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2000 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so I'm about to order some General Altimax Arctic's from Tirerack for a cool 75 a piece. My question is what size should I get? Stock is 215/60/16, or should I get narrower ones like 205/60/16 or wider at 225/60/16???
I'm kinda thinking it doesn't really matter with such little differences. my only idea was that the slightly narrower would cut through some deeper snow...thoughts?
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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On our '03, we run 235/50-17 during the summer. My trusted tire guy said it's best to stick with a stock size tire for winter use, so we went with a 215/60-16. :wink:

Bobby...

My MODding Journal
 

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Some ppl's theory says to get thinner because you want to dig through ice/snow/slush versus riding on top, never tried it myself though...
 

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2005 Forester X & XT VF39
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Go with the stock size 215/60/16. It saves you $40 over the 225s, and 205 just seem too skinny to me.

I put 225/55/17 snow tires on my XT because they were $40 cheaper than the same tires in a 215/55/17.
 

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"Narrower is better" in an absolute sense, and yes, it's more than academic, difference can and do become apparent, real-world.

But if you're comparing a 205 tire to a 215, or a 215 versus a 225 - with the caveat that you're comparing the SAME EXACT TIRE, otherwise (same brand/model) - there's just not that much difference. Luke of TireRack once half-joked that you're going to have to have a last name of Andretti or Schumacher, to be able to feel such difference. :wink:

However, going from a 205 to, say, a 225 - even average drivers like myself can indeed feel a difference.

[ Note: I again want to highlight that this is on a "same tire otherwise" comparison. Although 215 to 205 may seem like a lot, that 10 mm's worth of difference in section width is actually much trickier to quantify, particularly if you're comparing between two different tires. "Width" is, based on tire, itself variable (section width as a function of standardized rim width, versus tread width), and also will depend on the changes in inflation pressure (no, not a one or two PSI drop, but rather, say that you'd neglected pressures for a month, and pair that with a more drastic swing in weather, as typical of storm fronts - you've then got, potentially, a 4-5 PSI difference on your hands). ]

But there are also other considerations.

VeeCe, you listed:

205/60/16
215/60/16
225/60/16

There's going to be differences there in terms of sidewall, radius/diameter, and circumference - between the two extremes, the 205 and the 225, of 60 aspect-ratio and 16-inch rim diameter, you're looking at a theoretical half-inch's worth of extra sidewall "height" with the 225 versus the 205, and with a circumference increase that'll translate to a near 4% difference on your speedo.

That aside, yes, theoretically, "narrower is better" is the Golden Rule of winter-tire buying. It allows you to "cut through" the wintry stuff better.

But get too extreme, and you could be putting your rims at more risk (too narrow on any rim would risk the "hella-flush" look, which leaves the rims exposed to curbing/pothole damage), and you could also be bumping the aspect-ratio high enough that, when combined with the taller treadblocks as well as "more flexy" winter tire compounds, lead to even worse road-feel than what you'd already be compromising for.

And as a final consideration, there's also fitment-based selection as well as expense issues, too. There are several "common" sizing of winter tires, which are typically more affordable than the less-common. That's easy enough to reason :smile:, but one should also remember that in seeking the less common sizing, you might run into trouble too late or too early in the season, in terms of availability.
 

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Veece-
Despite the younger bucks guessing on this topic, the wider and lower the profiled tire that they like for summer and curvy roads SUCK in deep snow.
But they're not entirely wrong, as you've given them such a small range of sizes to choose from.
The most ideal snow tire for deep snow is the tallest and narrowest tire you can put on (that has enough sq. inches of surface area to safely carry the load)...if they'd fit, a 165-85-16 would work.
The idea is that you want linear square footage (lets say instead of a wide low profile tire who's ground surface contact patch is 12" wide by 4" long, you'd want to choose a 4" wide by 12" long patch...same weight carrying ability, but the wide profile tire has a really 'brief' linear patch. And creates a dam of snow in front of itself. A narrow tall tire has a 'lengthy' linear patch and has minimal 'damming' effect, and does a much better job of 'cutting' through the snow.
All that said, you'll do best with the one that provides you with the greatest ground clearance, as the Suburu's AWD will run in deep snow until it starts plowing it with the underside, then it's time for a 'momentum' tactic.
More important here than tire size, is tire tread design...get directional (self cleaning) tread design for deep snow, or the snow will just 'pack' into the tread voids, and make a 'slick' out of your tire.
-Quick (who runs with Hakapeliita 2 studded snow tires in 225-65-16, and kicks butt in Anchorage Alaska...;>)

