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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First driving impressions on snow and ice yesterday. The tires definitely aren't cut out for icy conditions.. At all. We got to experience two conditions on 11/21. A little snow (30F) which was icy below and proved to be a little greasy heading into where we watch football. Steering and stopping were greatly reduced. The ABS kicked in almost immediately. On the way home, the temp had dropped and a few inches had fallen. The tires did better in snow. I'll get to play more when we get some real snow. It's hard to assess the capabilities of an AWD system when the tires are the weak link. Such was also the case with our Ridgelines, although the stock tire on them appears to have been a little better in similar conditions.

This morning here is 17F. Snow has fallen overnight and our subdivision roads are covered. Chill factor is between zero and 10F. Once winter sets in here, neighborhood roads seldom see pavement again until spring. The weather stats show about 14 inches have fallen here this year. In 2014, we had 46" by now. You just never know UP here :)
 

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This comes as no surprise...the material compounds used for run of the mill "all season" tires are not really up to very low temperatures and slippery conditions. If you live in an area that "features" a lot of low temps, then you'll want to consider winter capable tires, either actual winter tires for that season or one of the new "All Weather" tires that do perform reasonably well at lower temps.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This comes as no surprise...the material compounds used for run of the mill "all season" tires are not really up to very low temperatures and slippery conditions. If you live in an area that "features" a lot of low temps, then you'll want to consider winter capable tires, either actual winter tires for that season or one of the new "All Weather" tires that do perform reasonably well at lower temps.
I agree completely. My point all along was that maybe they could have done a little better with the OEM tire. The Michelin tire and the Firestone tire on the RLs were a step up the ladder

My opinion is greatly influenced by over 50 years of driving here (over 1.5 million miles to date...hoping for a lot more :)) and switching over to dedicated snow tires in 1994. That was a light bulb moment for me. Enough so that in our 09 RL, I got rid of the Michelin LTX tires on 12/10/12 at 33K miles for winter use and put a set of Blizzaks on. I never thought they were great in the winters here, but I did get two winters out of them. I think there was 6 or 7/32nds when I put them on the shelf for winter use. Our FWD Lacrosse with two year old Blizzaks could run circles around the AWD Honda truck for steering and stopping. It was actually dangerous to have two such unmatched vehicles that we both drove.

I'm a bit between a rock and a hard place with these tires as we leave here on 1/2 until ususally mid May. I'll probably just be very careful until then and 'experiment' within the parameters of the tire. Unfortunately, a friend sold his 4K mile Blizzak tire / wheel package two weeks before I knew I was getting the Ascent. They went for $700. I would of gladly taken them off his hands. I thought he got rid of the package last spring when he traded his Ascent for a G80 AWD ...which he also bought a winter package for. He stays here all winter.

I will give the all weather tires a good look next year if I'm not happy with the Falkens. It is expensive to have two sets. I've done it both ways: tire/wheel package and flop them out myself....or just the tires and pay to have it done twice a year.
 

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Agreed - the factory Falkens are quite...er....sporting 😅 , when there's ice on the roadway.....

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For those who see ice routinely, I favor either "Studless Ice and Snow" or outright studded winters, based on typical winter temperatures and legality (both equally important).

If it's cold enough in that particular locale, typically, studded tires will be allowed: however, in some areas (this is not aimed at @Steve70 , but rather, readers who are not as well-versed in winter weather driving), the window of time during which studded tires are allowed can be significantly shorter than the window of potential wintry weather. Typically, no enforcement action is taken -certainly not during storms- but it can be a worry particularly for those whose yearly municipal/state vehicle inspections fall within those periods.

Even with today's tire technology, at temperatures closer to the freezing point, tests still show studded tires to offer significantly more traction on icy surfaces. Where temperatures are higher (closer to freezing), premium modern studded tires consistently perform better, while modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires start to reverse that trend at approx. 9 deg. F. (-13 deg. C.). By the time roadway temperatures reach 0 deg. F. (-18 deg C.), the ice surface has become so cold that studs can no longer effectively "chip in" to enhance traction, and modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tires start to really shine. Russian enthusiasts were among the first to report this data well over a decade ago ( https://www.zr.ru/content/articles/16906-test_shipy_i_lipuchki_na_ldu_kazus_gradusa/ ), and soon after, European and Scandinavian tests actually stopped cross-comparing these two winter tire sub-genres, noting clear advantages of either as based on such conditions. Instead, now, we see a clear division in those winter tire tests, completely separating the testing of studded winters with "Studless Ice and Snows." [ A more comprehensive discussion in this past thread: Studded snow tires or Blizzaks? ]

Users of modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires shouldn't feel somehow ashamed that their tires don't carry metal spikes - and similarly, modern premium studded winter tire users should also not feel ashamed that their tires do. :) It's all about seeking that edge in performance based on actual conditions.

