Subaru Ascent Forum banner

21 - 40 of 46 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
534 Posts
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.
Thanks so much for the Videos! That really explains things. Except for the "brand" that we have, it looks like I have the right tire - assuming that they are All Season. I appreciate all the input from both of you, it's been very helpful!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
576 Posts
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
No thanks needed - I'm always good to have a long discussion about winter tires. :) They're a "hobby of necessity" for me, here in NE-Ohio, and with how much both my wife and I need to stay mobile regardless of how much snow is on the ground. :)

In terms of "All-Weather" tires -

Michelin's CrossClimate SUV fared well in the latest Auto Bild testing of tires in this specific sub-genre and fitment ( https://tiresvote.com/articles/auto-bild-allrad-2019-all-terrain-suv-tire-test/ - note that their "All Terrain" carries a different meaning than what we're used to, here in the US), and I believe are both available here Stateside as well as comes in our fitment (including load) for 18" size - I'm not sure about 19 or 20. Vredestein's Quatrac 5 actually tested higher overall, but I'm not sure that this make/model has fitments available for us here. Both of these tires tested more towards the clear side of the equation versus snow, but they were deemed capable overall there, too.

A long-running favorite in the Subaru community are Nokian tires, and they did have an offering that was included in this test, the WeatherProof SUV. I am pretty sure that this is not a tire that's available, here, stateside. Despite testing in the bottom half of the competition, they were noted for their strong snow performance...but if they aren't available here, that's kinda a moot point.... :(

I know that Consumer Reports updated their rankings of stateside All-Weather offerings in 2018, but I am ignorant of their results. Whatever it happens to be, be sure that you qualify your fitment with the proper load rating necessary for our vehicle, as I also am not sure if their test was based only on passenger vehicles.

---------

10 years of technological advances is significant.
I completely agree - but the latest data comes from the last 5 years (my point in bringing up the c.2005 data is to show just how far this issue was explored: that was at a time when the winter tire market for North America was really at its infancy, even on NASIOC), and since then, I've seen no re-visit of the issue on a serious basis, with actual data. I'm really not sure what this means: is it that we've put the issue to-bed, or is it just that current tire technologies has yet to improve beyond this state?

Technology stops for no-one, and we saw this in the winter tire sector back in ~2009 or so, with then-modern premium studded winter tires taking a giant leap in performance:


Definitely, if there's been any changes in the last five years or so, I'd love to learn about them! :)

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.
Absolutely.

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.
Again, absolutely true, and this is something that I also highlighted many times in the past ( I'm the same "TSiWRX" or "TSi+WRX" on SubaruOutback.org and SubaruForester.org, and "LGT+WRX" elsewhere in the online Subaru community ;)). Modern winter tires are a totally different beast versus the "snow tires" that our grandparents or even our parents shod their vehicles with.

The ability to optimize one's vehicle performance and driving preferences by fitting the vehicle with different sub-genres of modern winter tires is something that's truly a wonder of modern engineering. Having been able to drive extensively on a few different "Performance Winters," "Studless Ice & Snow," studded, and even "All Weather" tires, it's really remarkable how these different sub-genres of tires can affect the on-road capabilities of the vehicles that they're fitted to.

As a full confession, at one point, I ran two different sets of winter tires on one of my Subarus - a set of "Performance Winters" for the transition months in late-fall/early winter and late-winter/early-spring, and then a studded set for our deep winter months. That was a lot of tire-switching! ? (Hey, at least I didn't also have two sets of summers!)

45 degrees F equals 7.2 Celsius

^ This video didn't explore temperature, but does properly highlight the difference between dry/wet-clear versus wintry precipitation. At the ~4:50 mark, the presenter starts to discuss "cold conditions," but he equates "cold" with frozen precipitation. What's up for debate is not the performance of the two types of tires under wintry conditions, but rather, without. Here, there are no surprises.

^ Vredestein is a brand that I've come to trust over the years. And what's to note here is that the video presents a side-by-side of "summer" tires versus "winter" tires. Most of this brand's "summer" offerings are not seen here in the US - and are a distinct genre differentiation versus their "All Season" tires (Vredestein's symbol for "All Season" tires is "
" While the use of a summer tire nicely demonstrates the importance of compounding (removing the consideration of tread patterns completely), it nevertheless throws a good amount of bias towards winter tire (for a more visceral view of this bias, look at the videos I cited in the SF.org out-link below, they're a lot of fun :) ).

^ This is all in wintry conditions (snow/groomed hardpack). Again, the focus is not about the relative performance of a winter tire versus a "non-seasonal" tire under true wintry conditions (frozen precipitation on the ground), rather, their relative performance when the roadways are simply cold/dry or cold/wet, but clear of frozen wintry precipitation

Yes, it's undeniable that a winter tire's special compounding (whether it is "single layer" like that of most makes, or a "dual layer" design as found on the "Studless Ice & Snow" offerings that Bridgestone has on the market) comes into its own as the temperatures drop (recall my opening in the previous post - that, in very simplistic terms, as temperatures drop toward freezing, 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 basically what this presenter is saying between the 1:00 to 2:00 mark, and at ~2:45 in the first video), and even moreso when there's wintry precipitation on the ground (this old posts of mind on SF.org has some fun stuff, and I hope its out-links to various videos still all work - https://www.subaruforester.org/threads/anyone-put-snow-tires-on-their-subaru.246610/#post-2569546).

