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      10-06-2009, 01:04 PM   #1
CliffJumper
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TireRack "Studless Ice/Snow" vs. "Performance Snow" Tires in SoCal

I agree with people who say "There is no best tire; it depends on the situation", so here's my situation:

I live in LA, where it's perfectly fine to use summer performance tires all year round. As much as I'd like to go more often, I only go snowboarding a few times per year. When I do go to the mountains (115 miles to Big Bear, 350 miles to Tahoe), all but the last 10 miles or so are on perfectly clear, dry, and warm (temps around 50-75F) roads. In fact, driving up to Tahoe, I'm generally be able to safely drive around 80-90 mph most of the way.

However, the last 10 miles on summer performance tires can sometimes be perfectly fine... or downright scary and I'll never know which it's going to be at the moment I leave my house.

My options:
  1. Continue to use Summer tires: I've done this for years in my previous cars, and have never had an accident. But, as I get older, more cautious, and own more expensive cars, this idea doesn't appeal to me so much.
  2. Rent an SUV. I've done this a couple of times. The problem is that I LOVE my car. I also hate having to drive 700 miles roundtrip in some lame SUV on a clear open road when I have an M3 in the garage.
  3. Buy a 2nd set of wheels/tires that I ONLY swap on for a trip, and then immediately go back to my regular tires. This means I'll be buying a set to only use for about 6 days per year - not the wisest use of $$

If I go with Option 3, I'm looking for the cheapest tires that do the job well. Long term wear doesn't matter too much, since I won't be doing that many miles on them.

The cheapest tires in the "snow" category that will work for me are the Blizzak WS60 ($600 after rebate) but are "Studless Ice/Snow" tires vs. the cheapest "Performance Snow" is around $750 after rebate.

Given my driving situation, should I buy the V-rated Performance Snow tires vs. the R-rated (max 99mph) Snow/Ice tires. Will the warm weather of SoCal cause the Snow/Ice tires to perform poorly or show extreme wear? Or, since I'm only putting the snow/ice tires on for the days I need them, is it actually better to have the best possible snow/ice traction vs. Performance Snow tires, since they are maybe made for people who need them every day?

Last edited by CliffJumper; 10-06-2009 at 01:23 PM.
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      10-06-2009, 02:40 PM   #2
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Having lived in the SF Bay Area for 10 years, I've made the trip many times, and I know what you mean about the last 10-20 miles to Tahoe or Bear. Why don't you just get a set of chains?

Unless you've lowered the car, that's a very simple, cheap, and effective solution. That's what I did, and I was driving an E30 in those days.
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      10-06-2009, 03:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foosh View Post
Having lived in the SF Bay Area for 10 years, I've made the trip many times, and I know what you mean about the last 10-20 miles to Tahoe or Bear. Why don't you just get a set of chains?

Unless you've lowered the car, that's a very simple, cheap, and effective solution. That's what I did, and I was driving an E30 in those days.
That was something I considered, but:
  1. While getting stuck has been a problem sometimes, my biggest fear is the loss of steering. I've experienced that a few times even while going straight on a road, and I don't believe chains will help that much in that case.
  2. I haven't found chains or cables or tire socks that will fit the stock 19" wheels while also clearing the wheel well. I've only seen chains for SUVs that are much thicker.

Am I wrong on either of those points?
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      10-06-2009, 03:46 PM   #4
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I personally have driven my 335 in big bear and let me tell you, go snow tires or at least some kind of M+S tires. Chains are okay but pretty scary too. Not to mention the possibility of destroying your fenders.
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      10-06-2009, 03:50 PM   #5
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if you are committed to taking your M3 to the slopes, you really don't have a choice but to get a winter set. it sucks justifying the cost of the setup for just a few miles or just a few days a year, but chains aren't really feasible, and the summers could be deadly. its not worth the risk, IMO. just get something cheap through tire rack that will get the job done. or buy something used from somebody on here.
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      10-06-2009, 05:59 PM   #6
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How often do you go? For all the hassle and expense of snow tires and a second set of rims you could just rent a car a few times over.
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      10-06-2009, 06:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by FStop7 View Post
How often do you go? For all the hassle and expense of snow tires and a second set of rims you could just rent a car a few times over.
As I mentioned in the OP, I've rented a car a few times, but:
  1. It's a hassle: I have to get a ride to the car rental place during business hours (non-airport rental locations usually aren't open 24-7), and return it during business hours. It's rather tough and annoying to do w/ my job.
  2. My car rocks: No car that I can rent (usually an SUV to get AWD) is nearly as nice as my M3. When I get a rental, I have to drive 700 miles in a car that's not as fun or comfortable as my M3 and lacking bluetooth for my phone and music from my iPod. I don't get too many opportunities to do road trips w/ my M3, and I like to take whatever opportunities I can. I also have fold-down seats and a roof rack for my M3 so it can easily carry all of my equipment + 3 or 4 other people so a rental won't add any utility.
  3. The drive to Tahoe simply take longer: I don't feel nearly as safe driving at higher speeds (even in dry, open roads) in an SUV or typical sedan as I do in my car. I can't brake or do quick lane changes as well. (I find it amusing that people who criticize me for driving 80mph in my M3 will drive 70mph in their Chevy TrailBlazer, but that's a different thread.... )
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      10-06-2009, 07:00 PM   #8
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Also done both those drives, know exactly what you mean.