Ok, so I'm about to order some General Altimax Arctic's from Tirerack for a cool 75 a piece. My question is what size should I get? Stock is 215/60/16, or should I get narrower ones like 205/60/16 or wider at 225/60/16???
I'm kinda thinking it doesn't really matter with such little differences. my only idea was that the slightly narrower would cut through some deeper snow...thoughts?
 

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2016 Outback and WRX CVT
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Veece-
Despite the younger bucks guessing on this topic, the wider and lower the profiled tire that they like for summer and curvy roads SUCK in deep snow.
But they're not entirely wrong, as you've given them such a small range of sizes to choose from.
Exactly - speaking in terms of absolutes, the old adage of "as narrow as possible" is indeed correct: it simply holds true, to the laws of physics. :smile:

However, just as you said, when the choices are limited to what the end-user is willing to run - in this case, going from a stock section with of 215 either down to 205 or up to 225, there just isn't much noticeable real-world difference to be had, either way.

All that said, you'll do best with the one that provides you with the greatest ground clearance, as the Suburu's AWD will run in deep snow until it starts plowing it with the underside, then it's time for a 'momentum' tactic.
Agreed - "plowing" is doable for shorter distances, but it's not going to be a good thing, running long. Similarly, we're only good until we get high-centered. Any which way its cut, the more ground clearance in the winter, the better, when facing the white stuff that's piling up.

However, there's one trade-off, and it's one that the end-user must be willing to make.

With increased sidewall height, the "imprecise" subjective feel of the tires (typically generated from both taller treadblocks as well as the compounding of winter tires) will be accentuated, and while this won't typically be a problem when the driver's plowing through snowpiles or skating on icier surfaces, it's going to become more of an issue if the driver commutes for-distance at highway speeds and/or if he/she expects or wants a more-connected, "performance," feel.

This is a critical issue for the end-user to dissect, based on his/her preferences and needs.

More important here than tire size, is tire tread design...
^ This is true more for snow traction than ice traction.

Michelin's tire engineers currently state that snow traction is based nearly 2/3 in tread design (both fine details, i.e. sipping, as well as rough. i.e. tread-block considerations - large, multifaceted, tread blocks with deep voids typical of the classic "M+S" designation, and also design considerations such as snow-"breaks/brakes") and 1/3 on compounding, whereas engineering for ice traction - without studs - places only 1/3 on tread design, but with 2/3 on compounding (i.e. "micropumps" to evacuate the rendered water layer of compacted ice away from the tread surface, to effect grip), which we see most evident in the "Studless Ice & Snow" genre.

But on ice, all of that modern technology pales in comparison to the honored and venerable studs. :smile: And given that modern premium studded tires can well outperform even the best "Studless Ice & Snows" in criteria where, previously, traditional beliefs have led many to think, even currently, that "studs are bad," for those whose area laws allow the use of studs, as well as for those whose driving habits/preferences mesh well with their use, I truly believe that they can truly and honestly be the best choice for those who need it most.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Right, well I wasn't going for some WRC Norway wheels, but non the less I didn't want to do something stupid. I think the size really depends on what snow your going through vs. how heavy your car is. Anyway, went looking for some price quotes around town yesterday, great year dealer quoted me $477 for Hankook Winter iPike W409's. That included mount, balance, insurance, lifetime rotation, disposal and alignment. The tire itself priced out at $87 a piece, which is less than discount, but more than tirerack's general's...which are the same, at least same tread pattern.
So far, with around 50 miles on them, I'm ridiculousness pleased! They are quiet as sin, incredibly smooth, and ride 100 times better than the 215/55/16's that were on it before. And did I mention how F'n sweet the tread looks? Now pray for snow or go find a ditch!
 