One final thing to note is that modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tires do rely on typically more wear-prone, "softer" compounds - either as a specialized top-layer of a dual-layer compounding strategy or through-and-through. This means not only generalized lower treadlife, but also a not insignificant decrease in performance (read: reduction of the safety envelope) in clear-dry and clear-wet conditions (where, in spite of cold temperatures -even below-freezing ambient temperatures - there is no frozen precipitation on the roadway) as compared to all other tires (of similar quality), be they "All Seasons," "All Weather," "Performance Winter," or studdable winter tires. There's compromises, always. :)

[ More reading for those interested - dedicated winter tire versus snow rated all terrain and How much of a difference will winter tires make on cold... ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Agreed - the factory Falkens are quite...er....sporting 😅 , when there's ice on the roadway.....

-----

For those who see ice routinely, I favor either "Studless Ice and Snow" or outright studded winters, based on typical winter temperatures and legality (both equally important).

If it's cold enough in that particular locale, typically, studded tires will be allowed: however, in some areas (this is not aimed at @Steve70 , but rather, readers who are not as well-versed in winter weather driving), the window of time during which studded tires are allowed can be significantly shorter than the window of potential wintry weather. Typically, no enforcement action is taken -certainly not during storms- but it can be a worry particularly for those whose yearly municipal/state vehicle inspections fall within those periods.

Even with today's tire technology, at temperatures closer to the freezing point, tests still show studded tires to offer significantly more traction on icy surfaces. Where temperatures are higher (closer to freezing), premium modern studded tires consistently perform better, while modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires start to reverse that trend at approx. 9 deg. F. (-13 deg. C.). By the time roadway temperatures reach 0 deg. F. (-18 deg C.), the ice surface has become so cold that studs can no longer effectively "chip in" to enhance traction, and modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tires start to really shine. Russian enthusiasts were among the first to report this data well over a decade ago ( https://www.zr.ru/content/articles/16906-test_shipy_i_lipuchki_na_ldu_kazus_gradusa/ ), and soon after, European and Scandinavian tests actually stopped cross-comparing these two winter tire sub-genres, noting clear advantages of either as based on such conditions. Instead, now, we see a clear division in those winter tire tests, completely separating the testing of studded winters with "Studless Ice and Snows." [ A more comprehensive discussion in this past thread: Studded snow tires or Blizzaks? ]

Users of modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires shouldn't feel somehow ashamed that their tires don't carry metal spikes - and similarly, modern premium studded winter tire users should also not feel ashamed that their tires do. :) It's all about seeking that edge in performance based on actual conditions.

One final thing to note is that modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tires do rely on typically more wear-prone, "softer" compounds - either as a specialized top-layer of a dual-layer compounding strategy or through-and-through. This means not only generalized lower treadlife, but also a not insignificant decrease in performance (read: reduction of the safety envelope) in clear-dry and clear-wet conditions (where, in spite of cold temperatures -even below-freezing ambient temperatures - there is no frozen precipitation on the roadway) as compared to all other tires (of similar quality), be they "All Seasons," "All Weather," "Performance Winter," or studdable winter tires. There's compromises, always. :)

[ More reading for those interested - dedicated winter tire versus snow rated all terrain and How much of a difference will winter tires make on cold... ]
Good info. Very true. Unless one lives and drives where the sun always shines, there is no perfect tire

Studs are illegal in MI. Everyone used them here back in the 60s and 70s. They do chew up paved roads. I'm good with sacrificing whatever edge they may have for that reason alone. While neighborhood streets usually remain snow covered for the winter, the highways are well plowed and heavily salted. A few days after any storm, as in 18 to 24 plus inches, the main highways are typically bare again making studs a very expensive choice for road degradation.


