Originally Posted by JonathanGennick
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shop. And yes, they balance.
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.
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.
Jonathan, I used to live in the UP in the sticks in Houghton County and we would get massive lake effect snows like you probably do in Munising. One notable year I was there, we accumulated 391 inches of snowfall. A few years ago my daughter started attending NMU in Marquette. When I would visit in the winter it seemed like the road crews were a bit slow in clearing the roads (no doubt due to recession budget cuts) and you would get packed down snow that would turn to ice. Winter tires are a must up there I think. I cannot wait for it to snow down here in SE MI to try the new Blizzak WS-70s on my Focus which are surprisingly civilized on dry and rainy roads. I get a bit more road noise with them than my stock 18" tires but not much. At one time, a few cars back, I had Green Diamond winter tires
. These tires use silicium carbide particles embedded in the tread for traction. They were covered up when new but as they wore down the carbide particles were exposed to provide traction. They worked very well on ice and snow.