for the worst quarter of the possibilities, we must then also concede that we are compromising on the most common three-quarters of conditions.

Certainly, when the weather is bad, accidents happen.

But accidents are by definition unexpected - and if so, then can we, in good faith, say that we can avoid accidents by simply driving more carefully on our weather-compromised tire in that 75% of conditions for which our worst-case-scenario tires are not optimized for? And if one is inclined to answer "yes, it's reasonable to be more careful in clear conditions on winter tires," then could one not just as logically argue that one would be just as well off being commensurately "more careful" with "All-Season" tires in "wintry" conditions?

Logic doesn't just flow one way: we must realize that there is always a compromise.

At the insistence of logic, the only truly reasonable solution rests not in what anyone else chooses to shod their vehicles with. Rather, it is up to you - your personal needs and wants.

If you need to go out into that snowstorm because you're a first-responder or your occupation (or even hobby) otherwise requires it, then yes, it would make absolute sense to prepare for the worst.

But if you can telecommute or take public transportation when the white stuff is just "coming down" outside - or even hitch a ride with your buddy who has a monster of a winter setup for her vehicle or if you have another vehicle in the household that's specifically set up for winter-weather use - then perhaps it actually makes more sense for you to prepare for the more common scenarios that you'd face in your daily driver, rather than compromise "safety" in such conditions for the "safety" that you'll only rarely, if ever, need to call upon.

It's really about understanding one's unique needs and wants and how that plays into the actual weather conditions likely to be experienced. :)

------

Counterpoint:

A further complication that we have to keep in mind with the "switch point" between your "three-seasons" and your "winter" setup is just how fast the weather can swing in your area, and how readily you can respond to this change.

If you're able to haul out your winter setup and mount them on your vehicle at the drop of a hat, then yes, waiting until that first winter storm is right about on-you to change is completely viable.

But if you need to take your winter tires (un-mounted) into your local tire-shop to get them mounted on your existing wheels (because they're your only set) or if you're physically unable to do so or lack the equipment/space to do so and must rely on the kindness of a friend or relative, then you may even want to change to your seasonal setup somewhat earlier, realizing that late-fall is typically the busiest time for brick-and-mortar tire shops in cooler regions as they strive to accommodate a near-endless stream of customers who are either looking to purchase new tires so that they will be able to face the coming winter weather - or are facing the same needs as you.

We we start seeing temperatures around 40-45 deg. F., for those of us who live in cooler areas, we know from experience that the season really is turning. Here in NE-Ohio, at those temperatures, we can see swings up to 60 one day, and well below freezing the next.

Sure, the swing upwards causes a compromise in terms of safety (above) and tire-wear - but I think it's very reasonable to argue that a swing the other direction, with colder temperatures and some frozen precipitation on the roadway may be more cause for concern.

------

Oh, and in terms of an actual recommendation, kathytn?

Don't worry too much about splitting hairs with this review versus that review, this test versus that. Just go with one of the top-tier ranked tires in the genre that you're looking at, and know that "the best" test results is really just for those of us who love to bench-race.

In all honesty, if you started looking at all the varying tests and comparos out there, you'll start to notice that while one or another couple of tires are always at the top, their absolute ranking often varies by a spot or two. Realistically, this is due to minute differences in testing. In the real world, with any of us behind the wheel, these differences fade to nil.

Buy "one of the best," and rest assured that you'll have made an excellent investment.
 

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This is a little bit of a harder play, I feel, kathytn -

While it is absolutely true that as temperatures plunge towards freezing that the specialized compounds in modern winter tires start to essentially "enhance" grip at a faster rate than their non-winterized counterparts "lose" grip (this is not really the case on either side of the equation, but it's an easy way to visualize the scenario), the actual question of "safety" is much harder to dissect.

While here in North-America we've been bombarded with the "45-degrees-and-switch" tag-line in advertisements.

But where's the actual proof?