But at transitional temperatures - especially when there's no wintry precipitation on the ground - the story becomes much more complicated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,819 Posts
Discussion Starter #23
I look forward to my call to Bridgestone corporate. Tire rack had nothing of testing value to offer, just marketing gibberish. Discount tire is in the same boat. I am very curious for practical reasons.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
576 Posts
Marketing is a huge thing with winter tires - it (winter tires) really blew up (the market) between 2004/5 and 2008.

It's long disappeared, but one of Continental's higher-ups - I believe it was a VP of some form or another - gave an interview at one point that basically flat-out said that for the North American market, they push more advertising because that's what consumers believe in and will make their purchasing decisions from.

This, versus the European market, where purchasing decisions are based much more on various testing results, which, of-course, is likely the cause of the various testing-ringer scandals over the years).

A lot of us in the enthusiast community felt slighted by this remark: it made it seems as if we were a bunch of flippant idiots who didn't understand the difference between marketing drivel and hard data (well, even if that data had been corrupted by said ringer/cheater tires). :ROFLMAO:

I'd be very interested to see what your sources at Bridgestone have to say about this specific observation - and whether it still holds true today. The nerd in me really wants to know, and I thank you in advance for taking the time! :geek:

Back in 2010, I was able to question one of Michelin's tire engineers about this when I cornered him at the World Release of the Pilot Super Sport in Dubai. I knew that he wasn't a specialist with the winter side of the equation, but he pointed out something to me that made a lot of sense, but which was lost on me until then, as just an average hobbyist/layman. This particular engineer pointed out that tires generate their own heat from friction as they roll down the roadway, and he theorized that it's likely that this was able to help enough in clear (no frozen precipitation) conditions to shift the balance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
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).
Hello! Do you mind if I ask how much you ended up paying for your tire + wheel package? I'm lookin at a 1,100 package, including installation and fees from discount tire and was wondering if that is reasonable.

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
576 Posts
^ I'm not Percy, but yes, that's typical for most 18-inch sizes of typical fitment for our Ascent, with both reasonable wheels and tires.

Details matter here, though.

That $1,100 could be fancier wheels with tires that may be second tier, or it could be it other way around, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Thanks for replying! I'm looking at getting the vision cross 2 wheels along with the continental-winter-contact-si tires. I was considering the Pirelli Scorpion Winter for tires, but they cost so much more than the contis.

I went through this thread: https://www.ascentforums.com/thread...ad-rating-of-any-aftermarket-rims-tires.6031/

And it looks like the vision cross wheels comfortably exceed the minimum load rating for the Ascent.

What do you run during the winter?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
576 Posts
^ You should be fine. And really, no thanks needed - I'm always glad to talk about winter rubber!

Don't get hung up too much with what may or may not be the absolute "best" with one test/comparo/rating or another. That's really just for those of us who love to deep-dive into this stuff (and to bench-race with what we read :geek:).

As for the Pirellis, other factors may have been at-play in its pricing. There could be some kind of incentives we can't see/take advantage of at the distributor level that's affecting retail pricing. There could also be the simple fact that Pirelli is regarded as a premium brand here in North America. Don't sweat it: the Contis are a great choice (top tier, consistently, in various North American reviews/tests/comparos in years past), and your wheels seem sufficiently up to the task based on that reference thread.

I'm currently on a set of Bridgestone DM V2s for the Ascent. They're actually my first set of studless winters in a long time (for my daily driver, that is). I enjoyed them last winter for the few times that the frozen stuff was actually on the ground. We'll see how they do this year, as The Old Farmer's Almanac says that we're supposed to get more!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Great! I'm really excited for another crazy snowy winter! I live at 6300 feet outside of salt lake and we would get feet of snow in some of the storms. I'm not going to make the mistake of running all seasons through that again.

Thanks again for your time!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,819 Posts
Discussion Starter #30
^ You should be fine. And really, no thanks needed - I'm always glad to talk about winter rubber!

Don't get hung up too much with what may or may not be the absolute "best" with one test/comparo/rating or another. That's really just for those of us who love to deep-dive into this stuff (and to bench-race with what we read :geek:).

As for the Pirellis, other factors may have been at-play in its pricing. There could be some kind of incentives we can't see/take advantage of at the distributor level that's affecting retail pricing. There could also be the simple fact that Pirelli is regarded as a premium brand here in North America. Don't sweat it: the Contis are a great choice (top tier, consistently, in various North American reviews/tests/comparos in years past), and your wheels seem sufficiently up to the task based on that reference thread.

