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Snow/Ice winter tires



  • That's SO helpful! I hadn't noticed that the small pictures at TireRack linked to high-res pictures. Kudos to them (sadly, however, I think I am still buying at Costco).

    Also, I didn't notice that TireRack's page on All Seasons tires mentions that all of them have the M+S designation (all the ones on their page, not necessarily all All Seasons).

    So I am good. Thanks again.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I couldn't have been more wrong! Hate it when that happens. :P

    Long story short, both sets of tires for my Mazda3 have M+S on the sidewall. The Michelins are highly stylized and even though indicator is fairly large, it was easy to miss. The Yokohamas were easy to overlook as well due to the "M+S" indicator being maybe only an eighth of an inch high.

    So, time for me to shut-up and crawl back into my hole. :blush:
  • capriracercapriracer Somewhere in the USPosts: 856
    When radial tires first came into the US market, it was noticed that snow traction was much better than with bias tires. It didn't take long for someone to realize that a tire could be made more aggressive - and get improved snow traction - with only a slight loss of wear - the first all season tire. Others followed suit.

    But this created a problem for the California Highway Patrol who regulated what vehicles were allowed to go into the mountains in winter. Their regulations required SNOW tires - amd while they understood that All Season tires had better snow traction than bias ply tires did, they needed something concrete to work against. So the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) created a verbal description of what an all season tire looked like and Cailfornia wrote a regulation around that definition with the letters "M" and "S" as indicators. Put specifically - those two letters could only be used if, and only if, the tires met the definition - and the term "All Season could only be used if, and only if, the tire had an "M" and "S" on the sidewall. Other tires could have those letters - all terrain, winter tires - but the intent was to delineate street passenger car tires that had snow capability.

    The letters "M" and "S" could be separated by a "+", or a "-", or a "/", or nothing at all, but when the letters appear, those mean "all season" and vice versa.

    So you may ask: "Why didn't they mandate a test rather than a description of how they looked!" Because snow traction testing was in its infancy and there was lots of variability. In other words - it wasn't reliable enough.

    Fast forward a couple of decades: The Canadians wanted to create a regulation for winter tires. They knew that some all season tires weren't vey good in the snow (although clearly superior to the old bias ply tires), but they wanted something that clearly delineated a superior winter traction tire. Again, the RMA stepped in and came up with a test and a symbol (Commonly called the "SnowFlake Symbol"). Needless to say, that snow traction test had become much more repeatable and reliable by then so the test had vaildity to the real world.

    That is where things are at the moment.

    But there is a problem: Many all terrain tires will pass this test - as will some agressive all season tires. That makes it difficult to enforce a "Winter Tire Only" regulation. So the Canadians have proposed a more agressive test and an approriate symbol to match - and they have run into technical difficulties. The Canadians would like to add ice traction to the testing protocol - BUT - tires that are really good in snow aren't necessarily really good on ice and vice versa. So they are have some difficulties writing a regulation to deal with this. They need to work out the bugs before a new symbol can be created.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Interesting stuff....but really now, aside from studded tires, or chained tires, is any tire really "good" on ice? I mean, actual ice. Seems unlikely to claim such.

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  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The Michelin X-Ice tires which I ran on my 530i were surprisingly decent on ice.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    yeah but not "ice" ice. You mean melted-snow type ice, right? You've seen videos of cars and trucks sliding backwards down hills? That's what I was talking about.

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  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 759
    I am not qualified to respond about pure ice. I can however state that it is actually difficult to get the anti-lock brakes to kick in, with Blizzaks on the car, in the winter here in Cleveland. We're talking a light, late model Celica with four large brakes. Snowy, slushy, icy conditions, it doesn't matter. If that top layer of microcells has not worn off yet, the car stops unbelievably well.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    No, I'm talking about ICE, you know, the cold hard stuff that glazes everything it comes in contact with.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I think we're talking about different things then. I was talking about sheer ice, or "black ice" as it is sometimes called. Even chains, studs or tank treads don't help very much on this stuff.

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  • capriracercapriracer Somewhere in the USPosts: 856
    edited September 2011
    Obviously, "good" is a relative term.