And therein lies the issue. ;)

From as far back as 2005 and 2008, we've seen reports from Russian enthusiast media such as Auto Review (https://www.zr.ru/ - the original link was www.zr.ru/a/16286 , but that's now lost) with tests that examined pavement temperature effects on braking for summer tires, all-season tires, and winter tire (1), where the conclusion was that there's no need to rush the change in the fall/winter, and no need to delay the change in the spring - provided that there's no wintry precipitation on the ground, in spite of rather cold temperatures. Similarly, we've seen comparison testing from North-American enthusiast media in the same time-period (https://www.caranddriver.com/review...87926/2009-winter-tire-test-comparison-tests/) where, at a rather cold 23 deg. F., on both a wet-only surface as well as a dry one, the "All Season" MXM4 required 140 ft. to come to a stop from 60 MPH, versus the "Studless Ice & Snow" Xi2 requiring 174 ft. to achieve the same (I'll cite this data again below to put it into context, so bear with me a bit, here :)). And once more, similar conclusions were arrived at by TyreReview.UK in 2014 (http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2014-All-Season-Tyre-Test.htm).

To say that winter tires are "safer" for wintry conditions is definitely correct - the performance envelope in wintry conditions is simply considerably larger for winter tires.

However, that same margin of safety is decreased when it comes to clear, cold, wet or dry roadways - absent of frozen precipitation. This is, so far to-date, in as far as I am aware (and please, if anyone knows otherwise, I'd like to know, too! I'm always hungry for more, and more up-to-date, data), an undeniable compromise which we've seen in quantified testing in the same way that we've seen the quantified data also conclusively point to the undeniable superiority of winter tires in wintry conditions, with snow and ice on the roadway.

Neither is debatable if one is to use quantified data to judge the issue.

The absolute truth of the matter is that the individual driver must decide for him/herself what they must prepare for: the worst 1/3 of possible conditions or the most typical/average 2/3 of conditions. That is anecessary compromise. How many of us look out of our windows during the winter and see only hardpack and ice on the ground? Or are the days more simply cold and rainy/dry?

From what current data suggests, the following generalization can be made:

"All Season" <-> "All Weather" <-> "Performance Winter" <-> "Studless Ice & Snow" and modern premium studded winter

clear dry/wet <--------------------------------------------------------------------------------> wintry frozen precipitation

  • The left side of each favors clear conditions (cold roadways, wet or dry, free of wintry precipitation)
  • The right side of each favors wintry conditions where frozen precipitation is present on roadways.
How one decides to approach that compromise will necessarily mean - given today's tire technology - a bias and compromise in the performance (read: safety) envelope.

Logic is logic. It doesn't just go one way. Winter tires are undeniably "safer" in wintry conditions as compared to "All Season" tires; their performance envelope is simply considerably larger when there's wintry precipitation on the roadways. But when the roadways are clear, that favor shifts, and it can just as easily and logically be argued that "All Season" tires will keep you "safer."

You've stuck with me this far (TL:DNR ?), so let me paint a concrete scenario:

A driver equips his vehicle with an excellent set of modern "Studdless Ice & Snow" tires for the winter, in preparation for his area's probable two to three bigger/worse winter storms. He views this purchase as an investment, one that can well save his insurance deductible over the course of the lifespan of his tires (the way he drives, for about 4 seasons, +/- three winters, total). His area, however, rarely gets such storms, and most of the time, he spends his time on well-maintained highways and streets that are simply wet. Occasion arises that he needs to panic-stop - full-tilt ABS - one night on his way home from work as the driver in front reacted to an incident: his awesome-for-the-winter "Studless Ice & Snow" can't make the best of such a circumstance and he winds up lightly rear-ending the stopped vehicle in front of him - braking distance that he knows should have been more than sufficient to have stopped his vehicle if he had his "usual" tires on.

Not a likely scenario?

Hark back to the 2009 C&D data above: at a rather cold 23 deg. F., on a wet-only surface, the "All Season" MXM4 required 140 ft. to come to a stop from 60 MPH. In those same conditions, the "Studless Ice & Snow" Xi2 required 174 ft. to achieve the same.

Sure, the same data definitely says that the Xi2s would have saved this driver's bacon had the same scenario played out on snow-covered roads - but as many of us can well see when we look out the window, "winter" isn't just all ice and snow.