I'm currently on a set of Bridgestone DM V2s for the Ascent. They're actually my first set of studless winters in a long time (for my daily driver, that is). I enjoyed them last winter for the few times that the frozen stuff was actually on the ground. We'll see how they do this year, as The Old Farmer's Almanac says that we're supposed to get more!
Good to hear. The DM V2 is what I am purchasing next week. I will wait to install until probably late October.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
695 Posts
I know one of the people at the tire shop, and I paid about $950 for wheels and tires that would have been about 1250 anywhere else. Nobody could come close to that price. I bought the general altimax tires because I found it to be one of the best winter tires I've ever used. I couldn't put winter tires on my factory 20s for that price so the 18-inch wheels and tires made sense for me....

As an aside, I do know that most chain tire shops will match/beat a published price from another retailer.

If you really want the best thing ever for snow and ice, and you don't care how much you pay, go with the nokian hakkapeliittas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
576 Posts
The General Altimax Arctics remain a perennial favorite - and I think rightfully so, given its excellent availability and pricing.

I keep wondering if they've done any tweaking to the compounding over the years, since the Gislaved Nordfrost 3 days. If they have a fitment available, I'd be eager to try the Arctic 12 in studded flavor, given the performance of the studded Gislaved NordFrost 100 in European tests over the course of the last few years as a solid mid-pack runner.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
I have been running the Nokian WR G4 tires on my Outback for about a year now. They are "all weather" tires - that is, they are meant to be run all year (unlike dedicated snow tires), but still do very will in snow/ice (especially compared to the typical all season tire). I have been very happy with them overall and would / will buy them again (or perhaps a similar tire from a competitor).

I don't know if the WR G4 are available in Ascent sizes.

Pros:
Mine were relatively inexpensive (seems to vary drastically by size) I paid about $130 each.
Exceptionally good in snow/ice compared to all season tires.
Can run them all year round.

Cons:
Apparently (according to Consumer Reports) don't do well in some wet conditions (I think it was wet braking). I can't say I have noticed this, but we don't get a lot of rain in Denver.
Low frequency road noise at highway speeds. Not a big deal for me (it is usually not very loud) but on some road surfaces it can be pretty bad.
Not a common tire. You get a blowout in the middle of Nebraska, you won't likely find a WR G4 replacement...


I used to run the Hankook i-Pike tires (they look identical to General Altimax Arctic to me) and my impression is that the Nokians are almost as good (actually my experience is that they are better, but it's not an "apples to apples" comparison, so other factors could account for that) The point is that they are quite capable in ice and snow (absolutely no comparison to any all season tire I have used). I can expand on this if anyone is interested. (They are not as good as the Blizzak WS80s, in my experience - different car, so again not an "apples to apples" comparison)

I'm not sure what is meant by "snow rated all terrain", so I'm not sure if the WR G4 tires qualify or not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
No question. Hands down. I am a ski instructor and drive thousands of miles every winter in the Oregon Cascades and in extreme winter driving conditions. I have exclusively driven Subarus for years and have never had a winter driving issue. BUT, as much as we can credit the incredible capabilities of our Subarus, including my 2019 Ascent, it doesn't amount to much without great snow tires. If you are going to be driving a lot on snow and Ice get severe winter rated studless snow tires. Studs are evil and unnecessary with modern studless snow tires. I use Bridgestone Blizzaks and swear by them. I do not mind doing the mount/dismount twice a year. Worth it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Snow tires are a must in NH and the best are Bridgestone Blizzaks. I just purchased a set of 245/50R20 DM-V2’s from Tire Rack which was offering an $80 gift card.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
695 Posts
It's always hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison. For instance With the general altimax arctics, I have the newer version on the ascent, and the older model on my MKZ. And I think the MKZ actually does a little better than the Subaru with regards to off the line acceleration. hear me out please before you rake me over the coals I think that's because the MKZ has a torque peak that occurs at a higher RPM, has less pounds-feet of overall torque, and has a much less sensitive throttle, so it's easier to modulate the throttle from a standstill. I can't speak for any other conditions besides on road snow, slush, and occasional ice. I also made sure the cross section of the winter tires were narrower than the summer tires, because you do want to have more force per unit area in order to gain traction in snow, or rain.

the reason I feel like the hakkapeliittas were the best tire I've ever had- again, I didn't have them on my other cars so I don't have a direct comparison- but the Mercedes had a huge turbo V8 with tons of torque off the line, and those tires would just bite in and go (and stop, as well) no matter what the conditions were.

these are always personal preferences, I'd suggest you talk to your local tire shop because of the sales people there know what the local road conditions are like, and can recommend the best tire for them

I had gislaved winter tires on a Honda prelude 25 years ago, that was my first eye-opening experience with winter vs. All season tires.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
576 Posts
A couple of issues that I hope to "modernize" folks regarding tire width and studded tires. :)

As a word of warning, this is going to be a TL: DNR kind of post :p , but I feel that it's important that we as enthusiasts are up-to-date regarding the more technical aspects of our hobby, and that we're also using modern data. As many have pointed out in this thread already, modern winter tires are not the "snow tires" of our grandparents' or even parents' generation. We need to approach this beast with the understanding that things have changed drastically within the last decade to decade-and-a-half.

