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Discussion Starter #1
I have always gone to the snow with all-season tires in this and my last Subaru. I have had a few close calls and so before this winter season gets going I decided to do something about that.

Last weekend I purchased some 03 WRX 16" rims for a really good price. And just now I ordered a set of Continental ExtremeWinterContact tires (215/60/16).





They were tested against the Blizzaks on TireRack and from what I read there and other places, they performed very similarly to the Blizzak but provided a bit less road noise.

For the winter driving I do (multi-day trips to the mountains), seeing as I have done fine with all-season tires so far, any winter-specific tire will be a huge step up. Can't wait to use them! :banana:
 

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Last night I mounted these on my XT in preparation for my first trip up to the mountains coming up in a little over a week.

For comparison sake my year-round setup are Goodyear Tripletred 215/55/17 on stock rims (with 60-70% tread life) and the continentals are 215/60/16 on 04 WRX rims.

I drove to work today after a night of rain (sunny this morning) and WOW are these smooth riding. compared to my Goodyear's, these are super supple and quiet. I'm actually looking forward to my trip to the mountains with these since their ride so much smoother.

Something I noticed about the tread while mounting them is the pattern. Looking at this image the tires is labeled:

<-Inside---------------Outside->

This is sort of odd because the tread has distinctive angles and lines that are in essence backwards from one side to the other. Perhaps this asymmetrical design will help with foul weather traction.

I'll update on my trip when I have a chance to use these in the snow/ice.

Side note question: Do winter specific tires typically not last as long as non-winter specific tires? What is the typical mileage lifespan of studless winter tires? Their softer compound made me think this...
 

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Yes, this new design is puzzling. I've got (old style) Extreme Contact all-seasons on both cars—tread is uniform all the way across—which I chose in large part due to their snow rating at Tirerack. Though I have dedicated snows as well, the Contis have lived up to the rating in those early and late storms that Murphy's Law says are going to happen when you don't yet have your snows on or have taken them off just a bit too soon.

Yes, winter tires don't stand up as well to summer driving, and they don't perform as well there either.
 

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Last night I mounted these on my XT in preparation for my first trip up to the mountains coming up in a little over a week.

For comparison sake my year-round setup are Goodyear Tripletred 215/55/17 on stock rims (with 60-70% tread life) and the continentals are 215/60/16 on 04 WRX rims.

I drove to work today after a night of rain (sunny this morning) and WOW are these smooth riding. compared to my Goodyear's, these are super supple and quiet. I'm actually looking forward to my trip to the mountains with these since their ride so much smoother.
Remember to allow the tires' mold-release to scrub-off, before serious testing of its limits. Typically, this'll take between 300 to 500 miles. After that, play around with tire pressures, to find your desired optimum. :smile:

Something I noticed about the tread while mounting them is the pattern. Looking at this image the tires is labeled:

<-Inside---------------Outside->

This is sort of odd because the tread has distinctive angles and lines that are in essence backwards from one side to the other. Perhaps this asymmetrical design will help with foul weather traction.
The asymmetric tread design is somewhat unique to this genre of winter tires, which typically see directional, but symmetric, tread design.

I wonder if this may be in-part to enhance its hydroplane resistance, overall wet performance, as well as clear-road performance, which are traditional weak-points of the "Studless Ice & Snow" genre. :shrug: It's even more puzzling given that in this past year's (2009) ADAC testing, the ContiWinterContact TS830 - a symmetric design - garnered the top spot for what we'd consider the "Performance Winter" grouping (H-rated tires), and that the T-rated TS800 also did very, very well in its grouping, and *also* utilizes a symmetric design.

Certainly, there are now more and more "cross-over" tires that span the gap between "Studless Ice & Snows" and "Performance Winters." The also new-for-this-season "Performance Winter" Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60, for instance, utilize the "macro" pattern of the WS60 "Studless Ice & Snow" tires, but reflects much more the "micro" architecture of the rest of the LM-series tires (although its current limitation to the H-speed rating would hint that this tire's compounding and other "micro" features would be biased more towards being a "more aggressively winter" tire, rather than one which catered more to clear-road performance).