Where is "here" out of curiosity?
Just west of the center of the UP of MI.
 

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Studs are illegal in MI.
I was going to mention that this is true in a lot of jurisdictions at this point due to road damage and "time limited" via dates in other areas. My dad ran studded snows "back in the day" as he was an insurance agent and necessarily was out and about selling in any kind of weather...and we lived in a rural area of NE PA. Of course, all tires were a lot different back then, too!
 
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Unless one lives and drives where the sun always shines, there is no perfect tire
My parents are in Atlanta, Georgia. Their roads are gloriously smooth...and the reflectors in the lane dividers, wow..... :)

My dad thought his car was gonna rattle apart, their first time visiting us. :ROFLMAO: We're just outside Cleveland, Ohio.

While neighborhood streets usually remain snow covered for the winter, the highways are well plowed and heavily salted. A few days after any storm, as in 18 to 24 plus inches, the main highways are typically bare again....
(y)

One local weather forecaster made the observation the other day when we were expecting a few inches of the white and fluffy stuff that if it were to fall (which it didn't), that the forecasted possibility of 5 to 7 inches would fall in the areas where municipal crews have the capability to clear that much snow per hour, so that it was not going to be a big deal.

This aligns perfectly with what you'd written, and I think it's often not realized by those who don't live "where we do" - they don't understand that unless it's truly a blizzard or just a very rapid yet continuous downfall over the course of literally days, for the most part, our roadways are actually clear. For much of the country that live in warmer areas where snowfall is rare and icy roadways means absolute pandemonium, the mental image of anyone who "lives up north" is that their roads are covered in permafrost, always. :ROFLMAO:

Studs are illegal in MI. Everyone used them here back in the 60s and 70s. They do chew up paved roads. I'm good with sacrificing whatever edge they may have for that reason alone.
and

I was going to mention that this is true in a lot of jurisdictions at this point due to road damage and "time limited" via dates in other areas.
Absolutely agreed with regard to roadway damage - but I did want to use this as a springboard to point out one important thing.....

Although this is a perfectly acceptable (and morally commendable!) reason for drivers to select against studded winter tires, we should -as a matter of academic debate (uh...internet Forum banter is more like it! 😅😬)- remove this consideration from the discussion of the performance of these winter tires.

My dad ran studded snows "back in the day" as he was an insurance agent and necessarily was out and about selling in any kind of weather...and we lived in a rural area of NE PA. Of course, all tires were a lot different back then, too!
Yup. It's nothing like what our grandparents or parents used....and barely what was used even just a scant 30 years ago. The last 20 years have really seen tremendous improvements in tire technology.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
One local weather forecaster made the observation the other day when we were expecting a few inches of the white and fluffy stuff that if it were to fall (which it didn't), that the forecasted possibility of 5 to 7 inches would fall in the areas where municipal crews have the capability to clear that much snow per hour, so that it was not going to be a big deal.
We have very good friends in Massillon and have attended the twin festival in Twinsburg since 2004

Far be it for me to question your local forecaster and that municipal crews have the ability to remove 5-7 inches per hour. Perhaps it's a very small area? Around here, it's said that our plows have the ability to keep up with an inch an hour for just the main roads and highways. Neighborhoods could go a while to get more than one pass within 24 hours. Everyone here has AWD/4WDs these days. A foot of snow doesn't even warrant conversation. Here's a pic of one of our county plows and a couple more. Our current house just a few years ago after a storm around the 3rd week of April. The other is our old house and me around 1996 or 97. I think we got 320 inches that year...a record for here, but not for the UP. Further north in the Keewenaw they were close to 400 inches I believe. The snow blower was my old trusty 1236 Ariens. That thing would honk some snow! I was a young man of 44 or 45 back then :)



Vehicle Automotive tire Sky Snow Slope
Sky Snow Building Window House
Snow Car Tire Vehicle Wheel
 

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I think in your geography, if I had to live there, I'd have dedicated winter tires....
 
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I typically get a winter or two on OEM tires before getting rid of them. Figured the Falkens weren't all that great. Nothing beats the RE92s which were OEM Subaru tire of choice for their performance offerings a decade or more ago; they were universally panned for extremely poor winter performance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think in your geography, if I had to live there, I'd have dedicated winter tires....
I did include a couple of dandies, but this is non mountainous snow country.