-----

First, width:

Per the specialists at Tire Rack, a simple one-step change in with (i.e. 205 to 215, or vice-versa; you'll note that I'm using a much narrower hypothetical tire here as I'm taking much of this discussion from a past post of mine on another Forum) will be unlikely to be noticed by the vast majority of drivers (the exact words were: "...unless your last name is Andretti, Rahal, or Schumacher....").

Jumps of two sizes may bring about some more interesting results.... But let's examine in more detail why a one-size jump can well be camouflaged by other real-world factors.

First of all, that 215 and 205 listed "sectional width" may actually put down different amount of "meat" on the roadway - anything from how the tire is designed (i.e. if you're comparing two different brands or even models of tires) to how that tire fits on your chosen rims can affect this "footprint."

Tire width plays a highly variable role in how a winter tire will perform given any particular type of winter weather as well as clear-roads (free of wintry precipitation, but not necessarily dry) conditions.

The ability to resist hydroplaning as well as move through snow and slush - while typically favoring narrower tires, is also heavily influenced by tread design. With two different tires to consider, just choosing the narrower of the two (and again, remember, the numbers here may or may not actually translate to actual footprint) may even net opposite results versus what you desire, should that tire already perform worse in those conditions than the other.

"Too skinny" also has its limits. Remember that while we are talking about winter tires, we are still talking about tires that are being driven in the real world - not in ice-races. The roads that we drive on every day (for those of us in the lower 48) is unlikely to always be buried under 16 inches of fresh powder that's sitting on top of hardpack. Instead, clear and dry roadways are a consideration that's very real in most cities, and for most drivers, their winter set must also bridge into the warmer transitional seasons. To-wit: how many drivers in this community - or any other - do you know of that runs or have run three sets of tires: one for the warmer months, one for the transitional seasons, and another for the deep winter months?

Not all conditions can be met with the ice-racing/rally ideal of specified thin, spiked tire.

The exact conditions under which a "wider" or "narrower" tire will prove favorable depends highly on what the vehicle is driving through at any given moment - and while the end-user can bias generalized performance characteristics to match his or her anticipated driving needs, the old generalization that "narrower is better for winter" is pretty much just as valid as the "45 degrees and below" marketing slogan of yesteryear.

Note that I am not insisting that a wider - or OEM width - tire is automatically better.

Rather, I am suggesting that the end-user must dissect for themselves exactly what they expect out of their winter tire setup, and purchase both the right tire for the job, as well as the right sizing for the job.

No blanket statements. No generalizations.

Typically a narrower tire will "cut through" fresh powder and slush better, as well as will better resist slushplaning and hydroplaning. However, in terms of the first consideration of cutting through powder, better traction will only arrive if there is something for that tire to actually grip underneath what that tire is able to cut through above. And in terms of slush/hydroplaning resistance, as mentioned previously, there is still a lot to be said about tread design: a tire inherently worse at slush/hydroplane resistance is not automatically going to better a wider tire that is inherently better at this parameter.

As for wider tires, typically, given clear conditions, they will act much like wider tires will in the warmer seasons, offering a larger contact patch and thus enhancing performance in a similar manner.

Overall, sizing is a secondary consideration - the end-user must first bias the actual tire selection (i.e. make/model) towards their driving needs:

Ice traction
Snow Traction
Slushplaning resistance
Hydroplaning resistance
Dry Handling & Braking
Wet Handling & Braking
Noise
Price/availability

Let these first guide you towards a tire that's available (including the possibility of having to source replacements - it's great to end up with a bargain, but if a "closeout" tire can't easily be sourced as replacement, that's a bit hairy, no? same goes for this season's best and greatest - if you're getting it shipped in from where Thor calls home, what happens when you pop a tire on a newly thawed-out pothole?) and at least reasonable in your sizing requirements (coming in within your desired ride-height variance and speedometer error, but also more importantly for us Ascent drivers the correct load rating).

Similarly, let your first decision point be the sub-genre of "winter" tire you require, be it just an aggressively winterized All-Season, an "All Weather," a "Performance Winter," a "Studless Ice & Snow" or a studdable winter tire (either with or without studs).

Having a 205 section width (necessitating concomitant increase in sidewall height in order to maintain overall diameter: i.e. "tall and skinny") "Performance Winter" may or may not be a plus as compared to a 225-section width studdable winter that you've decided to run studs on.

And while 17s will typically cost less than 18s and the taller sidewall can also get you a bit more rim protection, this needs to be considered in the context of the width of the wheels to which the tire is fitted, too - if you go too narrow for the width of the rims, it's gonna wind up less than ideal and also compromise rim protection. Similarly, taller sidewalls can also negatively impact handling/feel on clear roads (yes, you're buying a winter tire, but does that mean that the tire will never see any clear road use? either during the winter or during the transition seasons?). And regardless of your tire fitment, proper inflation is going to matter a heck of a lot in preventing tire/rim damage. To wit: many Subaru owners drive WRXs and WRX/STIs as well as Legacys - and there's plenty of folks there who are at the cusp of the 225/45 aspect-ratio - how many tales of dire tire/rim damage in the winter do we hear of from Forum communities such as NASIOC or LegacyGT.com? For most Ascent fitments that are OE sized or "minus one," rim protection should not be an issue provided that the tires are properly inflated.