It'll be interesting to see how this tire stacks up, in independent/more testing.

[ Here, note that TireRack's test data for this particular grouping of tires - that of "Studless Ice & Snows," has recently come under contest, due to now many different and highly respected sources (NAF, Consumer Reports, etc.) having obtained different results. In the TireRack "Official Winter Tire" thread on NASIOC, their representative has even gone so far as to "re-rank" their test data as-based on the CR article's parameters, upon which TireRack's data all of a sudden falls in-line with other independent testing. With this in-mind, look at the NAF's ranking of the ContiVikingContact 5, which is a Euro-specific-market "Studless Ice & Snow," and is comparable to our ContiExtremeWinterContact offering. REF: Vinterdekktest 2009. Test av piggdekk og piggfrie dekk - NAF ]

Side note question: Do winter specific tires typically not last as long as non-winter specific tires? What is the typical mileage lifespan of studless winter tires? Their softer compound made me think this...
Like bbottomley said, typically, winter tires will not fare as well when driven "out of season."

However, while exact treadwear characteristics are usually relatively unknown until a few seasons have passed (to gather real-world data), one can usually follow the rule of thumb of "all-season" > "Performance Winter" > "Studless Ice & Snow."

[ Clarification, thanks to 2point5awd - I mean to say that "all seasons" typically wear longer than "Performance Winters," which in-turn typically wears longer than "Studless Ice & Snows." ]

But again, I will caution that there can be a great deal of variability between *SPECIFIC* tires, when it comes to this particular concern - both the December issue of Car & Driver, in its comparison of four popular Michelin offerings (REF: C&D Winter tire comparison 11-09 - Bimmerforums - The Ultimate BMW Forum), as well as this Police Fleet Manager Magazine article (dating back to 2006 - Pirelli Snow Tires | Police Fleet Manager Magazine - illustrates this specific point very well.

Similarly, bbottomly's caution that winter tires typically will not perform as well as their "all-season" cousins, under milder/clear conditions, also rings true. Instead of plowing through all that again :wink: , I'll simply refer you to this other thread:

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f72/i-got-stuck-65755/

The golden rule is that tires are - still, to this day - a compromise. They're not able to be everything, to everyone, all the time.

Drive what fits your situation, your need, your wants, the best - and know where your compromises are, and counter accordingly. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all of that good information. You may want to update your:

one can usually follow the rule of thumb of "all-season" > "Performance Winter" > "Studless Ice & Snow."
I think you meant: "all-season" < "Performance Winter" < "Studless Ice & Snow."

I was also wondering about tire pressure as well. Seeing as my OEM 17" 215/55 tires are recommended to 30/32 (front/rear) and these are 16" 215/60 tires, what should I set them to? Does the 30/32 baseline still apply or should it be more?
 

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Thanks for all of that good information.
No need to thank me - I owe this knowledge to others who have taken the time to search out such data and to have pointed them out to me in the past. I'm simply repaying the favor, by passing-it-on. :smile:

The Europeans are fanatical about their winter tires - as well they should be, given some of their native lands' conditions for the colder months! Our Canadian brothers/sisters are quickly catching up, thanks in no small part to recent legal requirements, but we Americans still somewhat lag behind, as of this very moment, in our understanding of winter tires, as well as our testing practices. For the time being, consult any reliable independent source - ones without vested interests which may bring conflict to their recommendations - about winter tires, and they'll tell you one thing: "go European" to look for test data.