Tires are a compromise, and we need to understand where that compromise comes in. Winter tires are not a cure-all to everyone's winter travel woes. There are no right or wrong choices - only choices that better or worse fits the requirements and desires of the individual driver.

The differences do not need to be drastic in order for them to be valid - by going the "safety" route, we are necessarily examining the unlikely scenario where the performance capabilities of the tires are going to be pushed towards their 10/10th or even beyond, toward failure. It's there that the differences of even a few feet become magnified by the real-world implication of insurance deductibles and premium costs and the hassles of an collision.

Living where I do, on the cusp between the primary and secondary snow-belts here in NE-Ohio - given our typical commute distance/hours - really, a "Performance Winter" or even an "All Weather" tire is really all that's truly necessary for the winter months. However, given what my wife and I do for a living - we can't really call in a sick day, and when others do, the need for us to show up actually becomes even more mportant - our vehicles are shod with "Studless Ice & Snow" winters (previous to this vehicle, I ran studded winters: our lifestyle changes for this vehicle pretty much demanded that I not have studs anymore).

Can someone living in a more temperate area benefit from winter tires? Certainly for those few times in the winter that they experience snow, ice, sleet and slush. However, they must realize that for the majority of days of their winter - days when they do not see wintry frozen precipitation on their roadways - they're actually going to be compromising wet and clear-roads performance, and realize that performance and safety are synonymous in this context.

It's logical to say that a tire that meets the demands of the worst weather conditions will keep you safer under such conditions.

However, if we say that we are preparing for the worst quarter of the possibilities, we must then also concede that we are compromising on the most common three-quarters of conditions.

Certainly, when the weather is bad, accidents happen.

But accidents are by definition unexpected - and if so, then can we, in good faith, say that we can avoid accidents by simply driving more carefully on our weather-compromised tire in that 75% of conditions for which our worst-case-scenario tires are not optimized for? And if one is inclined to answer "yes, it's reasonable to be more careful in clear conditions on winter tires," then could one not just as logically argue that one would be just as well off being commensurately "more careful" with "All-Season" tires in "wintry" conditions?

Logic doesn't just flow one way: we must realize that there is always a compromise.

At the insistence of logic, the only truly reasonable solution rests not in what anyone else chooses to shod their vehicles with. Rather, it is up to you - your personal needs and wants.

If you need to go out into that snowstorm because you're a first-responder or your occupation (or even hobby) otherwise requires it, then yes, it would make absolute sense to prepare for the worst.

But if you can telecommute or take public transportation when the white stuff is just "coming down" outside - or even hitch a ride with your buddy who has a monster of a winter setup for her vehicle or if you have another vehicle in the household that's specifically set up for winter-weather use - then perhaps it actually makes more sense for you to prepare for the more common scenarios that you'd face in your daily driver, rather than compromise "safety" in such conditions for the "safety" that you'll only rarely, if ever, need to call upon.

It's really about understanding one's unique needs and wants and how that plays into the actual weather conditions likely to be experienced. :)

------

Counterpoint:

A further complication that we have to keep in mind with the "switch point" between your "three-seasons" and your "winter" setup is just how fast the weather can swing in your area, and how readily you can respond to this change.

If you're able to haul out your winter setup and mount them on your vehicle at the drop of a hat, then yes, waiting until that first winter storm is right about on-you to change is completely viable.

But if you need to take your winter tires (un-mounted) into your local tire-shop to get them mounted on your existing wheels (because they're your only set) or if you're physically unable to do so or lack the equipment/space to do so and must rely on the kindness of a friend or relative, then you may even want to change to your seasonal setup somewhat earlier, realizing that late-fall is typically the busiest time for brick-and-mortar tire shops in cooler regions as they strive to accommodate a near-endless stream of customers who are either looking to purchase new tires so that they will be able to face the coming winter weather - or are facing the same needs as you.

We we start seeing temperatures around 40-45 deg. F., for those of us who live in cooler areas, we know from experience that the season really is turning. Here in NE-Ohio, at those temperatures, we can see swings up to 60 one day, and well below freezing the next.

