Official Winter Tires Thread: Please post any winter questions here! - Ford Focus Forum, Ford Focus ST Forum
Ford Focus Forum
HomeContact UsAbout UsGalleryDiscussion ForumsMarketplace


Go Back   Ford Focus Forum, Ford Focus ST Forum > Ford Focus Tech Discussions > Wheels & Tires - Sponsored By Tire Rack

Wheels & Tires - Sponsored By Tire Rack The place to go for answers on wheel types, tire sizes, offset, wheel patterns and more.
Sponsored By:
Tire Rack


Search This Forum | Image Search | Advanced Search    
Ford Focus Tire & Wheels FocusFanatics Merchandise

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-12-2011, 03:18 PM   #1
miles@tirerack.com
Focus Enthusiast
 
miles@tirerack.com's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Fan#: 85510
Posts: 190
FF Reputation: 3 miles@tirerack.com Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
Official Winter Tires Thread: Please post any winter questions here!

So, first off let's learn or relearn the facts about winter tires.

How do winter tires work?

Here are a few pictures to illustrate the mechanics involved in winter traction.

If you look closely at a road surface you can tell that it is really not that smooth as represented by the model in this picture:



With the high grip rubber compound used in your summer performance tires the contact area conforms to the irregular surface of the road:



That amount of contact can generate a tremendous amount of traction in the summer time but what if the road in snow covered?

That brings us to the question, what makes a tire a good winter tire? The answer is a three part puzzle and without all three parts traction will be compromised.

Let's look at the first part of the puzzle; tread design.

This picture shows a winter tire tread design which, as you can clearly see, utilizes a large number of sipes:



When the road gets snow covered the tire is no longer able to conform to the surface.



The siping allows the tread elements to flex under stress create aggressive "biting edges" when braking, cornering or accelerating.



Part two of our three piece traction puzzle is tread depth.

While deep snow and ice-covered roads are two of the most challenging conditions North American drivers will face, tire developments during the last decade have noticeably advanced wintertime mobility. The technological revolution of dedicated winter tires for drivers in the snowbelt, and the continuing evolution of all-season tires for drivers living on its periphery characteristically offer more grip in snow and on ice than ever before.

However the basics of delivering traction and handling in snow and on ice remain unchanged. Tires must combine three fundamental features to deliver good wintertime performance, including an appropriate tread design, pliable tread compound and sufficient tread depth. If any one of these fundamental features is absent then the other two, regardless of their ability, cannot deliver the desired results. Since engineers can develop cutting-edge tread designs and chemists can develop advanced rubber compounds, it is often the remaining tread depth that is the variable in determining wintertime performance.

In most parts of the world, tires are considered to be legally worn out when they reach "2/32" (approximately 1.6mm) of remaining tread depth. U.S. law requires tires to have easy-to-see Tread Wear Indicator bars running from one side of their tread design to the other when the tire's tread has worn down to the minimum legal limit of 2/32 inch.

However in spite of the legal minimums, Tire Rack recommends that drivers expecting to experience wet conditions consider replacing their tires when they reach 4/32" of remaining tread depth. Tire Rack's tests have shown how shallow treads reduce wet braking traction and increase stopping distances. (See this video).

Tire Rack also recommends that drivers expecting to encounter snow-covered roads consider replacing their tires when they reach approximately 6/32" of remaining tread depth to maintain good mobility. Tires need more tread depth in wintry conditions to compress snow in their grooves and release it as they roll. If there isn't sufficient tread depth, the "bites" of snow that can be processed on each tire revolution will be reduced to "nibbles," and the vehicle's traction and mobility in snow will be reduced.



The third and final part of the puzzle is the rubber compound used. Rubber compounds vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer but, the task is the same so, you will see similarities between the products. They all typically use compounds which utilize materials designed to remain flexible at cold temps in addition to traction enhancements from silica and other materials which add more bite on ice.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Now, for the next step ... types of winter tires

There are basically three different types of winter tires

#1.) Performance Winter

You want enhanced dry road handling from your winter tires and are willing to trade some snow and ice traction to get it.

Meeting severe snow service requirements and branded with the "Snowflake-on-the-Mountain" symbol, these are higher speed rated tires that are designed to suit winter driving on European highways. They are available in many of the low profile sizes used as Original Equipment on sporty imported and domestic cars. Due to their unique designs these tires must be installed in sets of four.

#2.) Studless Ice and Snow

You want to maximize snow and ice traction from your winter tires without the inconvenience of using winter tire studs.

Meeting severe snow service requirements and branded with the "Snowflake-on-the-Mountain" symbol, these tires feature the latest in tread compound technology to provide winter traction without the inconvenience of tire studs. They trade a little handling for excellent ice and snow traction. Due to their unique tread compounds these tires must be installed in sets of four.