1. Chains are a huge pain the arse, plus not sure if ou can even fit them safely on 19", maybe 18.

2. Done the rent a car route, best part is your not as worried at the car but yes the bulk of the drive sucks.

3. If I have to take the M, I'd break down and get a second set of wheels and tires just geared for snow. Easy enough to swap out just before the trip. Downside, ride quality/performance will still suffer.
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      10-06-2009, 07:06 PM   #9
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So, the main question of this thread is:

- "Performance Snow Tires" or "Studless Snow/Ice Tires"??
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      10-06-2009, 07:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffJumper View Post
So, the main question of this thread is:

- "Performance Snow Tires" or "Studless Snow/Ice Tires"??
I hear what you are saying - but renting seems to be the best option - cant imagine buying snow tires when you live in LA! I dont know that drive since I dont live in LA - but Performance Snow Tires sound like the best option if you must. Quiter on the hiway - I assume most of the drive will be in milder temps and no snow or little snow.
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      10-07-2009, 08:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffJumper View Post
As I mentioned in the OP, I've rented a car a few times, but:
  1. It's a hassle: I have to get a ride to the car rental place during business hours (non-airport rental locations usually aren't open 24-7), and return it during business hours. It's rather tough and annoying to do w/ my job.
  2. My car rocks: No car that I can rent (usually an SUV to get AWD) is nearly as nice as my M3. When I get a rental, I have to drive 700 miles in a car that's not as fun or comfortable as my M3 and lacking bluetooth for my phone and music from my iPod. I don't get too many opportunities to do road trips w/ my M3, and I like to take whatever opportunities I can. I also have fold-down seats and a roof rack for my M3 so it can easily carry all of my equipment + 3 or 4 other people so a rental won't add any utility.
  3. The drive to Tahoe simply take longer: I don't feel nearly as safe driving at higher speeds (even in dry, open roads) in an SUV or typical sedan as I do in my car. I can't brake or do quick lane changes as well. (I find it amusing that people who criticize me for driving 80mph in my M3 will drive 70mph in their Chevy TrailBlazer, but that's a different thread.... )
Sounds to me like the best solution is to buy an X5!
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      10-08-2009, 12:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Sounds to me like the best solution is to buy an X5!
Lol... I'm pro-wagon, but anti-SUV. Yes, I'm strange.
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      10-08-2009, 01:37 PM   #13
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Buy all season tires and use them for your a few snowboarding trip and use them as your year around backup set.
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      10-08-2009, 01:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Buy all season tires and use them for your a few snowboarding trip and use them as your year around backup set.
Thanks, but I'm firmly in the camp of "All Seasons Tires = No Season Tires"

I believe in getting the best tires for the situation, and I'd never use all season tires for any purpose since winter in LA is a joke.
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      10-08-2009, 02:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliffJumper View Post
Thanks, but I'm firmly in the camp of "All Seasons Tires = No Season Tires"

I believe in getting the best tires for the situation, and I'd never use all season tires for any purpose since winter in LA is a joke.
+1, I still have a set of dedicated snows that I brought over from Massachusetts and I'll be putting them on in early December.
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      10-08-2009, 02:20 PM   #16
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i'd say go with Performance Snow tires. i have Michelin Pilot Alpin on my car (not M3, i know), they're V-rated (i think, "high-speed" anyway) so you can still hammer it safely on the highway on the way there (better traction on dry pavement than my OEM no-season tires) and at the same time they also got me through the Rockies last December fairly safe... you might sacrifice a little bit when it comes to best traction possible (vs. low -speed dedicated snow tires) in the snow, but at least you're not limited by these tires on dry pavement, which would be 95% of your trip...
just my $ 0.02, but either way i wouldnt take a chance on high-perf summer tires on the snow, regardless of what car you dirve!
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