One test I forgot to cite was a Swedish comparison of some 30+ tires, which came away with the same (read: identical) top-five finishers in the "Studded," and "Studless Ice & Snow" categories as the NAF test (although the scoring and weighing systems were different, the final results came to be the same), along with the following scoring for "Performance Winter" tires, which was not included in the NAF test:

Mr Durst said:
Tyres for the Autobahn
1) Continental ContiWinter TS830 = 5,3 points (of 10 possible)
2) Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D = 4,8 points
3) Pirelli Sottozero Winter 210 = 5,0 points
4) Goddyear Ultra Grip 7+ = 5 points
5) Michelin Primacy Alpin = 4,8 points
^ Thanks to Mr Durst, a fellow BL/BP Legacy enthusiast, for that contribution. :smile:

I think you meant: "all-season" < "Performance Winter" < "Studless Ice & Snow."
Actually, no, I meant it exactly how I had it. :wink:

"all-season" > "Performance Winter" > "Studless Ice & Snow"

- as what I specifically wrote that in reference to was treadwear. :wink:

Again, that's the typical "rule of thumb," that "all-seasons" will wear longer than "Performance Winters," which will in-turn wear longer than "Studless Ice & Snows."

However, as the examples which I cited well-demonstrates, this is a blanket statement, and isn't necessarily always true, given that some certain "Performance Winters" can certainly wear longer than some certain "all-seasons," and so on.

Although that rule-of-thumb is still decently applicable, one should realize that there are many specific instances where it may not apply.

[ :icon_arrow: :icon_idea: Upon further reflection - that's interesting! I think that's how one chooses to read the >/< ! :biggrin: I think what you are saying is to read it as "all-seasons" wear less than "Performance Winters" which in-turn wears less than "Studless Ice & Snows," reading the comparison signs in a literal manner - whereas I chose to write my responses in the framework of "all seasons" are longer wearing than "Performance Winters" which in-turn are longer lasting than "Studless Ice & Snows." It all depends on how one reads it, I guess!!! :biggrin: I see now how you/your re-wording is correct, too! ]

I was also wondering about tire pressure as well. Seeing as my OEM 17" 215/55 tires are recommended to 30/32 (front/rear) and these are 16" 215/60 tires, what should I set them to? Does the 30/32 baseline still apply or should it be more?
Scrub through the mold-release, first. Even if you found a good setting, now, after the mold-release is exhausted, you may well find that pressure to be less-than-optimal.

But once you're ready to play with tire pressures, you can well start with the door-card figures - and then work up (or down) from there. I tend to start with increments of 2, or, alternatively use the max-cold-minus-10% method, and I tend to initially keep the front-to-rear bias that our Subarus come to be "recommended with," via the manual. However, I don't necessarily abide by anything other than the max-pressure/fill listed for the tire, and will experiment until I've got the right feel. It usually takes me one entire season to figure out my preferred setting.

In your shoes, I would likely start by bumping pressures, front and rear, by 2 PSI each, given the extra sidewall. But again, this would be a simple test-stage, and more than likely, you'll need to further adjust/refine, from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks TSi+WRX. All very helpful and informative. The pressure thing was good to know as I was unsure if the extra volume in the tire (with the larger sidewall than my OEM) would require extra pressure. I will try what you recommend.

And to clarify my suggested correction, I missed your mention of "treadware" and was thinking about another thread that was describing the obvious of what works best in winter conditions: all-seasons (are not as good as) studdless (which are not as good as) studded. ;-)
 

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I have these tires. I've only had one opportunity to use them in the snow, and they were amazing! I would park on an incline on fresh snow (about six inches deep) and never got any spin at all when starting off. If you're going up soon, you should see some nice snow.
I'm running mine at 30 rear 32 front right now... I haven't really tried raising or lowering yet.
Have fun!
David
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have these tires. I've only had one opportunity to use them in the snow, and they were amazing! I would park on an incline on fresh snow (about six inches deep) and never got any spin at all when starting off. If you're going up soon, you should see some nice snow.
I'm running mine at 30 rear 32 front right now... I haven't really tried raising or lowering yet.
Have fun!
David
Right on. Yeah, I'm going up at the end of next week. It is supposed to be raining all next week so it'll be a good test of their abilities. I'm excited :biggrin:
 

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From what I've heard just recently, we will definitely have an opportunity to test our tires.. if they don't close the highway. Big Storm on the way! I'm hoping to go up to Donner Summit area on the 21st.
David
 

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I'll be driving up to Kings Beach on the 21st as well... most likely leaving in the early afternoon so hopefully no road closures then. As long as its light out they typically will just make people put on chains and continue to plow.