#3.) Studdable Winter

You want the traditional security of studded winter tires for enhanced traction on ice.

Meeting severe snow service requirements and branded with the "Snowflake-on-the-Mountain" symbol, these tires feature traditional snow tire tread compounds and studdable tread designs for good snow and ice traction. Due to their unique designs these tires must be used in sets of four. Use of studded tires is often prohibited or restricted. Check with local authorities to confirm legality. Keep in mind that these can be used without studs if desired.

But Do I Really Need Winter Tires?

The primary concern that our customers express is that they don't want to get "stuck" in the snow (or in the ditch) during the winter.

While in cities like Atlantic City, Memphis and Seattle located at the edge of the snow belt, relatively new All-Season tires will probably work just fine. But the odds change as you move further into the snow belt or the All-Season tires have a few years of wear on them. And who wants to gamble...especially when their collision deductible and future insurance premiums are on the table.

We all know that tires are a compromise. One tire can't be the fastest on the track, most controllable in the snow, and longest wearing. The Ultra High Performance tire that grips the track with tread temperatures of 200 is incompetent as its tread compound becomes like "hard plastic" at below 32. Today's 80,000-mile tires require tread designs and compounds that maximize long, even wear... not winter traction. And while many of today's all-season tires (Original Equipment, touring and performance) address some of these issues, they still emphasize longer wear, a quieter ride or greater performance...not winter traction.

Only winter tires are designed to excel in the colder temperatures, slush, snow and ice that many parts of the country experience for three or more months a year.

It's also important to note that the recent advancements in electronic driver aids, such as ABS and traction control don't provide more traction. They only help prevent drivers from over braking or overpowering the available traction of their tires. The only thing the driver can do to increase traction...to actually get more grip and control... is install better tires.

As in the past, there are 'general use' recommended packages for each model car to be found at our Winter category but, if you would like to discuss other options for your specific need please don't hesitate to give me a call at 800-428-8355 ext. 788 or drop me an e-mail.

You can also post in this thread but please supply the following information ....

Year:
Make:
Model:
Location:
Tires only or winter package:

and I will respond directly to your post.

I will also be adding to this thread periodically so check back often.

Links to use to get the forum credit for your order:
- Tires
- Wheels
- Winter
- Brakes
- Suspension


__________________
Refer to 'Miles/FocusFanatics' as your previous contact when you order online. You can also credit the forum by ordering through any Tire Rack link.

Last edited by miles@tirerack.com; 09-15-2011 at 03:12 PM.
miles@tirerack.com is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 09-12-2011, 08:39 PM   #2
DarkSpork
Focus Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Fan#: 81461
Location: Central Coast, CA
What I Drive: 2013 VW GTI

Posts: 224
FF Reputation: 1 DarkSpork Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
I just wanted to post to say the tires make a huge difference. I bought a winter tire/rim package through the Tire Rack and it cost about $600 shipped. Well worth it. I bought the winter set shortly after I bought the car so I can't honestly say how many accidents it's helped me avoid, but just about any car is safer with winter tires than without it if you live in a wintry climate. All tires have their limitations, regardless of conditions, but stopping, steering, and starting is better with the right tires.

Best part, after a winter of usage the tread still looks almost new. Plus, my all seasons don't show much wear.

Year: 2006
Make: Ford
Model: Focus SES
Location: North Dakota, USA
Tires only or winter package: Package (15" steel rims with 195/60-15 Continental ExtremeWinterContact tires)
DarkSpork is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-12-2011, 08:57 PM   #3
2011 SE
Focus Addict
 
2011 SE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Fan#: 80951
Location: Haverhill, MA
What I Drive: 2011 SE

Posts: 1,174
FF Reputation: 8 2011 SE Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (2)
Year: 2011
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
Tires only

I purchased my car late last year (end of November), and made it through the winter just fine with the stock 15" wheels (all season tires), ABS, traction control, and my manual transmission. Over the summer I bought some 17" OEM wheels, and plan on making the stock 15" wheels my "winter" set once the tread on those all season tires wears down a bit more. I drive approximately 30,000 miles a year, and my commute is about 50 miles round trip, five days a week. I have multiple questions.

-Knowing that longevity is important to me (I don't want to buy a new set of winter tires every other year), are there any brands/styles you can recommend?
-Will highway driving on salty roads greatly diminish the life of my winter tires?
-When would you recommend switching into and out of my winter set of tires each year, and why?
-Should winter tires only be used below a certain outdoor temperature or speed in order to prevent premature wear?