    When the Canadians proposed the new regulation, they assumed that a tire that would have - relatively - excellent ice traction, would also have - relatively - excellent snow traction. It would have been nice if that was true, but, alas, that is not the case.

    Clearly ice traction is going to be low compared to dry traction - but that wasn't the issue. It had to do with rating tires - and the assumption was that the average motorist would assume a highly rated winter tire would be highly rated for both snow and ice traction - and because they are not, there's a dilemma.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    You'd be surprised the difference in traction on "black ice" between say all-season tires and winter tires. The winter rubber compounds do in fact manage to find some grip where other tires do not; this is of course all relative.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I was watching a video from TIRERACK on this subject since you brought up this interesting point. I think we were really on the same page but I was thinking of high speed traction on ice which of course is pretty impossible to ask of any tire.

    But the TIRERACK video definitely shows that at slow speeds (10 mph) some tires perform quite well on ice (they used an ice rink). So I could see why picking the right tire makes a difference under those conditions.

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Yeah, at high speed, no tire will grip well on "black ice," but some will still perform far and away better than the rest. There are three tires (all studless) with which I have had experience that do an excellent job on black ice: Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice, Bridgestone Blizzak, and Michelin X-Ice.

    That said, chains are still better.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Toyo Observes are the only studless snow tire I have had experience with, and it's been all good. AWD on the Subaru doesn't hurt, either.

    Suburban does just fine on Toyo Open Country AT's with added siping.

    I gave up studs years ago, and haven't missed them.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,743
    Put the winter tires on two cars, yesterday...

    Did them ourselves, for the first time.. I have a friend with a floor jack, a torque wrench and a pickup truck (to haul two sets down to his house).. That's all we needed...

    Good practice for the teenager!


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  • I used to own a subaru outback and fitted them with Nokian all weather tires. There were great in winter (better than previous all seasons) and used all year round without any sign of significant wear when I sold the car 5 years later. I bought a 2nd hand Tribeca last spring and it came with all seasons and a set of spare supposedly winter tires - cooper discover m+s with a 3 peaked snowflake logo.
    I am really confused because m+s is kind of an all season rating and the snowflake logo means that it has winter tire specification.
    The question I have is could I consider this cooper tire an all weather tire and keep it all year round? I remember the nokian AW previously mentioned bearing the snowflake logo too? Thanks!
  • capriracercapriracer Somewhere in the USPosts: 856
    First, any tire that has the Mountain/Snowflake symbol will also have the M*S designation. However, it is extremely unusual for tires that have the Mountain/Snowflake symbol to be suitable for year round usage.

    Second, Cooper Discoverer M+S is indeed a winter tire and what Cooper says about it on their web site doesn't mention year round use. But to be sure, You should call Cooper and ask.
  • Hi,

    I have a set of Nokian Hakkapeliita LT's on my Toyota Rav 4. I would highly recommend them to anyone. They are my first set of winter tires so I don't have much to compare them to but paired with the Rav's traction control system I'll say that this is a totally different driving experience than with the all seasons that came with the vehicle. I posted a review on them here. There are a few other winter tire reviews as well.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    It is stunning how much of an improvement winter tires can make, isn't it?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ggeeooggeeoo Posts: 94
    My daughter you went to SU in upstate NY last winter told me due to extreme Ice and Snow driving around town was treacherous but snow chains were not allowed. I got on the Net and found the Nokian [I live in 92657] Empire Tires had 9 of the Nokian WR I bought four paid for
    them to be installed. My daughter that winter was the only one of her friends that could keep rolling on the ice and snow. When it came to time for me to replace my 20K old on my TDI
    I called Tyresbyweb and had four Entyres shipped via FEDEX to me hear in Newport Beach.
    I noticed that my TDI Jetta VW that gets 50 MPG on the highway now gets 63 MPG on the highway WOW. I also do not pick up nails like my wife's Hankooks . Recently we got a big
    rain storm all the roads get very slick with the oil on them the Entyres worked great with this
    what more can you ask for. :)
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