One more consideration is that "more tire" will mean more unsprung weight, simply because there's more rubber, but that needs to be played against downsizing of the rims - a net savings is always nice, as unsprung weight is always the enemy (counterpoint: there's been some thinking that increasing wheel weight can lend a sense of subjective handling "certainty" in wintry conditions).

And I'll end this post with something that's been puzzling us winter tire hobbyists since we first read it back in the 2014-2015 winter season. Unfortunately, the first link is defunct, but the second one still works:

Continental Tires -Â*Summer-like drivability, but in wintry conditions.

and

Continental Tires -Â*High performance in tough conditions. With wide winter tires from Continental.

^ Of which I quote:

A wider tire equates to better performance on dry or wet roads and compacted snow. They provide excellent performance in all winter conditions because:

  • More sipes interlock with the ground, even on snow;
  • Shorter braking distance due to larger tread blocks;
  • Consistent and balanced drivability and better steering precision;
  • Sportier driving comfort.
Tires are a compromise - sizing is, too.

-----

And the same goes for studs.

Here in North America, part of our problem is that while we've pretty much finally caught-up with our European counterparts in our appreciation for winter tires, we're not totally there, yet, because in large part of the less harsh conditions we in the lower-48 typically see during our winters.

To-date, our understanding of modern premium studded winter tires has yet to defy observations made by fellow enthusiasts in Germany (i.e. ADAC), Scandinavia (like the NAF), and Russia (AutoReview).

error on LegacyGT.com said:
The graphs are quite self-explanatory.

In short:

-19C and colder: studless tires are better on ice, because the ice surface may be too hard for studs to bite effectively.

-13C: studded and studless tires are more or less similar.

-5C: studded average braking distance (from 50km/h down to 5 km/h) 29 m, studless ~55 m.

0C: studded 33 m, studless ~82 m.
Convert those temperatures to our more familiar Fahrenheit scale, and you get:
  • approx. -2 deg. F.
  • approx. 9 deg. F.
  • approx. 23 deg. F.
  • 32 deg. F.
This data comes from 10 years ago - 2009 - at what was perhaps the height of the modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" (as we call it here in North America) versus modern premium studded winter (the term "studdable "is again unique to North America, as in most areas of the world where such tires are available, they are always used in studded format) fight. But to-date, there has yet to be data that suggests otherwise. In any case, speculation was that as temperatures dropped, the ice actually became hard enough that studs had trouble actually "chipping into" the surface - as a result, softer compounding as well as the micro structures that in-essence makes modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tire work actually only here really starts to exert a greater effect.

Even worse is the persistent myth that studded tires are somehow a deathtrap in the clear - particularly in the wet. This is an outdated notion that, for some reason, many tire enthusiasts in North America continue to propagate.

It's simply not true.

It hasn't been true for well close to two decades.

Actually, anyone who would suggest that modern premium studded winters are somehow unsafe in wet or otherwise clear conditions would need to make the same concession about modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires. Modern data simply demands this logic.

It's not the studs that's the problem. It's the base tire that's the problem.

Starting from as far back as a decade ago, we've seen in objective tests from Russian and European sources which demonstrated repeatedly that modern premium studded winter tires fare just as well - if not considerably better than - modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires where it comes to clear-road performance, both wet and dry. In-reality, it's actually only in the past five years that we've seen modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires really start to be able to put up a good fight versus modern premium studded winters (in, if nothing else, pure snow: reference the Swedish enthusiast magazine Vi Bilägare's 2018 studded tire review, in which the vaunted Hakka R3 was used as a cross-genre comparison contro).

The problem really comes in when we here in the United States, for example, use a low-tier, "old-tech" studded tire such as the Firestone Winterforce as the base of comparison, putting it up as competition to a premium modern "Studless Ice & Snow."

That's akin to having a 50-year-old white-collar pencil-pusher run a sprint versus an Olympic-level track-star. It just isn't fair (and from where I sit as a consumer, I would say that it's unethical for vendors/vested-interest sources to continue to do so). European, Nordic, and Russian enthusiasts have long stopped such comparisons, citing them as useless, as the conditions under which these two very different sub-types of tires are to be best employed are so vastly different that it makes their cross-comparisons a total joke.

Compounding that problem is that if you run a (any) studdable tire without studs, typically, you'll see a drastic reduction in ice/hardpack traction. Given that the many of the old-tech, lower-tier "studdable" winter tires that we see almost uniquely here in the North American market relies heavily on their studding to do the job in icy conditions, again, what we see is that it's actually more the problem that the tire itself is not great to start with, rather than anything else.

The difference between modern premium studded tires and modern premium "Studless Ice and Snow" tires, where it comes to ice traction, is just temperature.

However, road-legality concerns as well as personal NVH preferences mean that for the majority of North American drivers, "Studless Ice & Snow" tires are a better compromise.

