Snow Tires Without Studs Are Worthless.

Ws6

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There. I said it. They're an expensive, short-lived rip-off. I know, I know, I done gone and attacked a sacred cow...but I can do it with both personal experience, and data. I first came to this conclusion after buying Nokian WRG3 SUV tires. They didn't do a darn thing in the ice and snow better than my LX20's that were near worn out, at the time. They were loud. They hydroplaned. They handled poorly. And to top it off, they didn't grip any better at all in snow and ice.

FFWD a few years and I changed vehicles, and got some CrossContact LX25's. These things make my AWD SUV a true tank in the snow (albeit a light one...). So it got me to wondering...why the heck do people bother with snow tires if they won't stud them? I looked at the data, and I think the only reason they do it is because they are stuck in the past when it mattered more/older technology was prevalent, or because they are just super susceptible to marketing.

First, this is a short video of me driving with my LX25's. Solid.

Next up is the data. We are sadly not able to compare on the same day, or same vehicle, but part of the "Snow tires! YOU NEED THEM!" argument is also predicated on "Your vehicle doesn't matter, AWD doesn't matter, FWD with snows all day long over All-season and AWD!".

The only category in which the true snow tires bested the CrossContact LX25 was "stopping on ice", and both were pretty dismal, with a roughly 25% advantage to the snow tire. Stopping on snow, actually favored the LX25 over the snow tires. You will note that 20mph was used for the snow stop with snow tires, and 25, for the all-seasons, making the LX25's victory all that much more impressive.

The sedan with true snow tires performed worse lap times than the Q5 2.0 with LX25's.




So again, if we are to argue about things other than tires...doesn't this also defeat the "Snow tires are better than even the best AWD blah blah blah..." argument? It really paints the "Snow tires are best" crowd into a nasty corner where you're forced to admit that what vehicle you drive, even of similar weight, etc. matters more than snow tires or not, or to admit that a good all season is just as good as a snow tire. Either way, I won't ever be buying snow tires unless they are studded, because both my experience, and empirical data, seems to indicate that they are pretty poor purchase choices. I'll stick with quality AWD vehicles and excellent all season tires because:

-All wheel drive and a good system helps with a myriad of situations and is always there for you.
-All season tires last a lot longer and typically cost less (As you note, the ones in my video are 45K miles old and still doing great).
-All season tires are much safer in the rain typically, and handle better, are quieter, and ride better.
 
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Interesting viewpoints

Last snowstorm we had, my trusty '06 Camry made a mockery of some very expensive and sophisticated AWD vehicles, without a $400+ monthly payment

Guy I passed in a 4Runner TRD was more than a little hurt🤣, so I got out and gave him a hand to get moving again, kinda felt bad

Nothing but some knowledge of vehicle control and a little selective momentum :D got me wherever I wanted to go

And probably some places I shouldn't have, police turned me away from several locations as too dangerous

Ran my neighbors down to the store for prescriptions and milk because their army of Rav4/Rogue/QX60/X5 couldn't get out of the driveway nevermind off the block

All it cost me was a $700~ set of Continental VikingContact7 snow tires

I think you got a mediocre set of snow tires, and didn't get the increase in traction that you felt entitled to

I OTOH, did

I guess like everything in life, YMMV 🤔
 
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12,950
Location
North Carolina
Interesting viewpoints

Last snowstorm we had, my trusty '06 Camry made a mockery of some very expensive and sophisticated AWD vehicles, without a $400+ monthly payment

Guy I passed in a 4Runner TRD was more than a little hurt🤣, so I got out and gave him a hand to get moving again, kinda felt bad

Nothing but some knowledge of vehicle control and a little selective momentum :D got me wherever I wanted to go

And probably some places I shouldn't have, police turned me away from several locations as too dangerous

Ran my neighbors down to the store for prescriptions and milk because their army of Rav4/Rogue/QX60/X5 couldn't get out of the driveway nevermind off the block

All it cost me was a $700~ set of Continental VikingContact7 snow tires

I think you got a mediocre set of snow tires, and didn't get the increase in traction that you felt entitled to

I OTOH, did

I guess like everything in life, YMMV 🤔
Before i had a 4wd truck, i ran studded tires on the front of fwd cars, everthing from grand am, cutlass ciera, calais , even a saturn. They worked great, i personally would not run a snow tire with out studs.
But i imagine there is a difference in climate. Way up north probably more snow, less pure ice, and you run snows all winter, i can see not using studs there.
But in NC its warmer, a lot of melt and refreeze meaning solid slick sheets of ice. I would swap the studs on just for the storm and as soon as it cleared swap them back off again.

Pulled a lot of hospital call on studded tires in the 80's.
 

Ws6

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The WRG3 isn't a snow tire; it's an all-season tire. It's a 3-peak all-season that's supposed to be better in snow than regular all-season tires.

Nokian's true winter tires are the Hakka R3 (non-studded), Hakka 9 and 10 (studded); and Hakka LT3 (available with or without studs)
That's fine. Did you review the test data showing the Xi3, WS80 Blizzak, IG52c, and WinterMaxx WM01 all doing worse than the LX25's? Those are "real" winter tires, too. Still not any better. It's all in the OP.