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^ Glad you're sorted out!

Wait a few more miles before you really push the tires - remember, they've still got their mold-release, and until you scrub through that, they're not going to perform as well as they can. :smile:

The iPike W409s are a very good performance (that is, snow and ice)-for-money compromise! :smile:
 

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Veece-
You've been given good advice by TSi+WRX (well, he and I probably disagree on tire 'compliance' with taller sidewalls, the number of plies and the load rating can solve that, when tire air pressure isn't able to remedy it), and hopefully you'll not need studs. ALthough the Minnesota I know, I'd think you'd have wanted them...the alternative is to put on chains or cables...you sound like a young guy, you'll probably enjoy the experience. For the first time or two...;>)
-Quick

^ Glad you're sorted out!

Wait a few more miles before you really push the tires - remember, they've still got their mold-release, and until you scrub through that, they're not going to perform as well as they can. :smile:

The iPike W409s are a very good performance (that is, snow and ice)-for-money compromise! :smile:
 

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^ You know, that's a great point - I agree :smile: , depending on the precise tire you've chosen, you indeed *can* restore the sidewall stiffness.

I mis-spoke and/or spoke imprecisely :redface: - my apologies.

What I meant, specifically, was the direct comparison of "Studless Ice and Snow" and also studded tires - as compared to their "Performance Winter" counterparts.

I should not have spoken so precisely as to have made it into such a generalized statement - my apologies! :redface:

What I had intended with that statement was to highlight the fundamental difference between the two most commonly used genres of modern winter tires - "Studless Ice & Snow," versus "Performance Winter."

The former trades-off higher-speed "precision" and subjective feel for increased capabilities in wintry precip., while the latter biases itself more-so in terms of recapturing that "performance tire" feel on clear roads, but is notably weaker when it comes to deeper snow and also icy-precip. performance, as compared to their counterparts in the other genre.

I feel that, more than anything, the winter tire buyer must first make this distinction, before they can go any farther. :smile:
 

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TSI-
You are of course correct!
Going beyond the limitations of our wheelwell sizes, I've found that another point to consider in the tire design, is the ratio of the tire patch that is voids versus actual rubber in contact with pavement. As long as the needed square inches per pound requirement is met for weight load, the opportunity to optimize tire voids (read volume of water or slush or snow within contact patch) by increasing contact patch sized is there. In concert with tread designs that disperse that volume, these two considerations are primary to winter performance. Some designs I've noticed have progressively larger volume going from tread interior to where the voids are 'exhausted' out to the side of the tire. I'm guessing that would come under optimizing...
-Quick
 

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^ I had to read that twice (I'm not an engineer!), but that does seem reasonable and logical to me, too! :smile:

I guess that's why I still can't keep up with the "Monster Trucks," when the going gets rough!

Some designs I've noticed have progressively larger volume going from tread interior to where the voids are 'exhausted' out to the side of the tire. I'm guessing that would come under optimizing...
^ Indeed, that is most interesting. I'll have to take a closer look at this -

I am definitely no tire guru, but what's amazed me about tires overall (not just winter) is just how much is dependent on the actual tread design. Even more apparent that this is the case is how closely related, it seems, the tread designs happen to be at the top-tier level of performance. Certainly, it is expected that some tires bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, given shared parental lineage, but this also bears out at the "parent" level.

I guess you can only push things so far, before physics start to dictate "optimal!" :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Lot's o tire talk:icon_eek: Going to stay stud less with these considering the amount of clean road driving I'll be doing, I'm used to driving snow with terrible tires, so I'm just excited for some great off road excursions!
One more question, what PSI should I run in these? Haven't checked what they were installed with considering my gauge is all froze up, but I'll have to give them a check tomorrow. Any thoughts on were to keep them?
 

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Lot's o tire talk:icon_eek: Going to stay stud less with these considering the amount of clean road driving I'll be doing...
^ If you are worried about the studs negatively impacting clear-road performance, don't. :smile:

That's now a thing of years past.

