Saturday, October 02, 2010

Best All Weather Tires for snowy condition

Winter will be upon us in less than 3 months and I wanted to find new tires for my SUV. Here is the information that I found on the net and compiled into this post:

Disclaimer: I am no car & driving expert. So remember this is just a compilation. Please do your own research before buying new tires.

Goal: Get the best All weather tires that will perform well on snowy road conditions.

Important: Remember, a winter tire will give you the best performance. PERIOD. An all-weather tire is designed to give you ADEQUATE performance in a variety of conditions and hence will definitely not perform as well as a similar winter rated tire. Check out this InsideLine article that reviews 3 tires from the same family/manufacturer.

My goal was to get an all-weather tire that would work well for the snow days that we get in Denver. As I don’t drive much in the mountains in the winter, I didn’t want the hassle of getting a separate set of winter tires that I would have to swap out once winter had passed.

Based on Consumer Reports ratings and recommendations, in my opinion, the best tire that gives very good performance on snow is the “Hankook Optimo H727”. (date: October 2nd, 2010).

Suggestion: There are some important nuances to the report on each tire by Consumer Reports. So if you are going to put down close to $400 (or more), I strongly suggest getting at least a month’s subscription to CR, as that will buy you access to the latest ratings and recommendations, as well as the full rating information.

What I Bought:

I havent yet bought one. I will be looking at online sites and local stores to find out which of the above tires will work for my SUV as well as my wallet and will update this post based on what I find out. (Updates will be posted with the date next to them: ex: [10-02-2010] This is a sample update.)

[10-17-2010] – Tire has been bought. See below for more details.

Hankook Optimo H727
Consumer Reports score: 82.
Recommended by Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports Report Card 

Dry braking: Very Good Wet braking: Very Good Handling: Good
Hydroplaning: Very Good Snow traction: Very Good Ice braking: Very Good
Ride comfort: Very Good Noise: Very Good Rolling resistance: Good

More info:
Consumer Search

Other Tires for which I found good recommendations on the Internet:

Goodyear Assurance TripleTred
Consumer Reports score: 80

continental_tireRecommended by Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports Report Card

Dry braking: Very Good Wet braking: Very Good Handling: Good
Hydroplaning: Very Good Snow traction: Good Ice braking: Good
Ride comfort: Good Noise: Very Good Rolling resistance: Good

More info:
Consumer Search
Tire Rack – 2467 reviews when I last checked: Tire Rack customer reviews

Continental ExtremeContact DWS

The DWS stands for “Dry,Wet,Snow” and it is important if you plan on buying this brand of tires, as the ExtremeContact is available in other configurations (D and DW). Depending on which review you look at, this tire comes in, in the top 3 of many of the reviews.

More info:
Edmunds InsideLine
Consumer Search
Tire rack review: Tire Rack review of all weather performance tires

Truck –All Weather Tire

The one thing that struck me as odd is that the highest rated tire in this category only has a score of 80 and only 2 tires got the CR seal of approval. I would have thought that SUVs that are supposed to be more extreme machines than the passenger car would have better tires for snowy conditions. The other thing that I learnt about, not all tires available in the car class are available for SUVs (could not find Hankook Optimo 727 in a size 225/60/16). So I had to begin searching in the SUV category of reviews and reports on the web.)

general Reviews of SUV All Weather tires.

So although, the Michelin LTX M/S was not a Consumer Reports recommended tire (getting only a score of 67), but based on the report card, I think that it would be the best tire for snowy conditions (getting an excellent and very good rating for snow traction and ice-breaking respectively). A bonus about these tires is the high tread-life warranty that Michelin gives on its tires. (But as you can see, these tires don’t do all that well in the dry and wet breaking areas, but I am more concerned about the snow and don’t mind going slower when the sun is out).

Dry braking: Good Wet braking: Fair Handling: Good
Hydroplaning: Excellent Snow traction: Excellent Ice braking: Very Good
Ride comfort: Good Noise: Good Rolling resistance: Good

And for the record the Consumer Reports recommended tires in this category were: General Grabber HTS and Continental CrossContact LX (getting a score of 80 and 73 respectively). But both these got only a Good and Fair rating for snow traction and ice-breaking respectively. (link)

According to ConsumerSearch, the General Grabber HTS is a good tire and it performs very well even on snow and ice (with just one reviewer saying that it didn’t do well on snow/ice). So I will be checking out the General Grabber too, as it is almost $50 cheaper per tire than the Michellin’s).

TireRack test of 3 tires where the General Grabber did well: The other 2 tires that they recommended were the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza and the Pirelli Scorpion STR.

[10-17-2010] Bought a set of the General Grabber HTS tires from the local Discount Tire shop. I looked at the Michelin LTX, but didn’t find a 225/70-16. The Michelin’s are a lot more expensive (about $190 per tire). The General Grabber HTSs were $115 per tire. I then paid $10 to sipe each tire and another $16 for warranty. All in all, I was setback close to $675 on this purchase. There were 2 reasons I picked DiscountTire: 1. They were open on a saturday and 2. Their price although a little more than TireRack’s price, was going to be almost a wash when I took into account TireRack’s cheapest shipping price. In addition, DiscountTire will give me a life-time of rotation and balancing on the tires. I havent yet had a chance to try the tires out on a long drive, will update based on my driving experiences in different weathers and road conditions.

[10-17-2010] : Wear Bars

One thing that I learnt today was how to determine if the tire is close to the end of its tread-life. You have probably heard of the penny test. If you place a penny up-side down, then the tread should be above Lincoln’s head.
images wear_bars
But, there is an easier way: tire manufactures have been adding a feature called the “Wear-Bar”. They are small rubber bars placed between the treads at different locations on the tire. They are made with the exact height that the penny test measures. When the tread almost gets to the same height as the tread-bar, the tires are ready to be replaced.

[11-01-2010] : Highway driving – Dry Weather

I cant be very sure about this, but it feels like the General Grabbers are quieter then the original tires that came with the car. Also, I didn’t feel any vibrations through the steering column. So in dry weather – these tires handled well. My old tires must have been truly close to their end of life as the one thing that I do know for sure is that when I am turning, the new tires definitely feel like they are gripping the road a lot better. (the old tires used to squeal even on 30mph turns).

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