Winter or all terrain tyres? - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-10-2010, 05:48 AM Thread Starter
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Winter or all terrain tyres?

Rather than a what tyre question, I'm after some advice on what type of tyre.

You are no doubt aware the UK winter weather is variable, mainly wet but we did get a fair amount of snow last winter and temps regularly down to -8 where I live. Based on this winter tyres may make sense, however now I've started on some green lanes I'd like to continue so maybe I need all terrain tyres.

My question is do all terrain tyres work well enough in freezing temps and snow, or would winter tyres be ok for a trundle down a muddy green lane?

I've searched but not found my specific question (if it is there my apologies for my poor search skills )

Thanks in advance

Neil
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-10-2010, 07:32 AM
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Hi Neil,

I went through the same questions back in the fall of 2008 after I had bought my Forester. I figured that a decent AT should be able to "do it all" and based on the dealers suggestion and user reviews here I got the General Grabber AT2 with firm expectations of it being a 4 season tire.

Well, was I ever in for a surprise when it it -10 c here! The tires turned into big, hard rubber pucks with no ice/compact snow grip at all. So I now run the Grabbers as a 2 1/2 season tire and run a dedicated winter for the rest of the year.

Of course here in the Colonies our winters are a wee bit more harsh than "back home".

There may be decent AT tires that will do for you 12 months of the year, but they will have compromises of some sort compared to dedicated winter/rest of the year tires. This could include shorter tread life, only so so traction all year, noise, etc.

Here in Canada, we have a system that designates tires as legal winter use; if you have such a system there I would pick an AT tire that meets that criteria then you should be OK all around. I should note that the Grabber in the size that meets the Forester stock size is not a winter rated tire here. So no wonder it behaved so poorly once the tempds got cold.

This is our requirement: Winter Tire Safety Tips - Vehicle Safety Features - Safe Vehicles - Road and Motor Vehicle Safety - Road Transportation - Transport Canada, so finding an AT tire with the should get you a good tire for all year.

Here is a list of tires for Canada, maybe one of these would work?
APA.ca

Tough choices though as there are lots of good tires and everyone has different driving conditions.

Note that I do use my Bridgestone Blizzak WS 60's in woods with no issues but would not run them in the summer as they would wear out very quickly and not handle that well.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-10-2010, 09:30 AM
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Neil, like Trainman said, there's always compromises, when it comes to tires.

Sadly, even current technology has yet to provide for a tire that excels at everything....don't get me wrong, there are tires that are good at a lot of things, but for them to excel? that requires, as with us humans, some specialized dedication.

So, with that said:

I've got a set of "Performance Winters" on my '05 Legacy 2.5GT, a set of Dunlop SP WinterSport 3Ds. Four seasons ago, they were "king of the hill," but they've long been toppled, in terms of quantitative performance comparisons via the most respected international winter testing sources (i.e. ADAC, NAF, etc.). Nevertheless, on my Legacy, straight-line, I can easily keep up with virtually any vehicle on the road, in the winter, with the exception of our municipal snow plow trucks (i.e. http://www.ogdenny.com/data/images/Highway/Snow_2.jpg) and the typically "gigantic" Ford F350 SuperDutys that serve, here in the US, as private-property snow-plows.

Of the latter, there's an interesting comparison that happened just this previous winter:

A new plow truck, using AT tires, set a straight-line pace that I just couldn't keep through deeper, fresh-fallen "wet" snow. My Legacy is lowered by about an inch all-around, and the relatively wide "Performance Winters" that I use, combined with the vehicle's relatively light curb-weight, simply means that I can't put down enough traction, when things get deeper. Slowing down to reasonable speeds again makes me almost invincible, but you get the picture.

The funny thing?

He comes to an intersection, and he powers through, 4-wheel-drifting wide onto the perpendicular street, with his AT tires throwing up a white-out's worth of snow, off the ground.

I enter the same intersection, and by the time I'm again on the throttle, powering out, I've passed him, on the inside.

What does this mean?

His vehicle weight plus the inherent capabilities of his AT tires to "self-clear" meant that, straight-line, he could put down a pace that I couldn't keep up with - but once the corner came up, it well illustrates Trainman's point above, in a very real-world manner.

In terms of winter tires for off-road use, you'll want to remember that they typically lack for the more serious sidewall protection that AT and true off-road tires may offer. Similarly, their compounding will be different, and they may not be as durable, when put to the harshest of use.

So, the question becomes one of, as Trainman said, compromises.

There's no right or wrong answer, per-se, as long as you take your specific driving preferences and needs into account in the proper manner.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments, they are really helpful, and it's a very valid point about being able to go round corners I will start my search for winter tyres

Cheers

Neil
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 12:32 PM
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I've got these on in 205/70/15.

http://www.yokohama-online.com/Produ...ash=5926e997ce

Stunning in the snow earlier on this year and great off road.........and they look good.