Sure, the swing upwards causes a compromise in terms of safety (above) and tire-wear - but I think it's very reasonable to argue that a swing the other direction, with colder temperatures and some frozen precipitation on the roadway may be more cause for concern.

------

Oh, and in terms of an actual recommendation, kathytn?

Don't worry too much about splitting hairs with this review versus that review, this test versus that. Just go with one of the top-tier ranked tires in the genre that you're looking at, and know that "the best" test results is really just for those of us who love to bench-race.

In all honesty, if you started looking at all the varying tests and comparos out there, you'll start to notice that while one or another couple of tires are always at the top, their absolute ranking often varies by a spot or two. Realistically, this is due to minute differences in testing. In the real world, with any of us behind the wheel, these differences fade to nil.

Buy "one of the best," and rest assured that you'll have made an excellent investment.
Thank you so much for your extensive review! Funny, NE Ohio - guess we will be neighbors - I'm moving to Erie, PA in November from TN, thus my concern. I am retired - thus "don't have to" normally go out. I see in my original post, I mentioned Winter Tires. I didn't mean too. I'm really interested in "All Weather" (shouldn't I be?). There is no "trusted Discount Tire) in the area. So, what are some suggestions? I don't want someone to "sell" me on a poor choice/money maker for them. Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is a little bit of a harder play, I feel, kathytn -

While it is absolutely true that as temperatures plunge towards freezing that the specialized compounds in modern winter tires start to essentially "enhance" grip at a faster rate than their non-winterized counterparts "lose" grip (this is not really the case on either side of the equation, but it's an easy way to visualize the scenario), the actual question of "safety" is much harder to dissect.

While here in North-America we've been bombarded with the "45-degrees-and-switch" tag-line in advertisements.

But where's the actual proof?

And therein lies the issue. ;)

From as far back as 2005 and 2008, we've seen reports from Russian enthusiast media such as Auto Review (https://www.zr.ru/ - the original link was www.zr.ru/a/16286 , but that's now lost) with tests that examined pavement temperature effects on braking for summer tires, all-season tires, and winter tire (1), where the conclusion was that there's no need to rush the change in the fall/winter, and no need to delay the change in the spring - provided that there's no wintry precipitation on the ground, in spite of rather cold temperatures. Similarly, we've seen comparison testing from North-American enthusiast media in the same time-period (https://www.caranddriver.com/review...87926/2009-winter-tire-test-comparison-tests/) where, at a rather cold 23 deg. F., on both a wet-only surface as well as a dry one, the "All Season" MXM4 required 140 ft. to come to a stop from 60 MPH, versus the "Studless Ice & Snow" Xi2 requiring 174 ft. to achieve the same (I'll cite this data again below to put it into context, so bear with me a bit, here :)). And once more, similar conclusions were arrived at by TyreReview.UK in 2014 (http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2014-All-Season-Tyre-Test.htm).

To say that winter tires are "safer" for wintry conditions is definitely correct - the performance envelope in wintry conditions is simply considerably larger for winter tires.

However, that same margin of safety is decreased when it comes to clear, cold, wet or dry roadways - absent of frozen precipitation. This is, so far to-date, in as far as I am aware (and please, if anyone knows otherwise, I'd like to know, too! I'm always hungry for more, and more up-to-date, data), an undeniable compromise which we've seen in quantified testing in the same way that we've seen the quantified data also conclusively point to the undeniable superiority of winter tires in wintry conditions, with snow and ice on the roadway.

Neither is debatable if one is to use quantified data to judge the issue.

The absolute truth of the matter is that the individual driver must decide for him/herself what they must prepare for: the worst 1/3 of possible conditions or the most typical/average 2/3 of conditions. That is anecessary compromise. How many of us look out of our windows during the winter and see only hardpack and ice on the ground? Or are the days more simply cold and rainy/dry?

