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Old 08-29-2012, 08:30 AM   #1
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Set of Winter Tires

I live in the great state of MN so most of the year, it's cold.

I've got a 2012 Focus SEL HB with 17" wheels.

I have been thinking about getting a set of winter tires and wheels and just swap them out during the winter.

I was thinking about steel wheels with covers due to cost as well as because of all the salt that goes on the roads.

I looked at tirerack.com and they have 16" steel wheels.

I would plan on bringing the tires to a local shop to get mounted, balanced and the TPMS sensors swapped over.

On to the questions:
1. Overall, good idea or not?
2. Even though I have 17" on my car now, can I put 16" without problems?
3. What brand of winter tire do people recommend?
4. If I keep the wheels clean, could I get away with using alloys (never had them before)?


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Old 08-29-2012, 12:47 PM   #2
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The 16" wheels and tires would be a good option (better than 17's for sure). The narrower tire will cut thru snow and slush. Steel wheels are fine to but you can sometimes from deals on alloy wheels for not much more than steel wheels (check Tirerack for closeouts, sales etc.). As for TPMS sensors, that's a personal matter. You can go without them if you can put up with the warning light that will stay on. There's no harm and it's not illegal to not use them (we drove for a hundred years without them right?). There are some unconfirmed reports that you may have some problems in some states with inspection requirements. In that case simply put the wheel set with the sensors back on for the inspection. I don't have them on the snow tire/wheel set for my GTI and the warning light no longer bothers or distracts me. The other hassle is that the sensor recognition system will have to be reset every time you switch the wheels/tires. You have to pay someone to do that or buy a separate programming tool.

Tire rack will set you up with wheels and tires and will deliver them balanced and ready to install with new lug nuts etc. They'll even pre-install sensors if you want and they also sell the programing tools if needed.

As far as tires, there's plenty of good ones available out there. It depends on how deep your wallet is. The Cadillac of snow tires are made by Nokian (aka Hakkas). These are Finnish snow tires that eat snow, last a long time but are harder to find and cost a lot. Bizzaks are also very good but also pricey. Their achilles heal is that they wear quickly if driven on dry or warm roads. Michelin X Ice is another good and popular option. A less expensive snow tire that's very popular and works great too (lots of FF members including myself use them) are the General Altimax Artics (they were designed (and originally built by a Scandinavian tire company (a subsidiary of Continental Tire which also owns General Tire). I'm sure we'll see the introduction of some new or improved snow tires in the coming months as well.
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:33 PM   #3
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Sweet! Thanks for the info!

Now I gotta decide if I can find a budget for them and if I want to do the TPMS (probably would buy a set for the new set).
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:32 PM   #4
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I have an SEL with 17s in the summer, and got a pretty good deal through a dealer on the 16" OEM alloys with winter tires. They are noticeably softer (partially due to them being snow tires). TPMS sensors are a bit of a pain, but buy them once and not have issues.

MN, like ON, involved winter wheels quite a bit of the year... may as well make the car look better than the rest! Just stay away from alloy wheels that have machined surfaces.. always painted/sealed surfaces for winter.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:21 PM   #5
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I'm putting 15s on mine since I have the Blizzaks off of the Protege5 that we sold to get the Focus. I'm just going to pick up a set of Sport Edition alloys from Tire Rack next month. I'm not going to bother with the TPMS, I can live with the warning at startup if it saves me $185.
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