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Thread: Winter Tires
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:15 AM   #8
JonathanGennick
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Location: Munising, MI
What I Drive: 2013 Race Red Focus SE

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Originally Posted by primetime View Post
1. What brand or type would you guys recommend or are using right now? Studded or just plain rubber?
My experience is almost entirely with Blizzaks. They perform well, especially when new. They wear fast. They tend not to track as nicely on pavement as all-season tires do, but that's to be expected from the chunky tread design. Blizzaks have a layer of especially sticky rubber that wears away when the tires are about half used up. At that point, you must decide whether to endure another season without that layer, or to replace the tires earlier than you would otherwise do. Good tires though. I am running a set this winter on my van.

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2. Do you have dedicated wheels for winter tires? Would cheap steel or aluminum wheels do?
I've been having my tires swapped on both vehicles for years. This winter though, I plan to buy a second set of rims for my Focus. I'll go steel because I need to hold down costs. I might even minus-size, also to hold costs: My SE has 16" wheels. I might go with the 15" size that is stock on the Focus S model. Doing so saves enough on the tires to almost pay for the steel rims.

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3. Does having winter tires affect fuel mileage?
The safety benefit from snow tires is so great for me that mileage does not even begin to factor into the equation. Higher rolling resistance though. I would expect lower mileage.

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4. Would it be a better deal to just wait until after winter to get good deals on winter tires? (I'd just have to suck it up for a few months with my all seasons.
After years of mistakenly believing that all-seasons really were for all seasons, I bought a set of snows. Huge, freakin', amazing, life-changing difference. All I can say here is that I wish I had known years earlier how much better they made winter driving.

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5. Do you do installation yourself or do you get it done at a shop? Balancing is done when the shop installs new tires right?
Shop. And yes, they balance.

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6. Any other thing that comes to mind regarding winter tires?
Buy some. I'm a believer. I recommend them. If you don't get much actual snow, there is still benefit from the rubber compound. But you can look at a tread more suitable to just cold pavement--the Nokian Hakka R, for example.

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P.S. It would be appreciated if you guys also describe the type of winter you experience where you are.
I live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, just a few blocks uphill from Lake Superior. I'm in one of two notable snow belts in this region. Winter often begins with several weeks of frequent, lake-effect snow. Plowing is decent, but roads are still often covered with a layer of hard-packed snow. It just depends upon the weather of the moment, but it's not unusual for me to go for days, even a week or more, without seeing much in the way of pavement. Winter tires were a revelation to me when I first tried them after moving up here, and I have run them every winter since that first one.

Sounds like you get less snow, and more in the way of just cold and rain.
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