From what current data suggests, the following generalization can be made:

"All Season" <-> "All Weather" <-> "Performance Winter" <-> "Studless Ice & Snow" and modern premium studded winter

clear dry/wet <--------------------------------------------------------------------------------> wintry frozen precipitation

  • The left side of each favors clear conditions (cold roadways, wet or dry, free of wintry precipitation)
  • The right side of each favors wintry conditions where frozen precipitation is present on roadways.
How one decides to approach that compromise will necessarily mean - given today's tire technology - a bias and compromise in the performance (read: safety) envelope.

Logic is logic. It doesn't just go one way. Winter tires are undeniably "safer" in wintry conditions as compared to "All Season" tires; their performance envelope is simply considerably larger when there's wintry precipitation on the roadways. But when the roadways are clear, that favor shifts, and it can just as easily and logically be argued that "All Season" tires will keep you "safer."

You've stuck with me this far (TL:DNR ?), so let me paint a concrete scenario:

A driver equips his vehicle with an excellent set of modern "Studdless Ice & Snow" tires for the winter, in preparation for his area's probable two to three bigger/worse winter storms. He views this purchase as an investment, one that can well save his insurance deductible over the course of the lifespan of his tires (the way he drives, for about 4 seasons, +/- three winters, total). His area, however, rarely gets such storms, and most of the time, he spends his time on well-maintained highways and streets that are simply wet. Occasion arises that he needs to panic-stop - full-tilt ABS - one night on his way home from work as the driver in front reacted to an incident: his awesome-for-the-winter "Studless Ice & Snow" can't make the best of such a circumstance and he winds up lightly rear-ending the stopped vehicle in front of him - braking distance that he knows should have been more than sufficient to have stopped his vehicle if he had his "usual" tires on.

Not a likely scenario?

Hark back to the 2009 C&D data above: at a rather cold 23 deg. F., on a wet-only surface, the "All Season" MXM4 required 140 ft. to come to a stop from 60 MPH. In those same conditions, the "Studless Ice & Snow" Xi2 required 174 ft. to achieve the same.

Sure, the same data definitely says that the Xi2s would have saved this driver's bacon had the same scenario played out on snow-covered roads - but as many of us can well see when we look out the window, "winter" isn't just all ice and snow.

Tires are a compromise, and we need to understand where that compromise comes in. Winter tires are not a cure-all to everyone's winter travel woes. There are no right or wrong choices - only choices that better or worse fits the requirements and desires of the individual driver.

The differences do not need to be drastic in order for them to be valid - by going the "safety" route, we are necessarily examining the unlikely scenario where the performance capabilities of the tires are going to be pushed towards their 10/10th or even beyond, toward failure. It's there that the differences of even a few feet become magnified by the real-world implication of insurance deductibles and premium costs and the hassles of an collision.

Living where I do, on the cusp between the primary and secondary snow-belts here in NE-Ohio - given our typical commute distance/hours - really, a "Performance Winter" or even an "All Weather" tire is really all that's truly necessary for the winter months. However, given what my wife and I do for a living - we can't really call in a sick day, and when others do, the need for us to show up actually becomes even more mportant - our vehicles are shod with "Studless Ice & Snow" winters (previous to this vehicle, I ran studded winters: our lifestyle changes for this vehicle pretty much demanded that I not have studs anymore).

Can someone living in a more temperate area benefit from winter tires? Certainly for those few times in the winter that they experience snow, ice, sleet and slush. However, they must realize that for the majority of days of their winter - days when they do not see wintry frozen precipitation on their roadways - they're actually going to be compromising wet and clear-roads performance, and realize that performance and safety are synonymous in this context.

It's logical to say that a tire that meets the demands of the worst weather conditions will keep you safer under such conditions.

However, if we say that we are preparing for the worst quarter of the possibilities, we must then also concede that we are compromising on the most common three-quarters of conditions.

Certainly, when the weather is bad, accidents happen.

But accidents are by definition unexpected - and if so, then can we, in good faith, say that we can avoid accidents by simply driving more carefully on our weather-compromised tire in that 75% of conditions for which our worst-case-scenario tires are not optimized for? And if one is inclined to answer "yes, it's reasonable to be more careful in clear conditions on winter tires," then could one not just as logically argue that one would be just as well off being commensurately "more careful" with "All-Season" tires in "wintry" conditions?