I think there are still many that live where I do that just run the tires the cars come with.. All brands. Snow tires have made good inroads here though. Unless you have run snow tires you have no frame of reference to judge by... But once you do it's not hard to find fault with all season tires in winter

Our situation is different from many. My wife retired from teaching in 2001 after 30 years. I pulled the pin in 2/2007. We don't have to go or be anywhere if things are bad. While we can get some good snow in October, typically from November on is when it starts more steadily. We basically have about 8 weeks of winter these days before heading out. Probably 100-120." The Destination LE2s on our Ridgeline were bad enough at 27K miles that I bought Viking Contact 7 wheel/tire package in 12/19. They have about 5 months total time on them and 1/32nd of wear. The tranny in the RL let us down. I'm going to Carvanna it when fixed. That wheel /tire package will cost us unless a G3 Ridgeline comes along we like.

For now, we're very happy to be in the Ascent. My wife has bonded well with it and so have I. Let the new journey begin!

For reference.. The older picture above with me in it: I'm just under 6' 2" back then. Just over 6' 1" now. The life cycle marches on 😊
 

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I did include a couple of dandies, but this is non mountainous snow country.
It's more about temperatures than snow accumulation. True winter tires stay flexible and grippy at colder temps than even good 3-peaks All Weather tires, and much, much better than All Weather tires like the OEM shoes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's more about temperatures than snow accumulation. True winter tires stay flexible and grippy at colder temps than even good 3-peaks All Weather tires, and much, much better than All Weather tires like the OEM shoes.
It's about all of it. Rubber compound, tread design/depth, siping ability, and probably more. Blizzak first came out with some sand in the top 1/3 of the tread. That's when they were said to be most effective, but I've had several sets of them and can attest to their snow viability well past the 1/3rd mark

I think the special siping has much to do with snow traction in deep snow. The softer compound a lot to do with improved performance on ice
 

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^ Yup.

Tire engineers suggest that on ice, its 2/3 compound and 1/3 architecture. That ratio is reversed in powder, where the advantage goes to tread design and, quite simply, tread depth. Slushplane resistance seems to be its own thing, and has puzzled even both the Russians and Scandinavians....so that says a lot, to me!

Your post on the early Bridgestone Studiess Ice & Snows definitely goes down memory lane - that's before my time! Until even just the previous generation generation, Bridgestone's WS80-type "Blizzak" Studiess Ice & Snows (of which the popular SUV/LT-fitment DM-V2s are a subset of) still used their proprietary "Multicell Compounding" through to about the 6/32" mark - aka "half depth." It really wasn't until just the 2018-19 winter season that, with the WS90-type tires that they went for "full depth" compounding features.

My daughter will turn 16 this winter and will be passed-down her grandmother's off-lease '19 Legacy 2.5i Limited, which has been shod with the WS90s. I'm eager to get in a bit more wheel time with that setup.

At just 4k miles, I'm already within a hair of the 6/32" mark on my DM-V2s: the warmer winters we've had lately, combined with my rather harsh driving style really has chewed through these tires a bit too quickly. We have a winter trip planned for Chicago as well as another planned for the DC-area, and I'm on the fence about getting a new set of winters, or just popping on the still-pretty-new severe-service rated Falken A/Ts I got this summer.......


We have very good friends in Massillon and have attended the twin festival in Twinsburg since 2004.
We're in Shaker Heights - practically a stone's throw from Twinsburg. :)

Far be it for me to question your local forecaster and that municipal crews have the ability to remove 5-7 inches per hour. Perhaps it's a very small area?
Correct, small area - it's the more dollar-rich municipalities. Here, you can literally go from cleared and treated roadways in one township or village to 3+ inches of uncleared slush-slop as soon as you pass a "Thank You for Visiting XYZ, See You Soon!" sign on the side of the road. It's made for interesting times when the wifey and I had lower-riding vehicles. :ROFLMAO:

I'm actually not sure what ODOT is capable of handling....

I love your pictures and your backstory. I love snow: I didn't get to play in any for the first 11 years of my life, so I'm still making up for it. :love:
 

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Nice title, OP.