ETA: When you get into studded winter tires, I readily agree they matter.
 
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That's fine. Did you review the test data showing the Xi3, WS80 Blizzak, IG52c, and WinterMaxx WM01 all doing worse than the LX25's? Those are "real" winter tires, too. Still not any better. It's all in the OP.

That data can only be compared within the same category. Notice that neither TR test you linked to has an all-season and a winter tire in the same test. In addition, different vehicles were used (a RWD sports sedan vs an AWD crossover)
 

Ws6

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That data can only be compared within the same category. Notice that neither TR test you linked to has an all-season and a winter tire in the same test. In addition, different vehicles were used (a RWD sports sedan vs an AWD crossover)
So you're saying just get an AWD vehicle and you don't need snows? Hmmm? Seems like you're arguing the vehicle is enough to make up for the tire, eh? This is so different from "AWD won't help you turn!" and all the other mess I kept reading in those "You need snow tires!" threads, isn't it?

Also, since you don't plan on running their exact course (tires tested on different days, you're arguing it has no comparison merit? Again, a definite back-pedal on the typical "you need snow tires" argument that typically involves a "sample of 1" story about someone passing someone else with their awesome snow tires while their 4Runner is in the ditch... I guess if I don't go on that exact drive, the anecdotal story is meaningless?

We are now in the realm of "Snow tires are only better if you test them on the same vehicle on the same course, otherwise they may not perform better enough to notice if data is tabulated." I mean, that's literally what you're arguing. A very weak argument for an expensive tire that lasts only 20K miles at best, indeed!
 

Ws6

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More apples to oranges... but AWD Cayenne V6 with wider tires.


The only thing the LX25 did better was acceleration than the Yoko's.
What's wild is that the Yokahama snow tire only stopped 2.3 feet sooner on ice than the LX25. For snow, the snow tires stopped 5-6 feet sooner. I know you can argue that "That's plenty enough to hit the bumper in front of you", but when we are talking 53 ft vs 59 ft, it gets pretty hard to argue in the real world, I think. The lap times are a legit improvement, though. A full 10 seconds.

You make a valid point though, as have I. It appears that between an awesome all-season, and a dedicated snow tire, the vehicle will matter more than the tire, and when it doesn't, the differences will be pretty minimal.

Again, this goes against the old "I'd take a FWD on snow tires over a AWD vehicle on all-seasons!" argument, when we are able to find various vehicles t at overlap performance matrices independent of the tire.

*I would also note that the wider tires are going to "grab" more snow and ice and stop quicker/accelerate quicker. I think this may well be a tire-size deal, so again, overlap.
 
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Idaho
Next up is the data. We are sadly not able to compare on the same day, or same vehicle....
.....or the same tire size, or the same vehicle weight, or the same ABS braking system, or the same test temperatures, or the same tire pressures.

Too many uncontrolled variables for a valid comparison of the LX25 to the winter tires.
 
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down in the park
So you're saying just get an AWD vehicle and you don't need snows? Hmmm? Seems like you're arguing the vehicle is enough to make up for the tire, eh? This is so different from "AWD won't help you turn!" and all the other mess I kept reading in those "You need snow tires!" threads, isn't it?

Also, since you don't plan on running their exact course (tires tested on different days, you're arguing it has no comparison merit? Again, a definite back-pedal on the typical "you need snow tires" argument that typically involves a "sample of 1" story about someone passing someone else with their awesome snow tires while their 4Runner is in the ditch... I guess if I don't go on that exact drive, the anecdotal story is meaningless?

We are now in the realm of "Snow tires are only better if you test them on the same vehicle on the same course, otherwise they may not perform better enough to notice if data is tabulated." I mean, that's literally what you're arguing. A very weak argument for an expensive tire that lasts only 20K miles at best, indeed!

The vehicle matters aswell. Not all vehicles cope with snow and ice the same, regardless if they have AWd or RWD or FWD. Traction control, ESP and ABS can be a blessing or a curse depending how it's programmed, and how good the sensors are.

The winter setting on my car doesn't allow any wheel slip or sidestepping to occur without interfering. Similar to run of the mill traction control and ESP, except that it doesn't flash lights at you if it's only a limited response. This works great on clear roads and you hit a slippery patch, like black ice, or aquaplane. But if you're standing on ice or snow, it kills a lot of the traction. Luckily i can chose a slightly less restrictive mode, or sporets mode, which is brilliant to get going on snow and ice. Sports mode also lets the car go wide before esp intervenes, also helpful on snow and ice if you are aware that you are in fact on ice.

Haven't got into any dicy situations with either summers, all-season (what I normally run in winter) or full studless winter tyres. I prefer all-seasons in winter because I'm guaranteed cold and wet weather, but not snow. When it does snow, I'm going to go no faster than traffic is going so who needs mega traction?