Thanks in advance!
__________________
2011 SE Manual - black exterior/interior
Eagle Eyes halo projectors using 55w 5000K DDMtuning HIDs
LED Conversion (license plate, map/dome lights), and LED Taillights
Autobots decal over Ford emblems
Flat black TFB Designs hood stripes
2011 SE is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-12-2011, 09:49 PM   #4
DarkSpork
Focus Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Fan#: 81461
Location: Central Coast, CA
What I Drive: 2013 VW GTI

Posts: 224
FF Reputation: 1 DarkSpork Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
I'm not a professional but I did a lot of research before buying the winter tires I have (I put the same ones on my wife's car)

-Knowing that longevity is important to me (I don't want to buy a new set of winter tires every other year), are there any brands/styles you can recommend?
The Continental ExtremeWinterContact tires I bought seemed to do better than other snow tires in terms of longevity from reading reviews. The Tire Rack has a tool that will show you what winter tires fit and many users submit reviews detailing tread life, performance, comfort, etc.
-Will highway driving on salty roads greatly diminish the life of my winter tires?
Not sure, I've only driven in the snow in the Midwest.
-When would you recommend switching into and out of my winter set of tires each year, and why?
It depends on your preference. I remember reading somewhere "when the average temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm putting mine on in about a month since we get snow before Halloween. I took them off mid April and we got hit with an ice storm a few weeks later. I'll probably put them on mid Oct and take them off mid April this year too.
-Should winter tires only be used below a certain outdoor temperature or speed in order to prevent premature wear?
The tread compound on winter tires is much softer than all season tires, cold makes it less soft. If you leave them on well into the spring expect premature wear (as my friend who left them on through June found out, bald blizzaks after 6 months).

That being said, I put the winter tires on my wife's Accord early Oct while there were still some warm day and took them off mid April. They show little wear. On my Focus I put them on in January (bought the car in Dec) and took them off mid April and they show no wear.

I hope this helps some, the Tire Rack sales rep can probably help more. Remember your ABS doesn't help you stop, it just helps you maintain control while trying to stop. The traction control doesn't give you extra traction, it just prevents you from sending too much torque to the drive wheels (which may sometimes be any at all).
DarkSpork is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-12-2011, 09:56 PM   #5
2011 SE
Focus Addict
 
2011 SE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Fan#: 80951
Location: Haverhill, MA
What I Drive: 2011 SE

Posts: 1,174
FF Reputation: 8 2011 SE Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (2)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSpork View Post
I hope this helps some, the Tire Rack sales rep can probably help more. Remember your ABS doesn't help you stop, it just helps you maintain control while trying to stop. The traction control doesn't give you extra traction, it just prevents you from sending too much torque to the drive wheels (which may sometimes be any at all).
Thanks for the response! I'd definitely be interested to read what the rep says. As for ABS and all that jazz, I actually don't depend on them at all, as I've never had them in the past. In fact traction control is just a bother to me. If I start to slip on a start, I'll just shift into 2nd to get moving. But I'm a firm believer that going slower and leaving a larger following distance will avoid 90% of common winter driving ailments. And if your car can't handle the weather conditions (and you can always tell when it can't), then don't drive! My life and my car's condition are far more important than getting anywhere during a bad storm!
__________________
2011 SE Manual - black exterior/interior
Eagle Eyes halo projectors using 55w 5000K DDMtuning HIDs
LED Conversion (license plate, map/dome lights), and LED Taillights
Autobots decal over Ford emblems
Flat black TFB Designs hood stripes
2011 SE is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-13-2011, 12:31 AM   #6
DarkSpork
Focus Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Fan#: 81461
Location: Central Coast, CA
What I Drive: 2013 VW GTI

Posts: 224
FF Reputation: 1 DarkSpork Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2011 SE View Post
But I'm a firm believer that going slower and leaving a larger following distance will avoid 90% of common winter driving ailments.
The 10% is why I bought winter/snow tires. I started driving in the snow only a few years ago (beginning of 2008) and never drove with snow tires until last winter. To me the 10% is the unknown; the guy in the SUV who crosses blindly crosses the highway because it's hard to see around the snowbanks, the person that merges in front of you doing 15-20mph on the highway without signaling, the accident that happens right in front of you, debris in the road, sheets of ice, etc. I can't imagine other drivers are much less of a danger where you are.

The Ford Focus is a great car, but like most other FWD cars it prone to under-steer at it's limits, which are very low on ice (I've been barely moving through parking lots, unable to turn, unable to stop moving towards an obstacle). They don't salt roads here, you have to wait for it to melt which takes a while because we get cold winters.