------

Overall:

Look beyond subjective reviews.

Look for objectivity - look for hard numbers.

If anyone can find actual hard data (i.e. numbers) that claim other than what I've written here, I'd be glad to see it. ?

Pertinent past threads/posts:

http://legacygt.com/forums/showthread.php/stud-not-stud-tires-123392.html
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/1887785-post13.html
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/934408-post73.html
SB9T.com - View Single Post - New tires question
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/2933010-post82.html
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f72/snow-tires-new-pacific-northwest-snow-257282/

Yes, there's some "rules of thumb," but just how much of an impact they will make in real-world everyday driving has a lot to do with a multitude of other choices you make along with that selection of that specific tire. Flush out for yourself exactly why you want a certain tire: what you expect and need it to do - then work towards that aspect of the compromise.

Understand what your compromises are - that's what'll make you happy: not some mindless adherence to any "rules of thumb."

OK, for those of you whose eyes just glossed overo_O at TL: DNR -

Just buy a top-tier tire, and rest assured that you'll be OK through the vast majority of what Mother Nature will be able to throw at you this winter. :)

If you live where it's either more mild most of the time or if you can elect to simply not drive when it's bad out, a good "All-Weather" - or even a good "All Season" - truly may be all that you'll ever need.

If you live in a colder area and/or must prepare for some winter travel, a good "Performance Winter" will be a good bet if your area typically is either just cold and wet and/or sees reliable street grooming.

If you live in an area where the streets aren't as well plowed/treated, a good "Studless Ice & Snow" may then be a better bet - or, if legalities/NVH aren't an issue and the conditions more favorable (temperatures not terribly low - or simply the lack of sufficient traffic to allow icier surfaces to be "roughed up" enough for "Studless Ice & Snow" tires to perform optimally), a modern premium studded.

Let us tire-geeks worry benchrace the details. :geek:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
695 Posts
A couple of issues that I hope to "modernize" folks regarding tire width and studded tires. :)

As a word of warning, this is going to be a TL: DNR kind of post :p , but I feel that it's important that we as enthusiasts are up-to-date regarding the more technical aspects of our hobby, and that we're also using modern data. As many have pointed out in this thread already, modern winter tires are not the "snow tires" of our grandparents' or even parents' generation. We need to approach this beast with the understanding that things have changed drastically within the last decade to decade-and-a-half.

-----

First, width:

Per the specialists at Tire Rack, a simple one-step change in with (i.e. 205 to 215, or vice-versa; you'll note that I'm using a much narrower hypothetical tire here as I'm taking much of this discussion from a past post of mine on another Forum) will be unlikely to be noticed by the vast majority of drivers (the exact words were: "...unless your last name is Andretti, Rahal, or Schumacher....").

Jumps of two sizes may bring about some more interesting results.... But let's examine in more detail why a one-size jump can well be camouflaged by other real-world factors.

First of all, that 215 and 205 listed "sectional width" may actually put down different amount of "meat" on the roadway - anything from how the tire is designed (i.e. if you're comparing two different brands or even models of tires) to how that tire fits on your chosen rims can affect this "footprint."

Tire width plays a highly variable role in how a winter tire will perform given any particular type of winter weather as well as clear-roads (free of wintry precipitation, but not necessarily dry) conditions.

The ability to resist hydroplaning as well as move through snow and slush - while typically favoring narrower tires, is also heavily influenced by tread design. With two different tires to consider, just choosing the narrower of the two (and again, remember, the numbers here may or may not actually translate to actual footprint) may even net opposite results versus what you desire, should that tire already perform worse in those conditions than the other.

"Too skinny" also has its limits. Remember that while we are talking about winter tires, we are still talking about tires that are being driven in the real world - not in ice-races. The roads that we drive on every day (for those of us in the lower 48) is unlikely to always be buried under 16 inches of fresh powder that's sitting on top of hardpack. Instead, clear and dry roadways are a consideration that's very real in most cities, and for most drivers, their winter set must also bridge into the warmer transitional seasons. To-wit: how many drivers in this community - or any other - do you know of that runs or have run three sets of tires: one for the warmer months, one for the transitional seasons, and another for the deep winter months?

Not all conditions can be met with the ice-racing/rally ideal of specified thin, spiked tire.

The exact conditions under which a "wider" or "narrower" tire will prove favorable depends highly on what the vehicle is driving through at any given moment - and while the end-user can bias generalized performance characteristics to match his or her anticipated driving needs, the old generalization that "narrower is better for winter" is pretty much just as valid as the "45 degrees and below" marketing slogan of yesteryear.

Note that I am not insisting that a wider - or OEM width - tire is automatically better.

Rather, I am suggesting that the end-user must dissect for themselves exactly what they expect out of their winter tire setup, and purchase both the right tire for the job, as well as the right sizing for the job.

No blanket statements. No generalizations.