As a new Ascent owner I was bummed to read the OP’s post, but not surprised. The tires that came on my 2019 Forester were the worst tires I’ve ever driven in winter, but I was hoping those on the Ascent might be a bit better. For cars lauded as snow machines, I find it strange that this is how they come equipped in regions with up to 6 months of snow.

From what I’ve read here, sounds like the Geolandars or such are a good compromise if you want to run one tire all year? I was planning to buy winter wheels and tires but all the wheels I had in my cart are now “sold out for the season”.
 

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I think the special siping has much to do with snow traction in deep snow.
Sipping is "everything" for snow traction...a lot of folks think that the deep tread of a tire is what does the work in snow, but alas, it's actually the little, narrow sipes that provide the grip. The best winter focused tires have those sipes full depth so that they maintain their grip as the tire wears beyond about half way...a point that some tires lose the sipes entirely.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It's 6F here today. It got into the mid 20s by mid afternoon yesterday. After a day out shopping yesterday, my wife did remark last night how quickly the tires lost grip. Of course, I had repeatedly told her to be careful...that she was driving on a lesser tire than we've been used to. Steering and stopping are the main attributes for safety IMO. That's what will keep you alive

For a direct comparison: the Michelin Primacy MXM4 that was the stock rubber on our 300S AWD in 2017 were much better than these...and that's a big family sedan. In the three years we had it, I never felt the need from a safety standpoint to change the tires for the roughly 8 weeks of winter we see.

That ties into my position that Subaru could easily have done a tad better...especially given their chops in the AWD arena.
 

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Sipping is "everything" for snow traction...a lot of folks think that the deep tread of a tire is what does the work in snow, but alas, it's actually the little, narrow sipes that provide the grip. The best winter focused tires have those sipes full depth so that they maintain their grip as the tire wears beyond about half way...a point that some tires lose the sipes entirely.
^ To-add -

Winter sips are specifically designed to hold on to snow rather than to self-clear (as with an A/T, M/T, or R/T tire) - looking at the design of the siping/voids, this makes inherent sense.

I wrote about this briefly on another thread about 3 weeks ago:


There are actually a number of A/Ts with severe service rating: for example, some of the most common fitments of the popular Fallen Wildpeak A/T bear the "Snowflake on the Mountain" 3PMS symbol on their sidewall. In the true off-road side of the equation, while I am much less well-versed there, my layman's understanding is that in-actuality, both "All Terrain" (A/T) and "Rough/Rugged Terrain" (R/T) tires will not infrequently be able to garner severe service rating, while "Mud Terrains" rarely will.

Winter traction -just as traction in any other circumstances- is about both physical architecture as well as compounding. Traditionally, tire engineers have maintained that for fresh powder and slushplane resistance, 2/3 of the job is that of tread design. That 2/3 vs. 1/3 balance-of-power shifts to compounding and "micro"-features of the tire, when the surfaces involved is ice or hardpack.

Empirically, we can see this play out in the way even older, previous-generation winter tires manage to still be within the meat of the bell-curve where it comes to performance in fresh snow and on roadways covered in slush. Usually, high-void directional patterns tend to do very well, and we continue to see this both in end-user testimonials of the classics like the old version General Altimax Arctic, which shares the same tread pattern as the long-since discontinued Gislaved Nordfrost 3. Similarly, the shortcomings of these older tires -when compared against their newer counterparts- on ice and hardpack in similar comparison tests can readily be attributed to the continued refinement of those parts of the tread pattern we can't really see, as well as the increasingly more sophisticated compounding that's used in modern winter tires.

An A/T tire has to be strong enough to hold up to the physical needs of off-roading, so neither its compounding nor tread architecture will be optimized for traction in wintry precipitation in the way that a "comparably rugged appearing" winter tire (typically, this would most likely be a "Studless Ice and Snow" or a studdable winter) will be. Similarly, that comparable winter tire's tread design won't give it optimal traction in more typical off-road conditions, either. Those small and tremendously zig-zagged sipes that allow winter tires their "bite" into snow? it's actually designed to retain snow so as to enhance snow traction - this versus the typical R/T, A/T, or even more exceptionally, the M/T tire's need to "self-clear" void areas of mud and dirt (the tighter the void, the higher the rotational speed must be to effect self-clearing - thus, the sipes bite the snow, the voids clear slush).
 
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