...chains... I remember when those used to mean something ;-)
 

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Remember to be careful, guys. :smile:

With any good winter tires, it's all too easy to get going a little *too* fast - remember that you'll still need to exercise caution due the conditions, and that even though forward (or backward) motion may not be a problem, stopping and turning may not be as sharp as you'd expect.

Until you know exactly where the performance boundaries of the tires are, be careful - try staking out an empty parking lot (be sure to pre-scout it for anything that may be dangerous when "buried" in snow, such as extra-large concrete light-pole surrounds or wheel-stop barriers!) to get a good feel for what your tires will do, before you set out to have too much fun on public roads.

I don't have any advanced driving training - winter or otherwise - so when I went out in my wife's WRX to test the Michelin X-Ice Xi2s that I'd shod her with, last winter, I was rather taken aback by just how much velocity I could get up, in how short of a stretch of roadway, despite snow, ice, and slush, as compared to the Dunlop SP WinterSport 3Ds that are on my Legacy. I was very, very glad for the community-college's deserted back parking lot....
 

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Thanks for the warning. You are absolutely right... better safe than sorry. I know of a parking lot close to my destination, and I plan on practicing there. I considered the Michelin X-Ice Xi2's seriously, but I was unable to locate them on short notice.
 

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^ NP. :smile: Since I lack formal training, I thought it would be good to get an understanding of the tires, before coming upon emergency situations on-road - and I'm glad I did, as it showed me how much serious speed I could build up, and how fast...it was unexpected!

I think that part of the problem in locating Xi2s this season is that they're currently somewhat hyped - yes, they're great, but just about every review source makes them out to be the next best thing to sliced bread. :wink: Last season, when they were new/just-introduced, they actually sold relatively slowly. Without any formal reviews to refer to, you could literally see that many end-users on TireRack, who wrote their reviews of their then-new (winter of 2008/9) Xi2s were completely off-base. It's funny how after all of the professional reviews came out, people started changing their tunes.

That goes to show another potential pitfall - for anyone new to winter tires, or tires in general, and looking to make a purchase: although the end-user "survey" database on TireRack and other such Forums are an invaluable tool, they must still be approached with good caution, as you simply never know just how experienced or knowledgeable any particular person may be. For those who either must have the safety/performance margin and/or may be funds-limited, it is often best to simply wait a season, so that the various known-quantity testing/review sources have had a chance to get their hands on the "new" tires and can test them out.

With the Xi2s, I partially trusted the early-on Canadian and overseas reports, as well as took a chance, when I bought them "new," last season. I ended up getting lucky.

A flip side of the story would be the Falken EuroWinters.

It's always a gamble, when you decide to push the envelope! :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Just got back from my trip to Tahoe. One of the best skiing I have done up there (on Friday)! As for the tires, my car was loaded: I had 4 people, 4 people's stuff in the back (with just enough visibility out the back), full-sized spare, 3 skis and a snowboard on top.

The tires performed great! I would have liked some worse conditions to have tried them out in, but I'm not complaining. Caltrans had the roads very well manicured for the conditions. Going up I had to deal with some slush but mostly ice with a small layer of snow. While up on Tahoe it was mostly ice except for the street we were on which was about a foot of snow.

I checked air at 34 front 36 rear because of the full car. Before the winter conditions the rain and dry pavement was very nice, smooth and quiet. Once we hit the snow, slush and ice, acceleration was just as I expected, perfect. I was able to brake just fine in normal conditions (no sudden stops).

At one point I found myself on a residential street with a very steep hill with snow/ice and there was no slipping at all going up. Also, when leaving our cabin and heading to the main road we were left to stop at a stop sign at the bottom of a hill. No problems there.

All in all I'm very happy with my purchase. Could I have done it with all seasons? Yeah. Most other Subaru's were. But I'm glad to know I have an extra layer of security now in bad conditions.

For those of you curious, here are the tires side by side (with the spare):
 
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