They'd look even better on your spare Impreza alloys.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 01:23 PM
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+1 to what's been said here. I run grabbers at2's for all year except winter.
I did run them in the end of last winter so I got a feel of how they was compared to the studded nokian tires.
They actually performed ok in snow. But they where scary on ice.
Go for good winter tires

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 02:20 PM
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I had studded winterforce tires on mine and they were great offroad and in snow, but studs are only allowed in the winter here. The gf has them unstudded and uses them year round, on ice and such without the studs they aren't as good, but they grip nearly as well as an AT offroad, much better than any all season could. They're a bit soft on pavement however and a bit noiser than I would like. When they wear out we're going to put the grabber AT2 on for year round use.

An AT will have as good or better deep snow traction, but on lightly snow covered roads they won't keep up with a true snow tire. The grabber AT2 is severe snow duty rated however.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkymonkey1002 View Post
...

The grabber AT2 is severe snow duty rated however.
Not in the stock 16" size for the 09's they aren't I'm afraid, at least for Canada (ie no snowflake/mountain symbol). But they can be studded

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 05:45 PM
 
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Remember that snow tyres will wear out really quickly once the temps go up above 6 or 7C, so you wont get much use out of them here in the UK as snow tyres...

Might me worth consulting your insurance company too...it'd be a shame to get hit by someone else out of control, only to find out that you're not insured.

For what its worth I run the stock Geo 900's and had no trouble this (UK) winter

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trainman View Post
Not in the stock 16" size for the 09's they aren't I'm afraid, at least for Canada (ie no snowflake/mountain symbol). But they can be studded
Are you sure? Tirerack had that listed, but when I contacted General they said they're all rated the same for snow. On their site in the general AT2 over view it lists "Meets the severe snow service requirements of the RMA and RAC", without any size specifics.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2010, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkymonkey1002 View Post
Are you sure? Tirerack had that listed, but when I contacted General they said they're all rated the same for snow. On their site in the general AT2 over view it lists "Meets the severe snow service requirements of the RMA and RAC", without any size specifics.
If you read on tirerack's site it says that some of the sizes don't meet the severe snow requirement

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by funkymonkey1002 View Post
Are you sure? Tirerack had that listed, but when I contacted General they said they're all rated the same for snow. On their site in the general AT2 over view it lists "Meets the severe snow service requirements of the RMA and RAC", without any size specifics.
Yup, I am sure. 2 ways I know:

1: The General web site for the AT2 has a specifications table, and there are several sizes marked with *, including the 215/65R16. The * means these sizes do not meet the sever snow requirements despite the general statement on the main AT2 page. This is confirmed by tire retailers such as Tire Rack and Fountain Tire where I bought mine;

2: Up here if it does meet it, it must have the molded onto the tire and mine does not, only the M&S rating.

And its performance as a winter tire really shows that it is not, especially on ice and compact snow.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 11:49 AM
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"Dear Matthew,


Thank you for contacting Customer Relations at Continental Tire the Americas, LLC.

We do certify that all sizes of the General Grabber AT2 attain a superior snow traction performance that meets the requirements given in the "Rubber Manufactures Association definition for passenger and light truck tires for use in severe snow conditions" (RMA Information Service Bulletin Volume 37 / Number 2, February 1999).
"


Interesting.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkymonkey1002 View Post
"Dear Matthew,


Thank you for contacting Customer Relations at Continental Tire the Americas, LLC.

We do certify that all sizes of the General Grabber AT2 attain a superior snow traction performance that meets the requirements given in the "Rubber Manufactures Association definition for passenger and light truck tires for use in severe snow conditions" (RMA Information Service Bulletin Volume 37 / Number 2, February 1999).
"


Interesting.
It may be a Canada/US thing. Up here, it's Transport Canada and the Rubber Association of Canada that designate what meets the criteria, and the 215/65R16 does not make it. RMA may have different criteria, that's about all I can think of. Anyway, my personal experience with this tire, in this size, is that it is not suitable for the winter conditions I drive in.

Edit: I Googled that document and sure enough in the US that snowflake/mountain picture is to be on all severe rated snow tires as well. As noted, mine do not have that, so its not rated for sever snow/winter use.

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Last edited by Trainman; 08-13-2010 at 12:46 PM. Reason: Added extra information
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 01:15 PM
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I know that the law says otherwise - that in winter-tire-only, as mandated by law, areas, such branding of the tires are very important.

But in-truth, don't worry too much about that branding. There's now starting to be worry that the once-revered "snowflake on the mountain" symbol is going the way of the "M+S" branding. http://www.wheels.ca/Tire%20Talk/article/196342 - that was back in 2008.

In terms, specifically, of the above AT2?

While I cannot profess to have experience with the specifics of the issue, in reading what you two have posted, Trainman and funkymonkey, my gut feeling is to side with Trainman's speculation, that it may be related to Canadian/US differences.

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Last edited by TSi+WRX; 08-13-2010 at 01:37 PM.
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