Wider tyres can be a blessing or curse aswell, all depends what's under the snow. If it's more snow you might aswell not dig in until your bumper becomes a snow shovel. If it's ice, you don't want to dig to that either so that could be situations a wider tyre helps. If there's ground or gravel or concrete under the snow it could help to have narrower tyres and try to reach down there.
 

Pew

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Illinois
I agree that a car with a decent AWD system and good all-seasons like the DWS06 is much better than a FWD/RWD with snow tires but that's a lot more dependent on the tire. The Michelin Pilot A/S3+ is nowhere as good as the DWS06 in the snow but much better in the dry and wet so it's a tradeoff on what "style" all-season to get.

However even a good A/S like the WS06 would not give me the confidence that a good studless snow tire like the Goodyear UltraGrip Ice WRT does.

That test is way inconclusive to me, as different vehicles were used as well. Heavier vehicle + AWD to manage power to all wheels versus a car where only power can be sent to two wheels while the other two have to rely on ABS. A better comparison would be this one from TireRack that used the same model car for the tests.
 
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I agree that a car with a decent AWD system and good all-seasons like the DWS06 is much better than a FWD/RWD with snow tires but that's a lot more dependent on the tire. The Michelin Pilot A/S3+ is nowhere as good as the DWS06 in the snow but much better in the dry and wet so it's a tradeoff on what "style" all-season to get.

However even a good A/S like the WS06 would not give me the confidence that a good studless snow tire like the Goodyear UltraGrip Ice WRT does.

That test is way inconclusive to me, as different vehicles were used as well. Heavier vehicle + AWD to manage power to all wheels versus a car where only power can be sent to two wheels while the other two have to rely on ABS. A better comparison would be this one from TireRack that used the same model car for the tests.
The Pilot A/S 4 upped the game

 
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Ws6

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I agree that a car with a decent AWD system and good all-seasons like the DWS06 is much better than a FWD/RWD with snow tires but that's a lot more dependent on the tire. The Michelin Pilot A/S3+ is nowhere as good as the DWS06 in the snow but much better in the dry and wet so it's a tradeoff on what "style" all-season to get.

However even a good A/S like the WS06 would not give me the confidence that a good studless snow tire like the Goodyear UltraGrip Ice WRT does.

That test is way inconclusive to me, as different vehicles were used as well. Heavier vehicle + AWD to manage power to all wheels versus a car where only power can be sent to two wheels while the other two have to rely on ABS. A better comparison would be this one from TireRack that used the same model car for the tests.
1) I really appreciate their methodology. That is an excellent test.
2) That test is over a decade old (performed Feb, 2008). Tires have evolved. Significantly.
3) They refuse to list the make/model of tires used for the test, so we have no clue what we are actually looking at.

Check this test out. It's still several years old, and several generations of tire out of date, but you can see how the all-season and snow tire performance gap has massively narrowed since 2008.

I would love to see a CURRENT comparison between excellent snow tires and a leading all-season like the LX25 or similar that makes use of the newest compounds, etc. We still are not told what all-seasons were used for the above test.

This is an older article by Popular Mechanics, as well. They found all-seasons only lost 5-20% performance compared to snow tires(Good Year Ultra Grip Ice) in their tests. They used Goodyear Integrity All Season tires. They also opined: "The consensus was that in coming years all-seasons are going to edge closer to winter tires in terms of cold-weather performance." Of note, Goodyear Integry tires are absolute trash. For THESE to come within 5-20% of an actual snow tire...

Noone seems to pit a high end all-season against snow tires. It's always junk like the Integrity, etc. I have yet to find an actual comparo worth making without cross-comparing tests.
 

Ws6

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here you go for comparisons
Looks like a good all season like the LX25 is right there with the snow tires, per the last test. The Nokian performs similar to the LX25/Quatrac/etc. tires in snow/ice
 
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I agree 100% with you. Yes every area is different, but put here it’s hard to justify snow tires for the 5 times a year that you really need them because they haven’t plowed the roads. As I said in my other post, I’m impressed with the 3PMSF rated tires I just got, they even got over the ice dam at the end of my driveway with no issues.
 
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Ws6

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I agree 100% with you. Yes every area is different, but put here it’s hard to justify snow tires for the 5 times a year that you really need them because they haven’t plowed the roads. As I said in my other post, I’m impressed with the 3PMSF rated tires I just got, they even got over the ice dam at the end of my driveway with no issues.
Plowed or unplowed roads don't affect me really with the LX25's. I drove them before they were plowed, and after. Only had about 4-5" or so of snow on them though.
 
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As stated, the WRG3 tires you complain about aren't winter tires. The are "all weather" tires. If you live where winter actually exists for 6 months out of the year, dedicated winter tires make sense. It's not always about the 5 feet of difference in a stopping test, but actual real world corners, intersections and traffic where you feel the difference. Not sure where "south central US" is, but in the north, unstudded winters have their place. Tests take the tires to their limits, but its the 30-60% performance where you notice a difference. ABS and traction control nannies kick in at 90-100%.
 
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