The last vehicle I drove through winter with all seasons was my Ford Ranger. Even leaving generous stopping distances there were still occasions where I had to plow into snow next to the curb so that I did not hit the person who just stopped at the light in front of me (this is given nearly a block of stopping distance). I never drove my Ranger fast in the winter because it stayed in 2wd unless the snow was too deep to move anywhere without 4wd. Sheets of ice are incredibly difficult to stop on, especially without snow tires. I'm not saying snow tires are a replacement for common sense, I'm just saying they're worth the money.

It sounds like you have a lot more experience driving in snow/ice so I'm not telling you anything new. But if you like your Focus the price of snow tires is easily justifiable. You will probably have to pay more than I did since my car does not have TPMS, but winter tires are well worth it.
DarkSpork is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-13-2011, 11:28 AM   #7
miles@tirerack.com
Focus Enthusiast
 
miles@tirerack.com's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Fan#: 85510
Posts: 190
FF Reputation: 3 miles@tirerack.com Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2011 SE View Post
-Knowing that longevity is important to me (I don't want to buy a new set of winter tires every other year), are there any brands/styles you can recommend?
-Will highway driving on salty roads greatly diminish the life of my winter tires?
-When would you recommend switching into and out of my winter set of tires each year, and why?
-Should winter tires only be used below a certain outdoor temperature or speed in order to prevent premature wear?
Excellent questions that I'm glad you brought up although my answers will sound similar to DarkSpork (<- thanks for chiming in!).

All of these questions are related as the timing and conditions you run your tires in will effect wear. I've found that the Michelin Xi2 will offer the best tread life and the newest Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 boasts the same.

I have not heard anything or seen any evidence to indicates that salt will cause additional wear.

It is best to run dedicated winter tires in temperatures below 45 degrees to prevent excessive wear. A lot of people call and ask if they can be used year round and the answer is yes BUT you might only get a year out of them which just isn't worth it. So if you decide to make the leap to winter tires then try to only have them on when the temperature is consistently less than 45 degrees. This obviously varies based on the area. The rule of thumb here in northern Indiana is Thanksgiving to Tax Day.

The why is because the winter tire rubber compound is softer than an all season compound. In warmer weather you can literally see it pealing off.
__________________
Refer to 'Miles/FocusFanatics' as your previous contact when you order online. You can also credit the forum by ordering through any Tire Rack link.
miles@tirerack.com is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-13-2011, 04:18 PM   #8
DEREKC
Focus Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Fan#: 82958
Location: Ottawa, Canada
What I Drive: 2012 Kona Blue Ford Focus Titanium

Posts: 522
FF Reputation: 2 DEREKC Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
Year: 2012
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Location: Ontario, Canada
Winter package: Tires and Steel Wheels - 215/55/16

* Best solution for delivery to Canada?
DEREKC is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-13-2011, 04:31 PM   #9
miles@tirerack.com
Focus Enthusiast
 
miles@tirerack.com's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Fan#: 85510
Posts: 190
FF Reputation: 3 miles@tirerack.com Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DEREKC View Post
Year: 2012
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Location: Ontario, Canada
Winter package: Tires and Steel Wheels - 215/55/16

* Best solution for delivery to Canada?
I can ship directly to you in Ontario! When we do so we are required to collect the taxes, duties, brokerage...etc. E-mail me the specific products you're interested in as well as your postal code and I'll get the total for you.
__________________
Refer to 'Miles/FocusFanatics' as your previous contact when you order online. You can also credit the forum by ordering through any Tire Rack link.
miles@tirerack.com is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2011, 03:25 AM   #10
NorthernFocalPoint
Focus Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Fan#: 89496
Location: O-town, Canada
What I Drive: 2012 Candy Red Titanium Focus HB

Posts: 250
FF Reputation: 3 NorthernFocalPoint Good Standing Member
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0)
Btw DEREKC, a narrower option like a 195 width would be better suited to our Ottawa driving. Check into the 15" option (wheels/tires are cheaper too).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DEREKC View Post
Year: 2012
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Location: Ontario, Canada
Winter package: Tires and Steel Wheels - 215/55/16

* Best solution for delivery to Canada?
NorthernFocalPoint is offline  
    Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply

Bookmarks & Social Networks

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Ford Focus Forum, Ford Focus ST Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:39 AM.


Copyright 2002-2014 FocusFanatics.com. All Rights Reserved : Privacy Policy : Advertise Information

Focus Fanatics Ford Focus Forum offers many fun ways for you to engage with other Ford Focus Owners from across the world. Whether it be about the aftermarket performance modifications, technical how-to's, European tuned suspension or awesome fuel economy similar to the Cadillac ATS-V, Ford Fusion and Acura TLX. You can find all Ford Focus and Focus ST related information here. Join our Ford Focus discussion forums and chat with local Focus enthusiasts in your area.