Logic doesn't just flow one way: we must realize that there is always a compromise.

At the insistence of logic, the only truly reasonable solution rests not in what anyone else chooses to shod their vehicles with. Rather, it is up to you - your personal needs and wants.

If you need to go out into that snowstorm because you're a first-responder or your occupation (or even hobby) otherwise requires it, then yes, it would make absolute sense to prepare for the worst.

But if you can telecommute or take public transportation when the white stuff is just "coming down" outside - or even hitch a ride with your buddy who has a monster of a winter setup for her vehicle or if you have another vehicle in the household that's specifically set up for winter-weather use - then perhaps it actually makes more sense for you to prepare for the more common scenarios that you'd face in your daily driver, rather than compromise "safety" in such conditions for the "safety" that you'll only rarely, if ever, need to call upon.

It's really about understanding one's unique needs and wants and how that plays into the actual weather conditions likely to be experienced. :)

------

Counterpoint:

A further complication that we have to keep in mind with the "switch point" between your "three-seasons" and your "winter" setup is just how fast the weather can swing in your area, and how readily you can respond to this change.

If you're able to haul out your winter setup and mount them on your vehicle at the drop of a hat, then yes, waiting until that first winter storm is right about on-you to change is completely viable.

But if you need to take your winter tires (un-mounted) into your local tire-shop to get them mounted on your existing wheels (because they're your only set) or if you're physically unable to do so or lack the equipment/space to do so and must rely on the kindness of a friend or relative, then you may even want to change to your seasonal setup somewhat earlier, realizing that late-fall is typically the busiest time for brick-and-mortar tire shops in cooler regions as they strive to accommodate a near-endless stream of customers who are either looking to purchase new tires so that they will be able to face the coming winter weather - or are facing the same needs as you.

We we start seeing temperatures around 40-45 deg. F., for those of us who live in cooler areas, we know from experience that the season really is turning. Here in NE-Ohio, at those temperatures, we can see swings up to 60 one day, and well below freezing the next.

Sure, the swing upwards causes a compromise in terms of safety (above) and tire-wear - but I think it's very reasonable to argue that a swing the other direction, with colder temperatures and some frozen precipitation on the roadway may be more cause for concern.

------

Oh, and in terms of an actual recommendation, kathytn?

Don't worry too much about splitting hairs with this review versus that review, this test versus that. Just go with one of the top-tier ranked tires in the genre that you're looking at, and know that "the best" test results is really just for those of us who love to bench-race.

In all honesty, if you started looking at all the varying tests and comparos out there, you'll start to notice that while one or another couple of tires are always at the top, their absolute ranking often varies by a spot or two. Realistically, this is due to minute differences in testing. In the real world, with any of us behind the wheel, these differences fade to nil.

Buy "one of the best," and rest assured that you'll have made an excellent investment.
10 years of technological advances is significant. I would suggest that there is no question that the rubber compounds are different and are designed to work in differing environments than each other. The manufacturers between then and now have worked hard to improve the niche advantages of these winter tires. The early versions of winter tires wer mostly about tread depth and working in snow. They advanced to running in icy conditions and then the newer versions have focused on compounds that provide benefits in dry cold conditions. Those tests are comparing the older versions that manufacturers developed. I will endevour to locate the primary reesearch from Bridgestone for their newest products and post it next week if at all possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
At least for those of us in Colorado we have laws that under certain conditions we are required to use snow socks or chains on some interstate roadways. Those chains or socks require slower speeds or can not be used on our Subaru at all. In contrast, using a winter tire is all we would need for those times (albeit probably few per year for most drivers), we can drive at faster speeds and save the time and expense of installing a sock/chain set-up. A sock is not going to do anything for deeper snow. Installing socks on the side of the road can be dangerous.

I agree that an individual and their unique travel habits and where they live will drive the decision.

I owned this Ascent less than one week when in the Denver metro area we were hit with a major snow storm in 2018. I left work early that day and ventured into my first real Subaru experience. I drove home carefully but confidently and drove to work the next day when others simply could not make it in (OEM tires). I love my Subaru.
 
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