Typically a narrower tire will "cut through" fresh powder and slush better, as well as will better resist slushplaning and hydroplaning. However, in terms of the first consideration of cutting through powder, better traction will only arrive if there is something for that tire to actually grip underneath what that tire is able to cut through above. And in terms of slush/hydroplaning resistance, as mentioned previously, there is still a lot to be said about tread design: a tire inherently worse at slush/hydroplane resistance is not automatically going to better a wider tire that is inherently better at this parameter.

As for wider tires, typically, given clear conditions, they will act much like wider tires will in the warmer seasons, offering a larger contact patch and thus enhancing performance in a similar manner.

Overall, sizing is a secondary consideration - the end-user must first bias the actual tire selection (i.e. make/model) towards their driving needs:

Ice traction
Snow Traction
Slushplaning resistance
Hydroplaning resistance
Dry Handling & Braking
Wet Handling & Braking
Noise
Price/availability

Let these first guide you towards a tire that's available (including the possibility of having to source replacements - it's great to end up with a bargain, but if a "closeout" tire can't easily be sourced as replacement, that's a bit hairy, no? same goes for this season's best and greatest - if you're getting it shipped in from where Thor calls home, what happens when you pop a tire on a newly thawed-out pothole?) and at least reasonable in your sizing requirements (coming in within your desired ride-height variance and speedometer error, but also more importantly for us Ascent drivers the correct load rating).

Similarly, let your first decision point be the sub-genre of "winter" tire you require, be it just an aggressively winterized All-Season, an "All Weather," a "Performance Winter," a "Studless Ice & Snow" or a studdable winter tire (either with or without studs).

Having a 205 section width (necessitating concomitant increase in sidewall height in order to maintain overall diameter: i.e. "tall and skinny") "Performance Winter" may or may not be a plus as compared to a 225-section width studdable winter that you've decided to run studs on.

And while 17s will typically cost less than 18s and the taller sidewall can also get you a bit more rim protection, this needs to be considered in the context of the width of the wheels to which the tire is fitted, too - if you go too narrow for the width of the rims, it's gonna wind up less than ideal and also compromise rim protection. Similarly, taller sidewalls can also negatively impact handling/feel on clear roads (yes, you're buying a winter tire, but does that mean that the tire will never see any clear road use? either during the winter or during the transition seasons?). And regardless of your tire fitment, proper inflation is going to matter a heck of a lot in preventing tire/rim damage. To wit: many Subaru owners drive WRXs and WRX/STIs as well as Legacys - and there's plenty of folks there who are at the cusp of the 225/45 aspect-ratio - how many tales of dire tire/rim damage in the winter do we hear of from Forum communities such as NASIOC or LegacyGT.com? For most Ascent fitments that are OE sized or "minus one," rim protection should not be an issue provided that the tires are properly inflated.

One more consideration is that "more tire" will mean more unsprung weight, simply because there's more rubber, but that needs to be played against downsizing of the rims - a net savings is always nice, as unsprung weight is always the enemy (counterpoint: there's been some thinking that increasing wheel weight can lend a sense of subjective handling "certainty" in wintry conditions).

And I'll end this post with something that's been puzzling us winter tire hobbyists since we first read it back in the 2014-2015 winter season. Unfortunately, the first link is defunct, but the second one still works:

Continental Tires -Â*Summer-like drivability, but in wintry conditions.

and

Continental Tires -Â*High performance in tough conditions. With wide winter tires from Continental.

^ Of which I quote:


Tires are a compromise - sizing is, too.

-----

And the same goes for studs.

Here in North America, part of our problem is that while we've pretty much finally caught-up with our European counterparts in our appreciation for winter tires, we're not totally there, yet, because in large part of the less harsh conditions we in the lower-48 typically see during our winters.

To-date, our understanding of modern premium studded winter tires has yet to defy observations made by fellow enthusiasts in Germany (i.e. ADAC), Scandinavia (like the NAF), and Russia (AutoReview).


Convert those temperatures to our more familiar Fahrenheit scale, and you get:
  • approx. -2 deg. F.
  • approx. 9 deg. F.
  • approx. 23 deg. F.
  • 32 deg. F.
This data comes from 10 years ago - 2009 - at what was perhaps the height of the modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" (as we call it here in North America) versus modern premium studded winter (the term "studdable "is again unique to North America, as in most areas of the world where such tires are available, they are always used in studded format) fight. But to-date, there has yet to be data that suggests otherwise. In any case, speculation was that as temperatures dropped, the ice actually became hard enough that studs had trouble actually "chipping into" the surface - as a result, softer compounding as well as the micro structures that in-essence makes modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tire work actually only here really starts to exert a greater effect.

Even worse is the persistent myth that studded tires are somehow a deathtrap in the clear - particularly in the wet. This is an outdated notion that, for some reason, many tire enthusiasts in North America continue to propagate.

It's simply not true.

It hasn't been true for well close to two decades.

Actually, anyone who would suggest that modern premium studded winters are somehow unsafe in wet or otherwise clear conditions would need to make the same concession about modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires. Modern data simply demands this logic.

It's not the studs that's the problem. It's the base tire that's the problem.

