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Educate a first time snow driver

Old 12-03-2018, 06:00 AM
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Default Educate a first time snow driver

Looks like at the end of this year I will be moving up north, right in the dead of winter. I've never lived in a place that snows so I am trying to get everything ready.

The main car in question is my daily driver FR-S. It's fairly stock, besides lowering springs. I currently drive on Ventus V-12s.

My main concerns are: will I have trouble driving this car? Should I buy another set of wheels with snow tires? Or buy tires and get them mounted? If there is no snow one day, do you switch back to regular tires or are snow tires fine?

I'm a good driver and understand car control fairly well. Multiple autocross seasons, numerous track days, etc. I'm a very tame driver on the road. Never rush, text, etc.
​​​​​​
Family car is a FWD Corolla. Snow tires on that also?

Sorry to sound so ignorant, but trying to alleviate my concerns.

Thanks for any help! S2000 will be in storage for the winter.
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Old 12-03-2018, 06:39 AM
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you should buy some all season tires.

if you've never driven in snow, leave your traction control in the frs/brz

the corolla will be easier to drive.

i think you should be fine as long as you are cautious.

your bigger concern is black ice, you cannot see it. and since you aren't from the north, you probably don't have an eye for picking the spots it could exist.

​​​​​​​good luck, just take it easy on the roads if its below freezing or snowy.
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Old 12-03-2018, 06:46 AM
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100000% buy snow tires. All season tires are not good in snow and snow tires aren't just for snow. They're for dry/wet roads when under 40F too.

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Old 12-03-2018, 07:25 AM
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I do not care what anyone tells you, buy winter tires. They are eleventy billion times better than no seasons (which is what all seasons really are) in the snow. You will be MUCH happier in the long run.

And there will always be the "I have lived in MN and never had winter tires" .... people. And they would still be a million times better off if they had them I lived in MN for probably 5 years before owning a set and being a decent driver I made it ok. Then bought my first set and found out just how much better off I was with them. On average, they will stop 30% shorter than the best all seasons even on dry pavement when it is below freezing. That is nothing to sneeze at.

I recommend getting some wheels with them so you do not have to pay for swapping them (or buy snows through Discount Tire and they will swap them for free each winter and spring for you).

Remember as well, the tires do not cost you any more in the long run, since you are saving your other tires from wear while using them. So only the wheels cost you anything extra in the long run.

I have Blizzaks on both our Tacoma and 4Runner and Goodyear winters on my Scion tC.

Lots of folks I know drive BRZ/FRS in the winter here as well as Miatas. You will do fine and if you are moving to a city in the north you will be surprised at how well they keep the roads plowed, so you wont have to worry about deep snow on the main roads as much as you would when it snows further south.

Find a car wash with a good underbody wash to keep the salt knocked off regularly to keep rust down.

Throw some snow boots and warm clothes in the back in case you do need to get out and help someone else or walk out from a stuck car

Based upon your driving experience you will do fine. Just watch out for the other crazies on the road!
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:28 AM
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Before we can give you recommendations, define “up north”

where will you be moving? Will you be in the city or close in suburbs or out in a rural setting?

depending on where you move, the recommendation could be good all season or snow tires.

for example, I’ve lived in Northern Ohio for over 30 years and get over 60 inched of snow a year and have never owned snow tires—I used good all season tires on our two daily drivers and have never had a problem—between my wife and I we put about 25k miles a year on the two dailies. (the S2000 hibernates during the winter)

I do live in a city that does a super job of keeping the roads clear and I can count on one hand the times over the past decade I’ve had to wait a few hours after a really heavy snowfall for the city to clear the roads—typically they’re treated with salt brine as the snow starts falling and then the continual plowing and salt keeps them clear.

if I lived out in the country or where thay did a poor job of clearing the roads, I would reconsider and probably use snow tires.

if you do buy snow tires, you just leave them on from the first snowfall til spring. You would have better snow traction but lose dry traction and braking and they ride a bit rougher than all seasons.

You can look on Tire Rack at the user reviews on snow traction on all seasons as well as reviews of snow tires in tire sizes that fit your cars—theres a lot of good choices in both depending on what you want to spend.
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by engifineer View Post

And there will always be the "I have lived in MN and never had winter tires" .... people. And they would still be a million times better off if they had them I lived in MN for probably 5 years before owning a set and being a decent driver I made it ok. Then bought my first set and found out just how much better off I was with them. On average, they will stop 30% shorter than the best all seasons even on dry pavement when it is below freezing!
Interesting—-never heard that winter tires stop an average of 30% better than all seasons on dry pavement in the winter—all the reviews I’ve seen show just the opposite—--can you cite your source?

(Snow tires do stop better than summer tires below freezing because summer tires get hard when its cold and don’t grip the road but we’re not talking about summer tires.)
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:56 AM
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OP—-here’s a good article on winter driving and the writer’s opinion in snow vs all season tires—-he believes (as I do) that it depends entirely on where you’re moving to and realistically how many times a year does it snow enough there that winter tires will make enough of a difference to warrent the cost and hassle.

Winter Tires: Myths and Facts :: Icy Road Safety

But no one can make a relevent recommendation til we know where you’re moving!
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Old 12-03-2018, 08:12 AM
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+1 for Winter tires. They're 100% necessary. I put them on all my cars that I drive.....and I drive performance RWD cars all winter. It can be done, you just have to use a little extra caution.
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Old 12-03-2018, 08:15 AM
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I have never seen data suggesting winter tires stop worse below 40 degrees. All season tread DOES harden more in the winter. So do winter tires, all compounds do. This means you will stop better in sub freezing conditions on snow tires. The compound is what makes them good, not just the tread pattern.

I have tested it on all my cars dry and on snow in the winter. Using crude measurements, but it is very, very noticeably better on winters in the dry. In the snow (even 1" of snow) there is no comparison.

We get about the same amount of snow here as you do in OH. Although it stays colder here. and what most people here hate is dealing with driving around those "I have run all my life on all seasons" people. I have driven 14 hours in a white out blizzard on all seasons and survived it .. wishing I had put on the winters sooner the whole time Being able to do it is not the same as doing it better, and when it comes down to me being able to stop in time or crash, the small price of a set of tires is worth it !

now, yes we should define up north. If I were moving back down to KC, I would not worry about it. But anywhere that it stays south of freezing for months it is worth having them. again, they cost you no more once you buy the first set, especially if you buy the wheels with them so you do not pay to swap. Storage area is your only concern there.
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Old 12-03-2018, 08:23 AM
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I’m surprised at all the recommendation for the OP to go buy snow tires before he’s even shared with us where he’s moving.......

He’s in Florida so “up north” could be anywhere......

the recommendations we make should fit his circumstances—-for example, if he’s moving to Maine, upstate NY, or North Dakota, snow tires may make sense.

If he’s moving to Cincinnatti (where it snows on average less than 10 days a year) or Philly (where it snows an average of less than 12 days a year) all seasons makes more sense—-no point in putting up with the poor dry weather performance of snows 150 days (assuming mid Nov to mid April) when they’re needed only 10-12 of those days—-and then only til the roads are cleared.
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