Modern premium studded winter tires outperform their comparable non-studded premium "Studless Ice & Snows" in virtually all testing scenarios - look at these, from the NAF:

Vinterdekktest 2009. Test av piggdekk og piggfrie dekk - NAF

Quoting from LegacyGT.com Forum winter-tire guru outahere:

outahere said:
In the 2009 Scandinavian tire test, the Michelin Xi2 had the best ice braking performance of the 8 non-studded tires, but even so it could not outbrake any of the 14 studded tires on ice, not even the lowly studded Nankang tire.

Compared to the Nokian Hakka7, the Xi2 required 42' more in braking distance on ice, from 50 km/hr. The Michelin Primacy Alpin required 87' more feet to stop than the Hakka7!
And in response to the old saying that studded winter tires are "dangerous" in clear but wet conditions?

outahere said:
Dangerous? Slippery on pavement? That may have been true 20 years ago for studded tires, but it is no longer a valid generalization.

From the 2009 test referenced earlier, the Michelin Xi2 required 37.2m to come to a stop on wet pavement from 80 km/hr whereas the studded Hakka7 required 37.4m

In that test, 13 of the studded tires outbraked 6 of the non-studded tires on wet pavement.

The shortest wet braking distance went to the Michelin Primacy Alpin, at 27.8m, but it had the longest braking distance on ice of all the tires tested at 75.5m.
Yes, a lot of the "second string" studded tires that we have available here in North-America may not necessarily perform as well, in the clear, as the premium "Studless Ice & Snows" that we have access to, here - but if you really looked for a supplier for the premium studded tires, those are truly not worries.

To me, the only valid justifications against studded tires are those of regional legality/restrictions (with some regions limiting them so severely that you're left with the potential of possibly facing wintry weather at both the beginning and tail-ends of the periods) as well as the end-user's personal preferences (i.e. NVH, highway travel, etc.).

If you really *need* studs, don't let their past stigma keep you from pursuing them.

Tire technology improves EVERY SEASON, and in terms of premium studded tires, they no longer carry the same clear-weather performance compromise they used to.

:smile:

One more question, what PSI should I run in these? Haven't checked what they were installed with considering my gauge is all froze up, but I'll have to give them a check tomorrow. Any thoughts on were to keep them?
If you're using factory/OEM sizing, start with what's on your door-card or manual.

But two things conspire against you. :icon_razz:

First, every tire is different. This also applies, even moreso, obviously, if you've changed any aspect of tire sizing. So what this means is that you'll have to experiment a little. Typically, it takes me a few weeks to a few months to get the pressures to where I want them, and that doesn't always correspond with what's on the door-card or manual. Remember, a lot of it is also how *you* feel about the tires, as *you* are driving.

Second, your tires are now new. They're still a bit "greasy" from the mold-release compounds - let them "break in" a bit, for a few hundred miles, before you really start any true assessment and before you start playing with pressures. Otherwise, you might find that what you've worked so hard to achieve now, may not necessarily hold true, later, after they've scrubbed through their mold-release.

:smile:
 

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^ OMG! That would be awesome! :smile: Google Translation is shady! :big_grin:

But it's a heck of a lot of stuff to translate! :redface:

I'm a firm believer in that the best reviews come from our snow/ice-bound brothers and sisters from across the oceans. We North-Americans, particularly us Americans, have quite a bit of catching-up to do, in this respect.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Again, more questions! What speed can I run at, say freeway speed, like is 80 too fast, mainly for adverse tire wear. And then how much faster do these tires wear?
 

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^ OMG! That would be awesome! :smile: Google Translation is shady! :big_grin:

But it's a heck of a lot of stuff to translate! :redface:

I'm a firm believer in that the best reviews come from our snow/ice-bound brothers and sisters from across the oceans. We North-Americans, particularly us Americans, have quite a bit of catching-up to do, in this respect.
Well if the google translater can get the charts translated right. you should get the whole test result right there. No need to read the rest. The top chart is for studless tires and the one below is for studded. Nothing more to it really
 
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