Starting from as far back as a decade ago, we've seen in objective tests from Russian and European sources which demonstrated repeatedly that modern premium studded winter tires fare just as well - if not considerably better than - modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires where it comes to clear-road performance, both wet and dry. In-reality, it's actually only in the past five years that we've seen modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires really start to be able to put up a good fight versus modern premium studded winters (in, if nothing else, pure snow: reference the Swedish enthusiast magazine Vi Bilägare's 2018 studded tire review, in which the vaunted Hakka R3 was used as a cross-genre comparison contro).

The problem really comes in when we here in the United States, for example, use a low-tier, "old-tech" studded tire such as the Firestone Winterforce as the base of comparison, putting it up as competition to a premium modern "Studless Ice & Snow."

That's akin to having a 50-year-old white-collar pencil-pusher run a sprint versus an Olympic-level track-star. It just isn't fair (and from where I sit as a consumer, I would say that it's unethical for vendors/vested-interest sources to continue to do so). European, Nordic, and Russian enthusiasts have long stopped such comparisons, citing them as useless, as the conditions under which these two very different sub-types of tires are to be best employed are so vastly different that it makes their cross-comparisons a total joke.

Compounding that problem is that if you run a (any) studdable tire without studs, typically, you'll see a drastic reduction in ice/hardpack traction. Given that the many of the old-tech, lower-tier "studdable" winter tires that we see almost uniquely here in the North American market relies heavily on their studding to do the job in icy conditions, again, what we see is that it's actually more the problem that the tire itself is not great to start with, rather than anything else.

The difference between modern premium studded tires and modern premium "Studless Ice and Snow" tires, where it comes to ice traction, is just temperature.

However, road-legality concerns as well as personal NVH preferences mean that for the majority of North American drivers, "Studless Ice & Snow" tires are a better compromise.

------

Overall:

Look beyond subjective reviews.

Look for objectivity - look for hard numbers.

If anyone can find actual hard data (i.e. numbers) that claim other than what I've written here, I'd be glad to see it. ?

Pertinent past threads/posts:

http://legacygt.com/forums/showthread.php/stud-not-stud-tires-123392.html
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/1887785-post13.html
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/934408-post73.html
SB9T.com - View Single Post - New tires question
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/2933010-post82.html
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f72/snow-tires-new-pacific-northwest-snow-257282/

Yes, there's some "rules of thumb," but just how much of an impact they will make in real-world everyday driving has a lot to do with a multitude of other choices you make along with that selection of that specific tire. Flush out for yourself exactly why you want a certain tire: what you expect and need it to do - then work towards that aspect of the compromise.

Understand what your compromises are - that's what'll make you happy: not some mindless adherence to any "rules of thumb."

OK, for those of you whose eyes just glossed overo_O at TL: DNR -

Just buy a top-tier tire, and rest assured that you'll be OK through the vast majority of what Mother Nature will be able to throw at you this winter. :)

If you live where it's either more mild most of the time or if you can elect to simply not drive when it's bad out, a good "All-Weather" - or even a good "All Season" - truly may be all that you'll ever need.

If you live in a colder area and/or must prepare for some winter travel, a good "Performance Winter" will be a good bet if your area typically is either just cold and wet and/or sees reliable street grooming.

If you live in an area where the streets aren't as well plowed/treated, a good "Studless Ice & Snow" may then be a better bet - or, if legalities/NVH aren't an issue and the conditions more favorable (temperatures not terribly low - or simply the lack of sufficient traffic to allow icier surfaces to be "roughed up" enough for "Studless Ice & Snow" tires to perform optimally), a modern premium studded.

Let us tire-geeks worry benchrace the details. :geek:
I hereby award you your PhD for your thorough and very correct dissertation on tires.

All very good points, indeed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
576 Posts
I hereby award you your PhD for your thorough and very correct dissertation on tires.

All very good points, indeed.
:ROFLMAO::LOL:

No, no PhD - it's more like DVD or even VHS.

I'm just a tire geek. My understanding of things is really all very layman-level. I'd love to pick the brains of a winter-tire specialist at some point, given that I got to do so on the opposite end of the scale about 10 years back. So much of it would be so over my head (tire science is sooooooooooo complicated), but I could probably still geek-out a little.

What insight I have simply comes from having been in the game long enough to have seen the last two decade's worth of evolution (and having participated in it as a somewhat educated consumer for about three-quarters of that), and to have been lucky enough to have friends and fellow enthusiasts to exchange ideas with (particularly in terms of help with data originating from foreign sources).

Anyway, you can probably understand how excited I was when my daughter decided to do a tire-related science-fair project last year in 7th grade. She did her dad proud and got an award from the local SAE chapter. That made for an interesting picture, with hers and mine (from way back in high-school) juxtaposed. She thought it was very cool that we'd both gotten similar awards (mine was for lighting, which was a seed for a couple of my current hobbies), so many years apart. It was interesting to see where she took that project - about hydroplaning - with only minimal input from me.

Guess those early mornings watching F1 roostertails in the rain made an impression? :p
 
21 - 40 of 46 Posts
Top