Author Topic: Colorado--winter tire options?  (Read 4773 times)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Colorado--winter tire options?
« on: November 11, 2014, 09:44:21 PM »
I've never lived in a snowy climate before and I'm a little bewildered. Do I need special tires for winter? Then what would I do with my regular tires all winter? Or should I have chains? I drive an old Honda Accord, so obviously I don't have 4WD or anything. Help!

yoga mama

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2014, 09:50:27 PM »
You don't need them, no.  Some people do get winter studded tires on their regular cars and swear by them, but really most of the winter is not too bad.  Just reduce your speed and give yourself extra time to get where you're going. 

We do have some slick roads right now but usually we only get a handful of days in the winter where the sun doesn't melt everything on the road pretty quickly.  Welcome to Colorado! :)  I'm in Denver and have never had any special tires.  I currently drive a Prius.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2014, 10:04:06 PM »
Buying a second set of rims and wrapping them in winter tires was one of the best decisions i've made car-wise.

Winter tires aren't just for snow and ice.  They're also cold weather tires that are designed for sub 50 degree temperatures and will help even your dry traction and comfort significantly.  When it does snow, they simply can't be beat.  Simply put, I would rather drive a front heavy, rear wheel drive car with proper winter tires in the snow than I would an AWD car with all-seasons.  AWD gets you going, but once you're in motion there's no advantage.  You really need proper shoes.

No need to go for studded tires unless you're in a severe winter climate.  Studless winter tires have come a long way in the last 10 years.  I have a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks and they get my highest recommendation. 

Do it.  You'll thank me later.

nedwin

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2014, 09:51:04 AM »
I've never believed that winter tires were worth the extra expense in Colorado.  Like others have said, the snow usually melts off the roads pretty quickly.  But I've only lived in cold climates (CO, WY, AK), so I have lots of experience with snow.  In CO I've only used all seasons.  And I also have only driven Honda Accords.  If I lived in the mountains I would probably have a different outlook.  However, if you have unfamiliar and uncomfortable driving in snow, winter tires would provide you with more confidence.  Bridgestone Blizzaks and Nokian Hakepaleta come to mind as good winter tires.

When we lived in AK, we did buy studded snow tires for one of our vehicles.  They made a big difference when driving on snow packed roads, but I was unconvinced that they helped much at all on ice.  After one season we put them on a set of steel wheels, which was much more convenient.  We stored the other set of wheels/tires in our garage.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 10:02:25 AM »
I should also add that buying a separate set of rims for winter tires and swapping them out seasonally can be fairly cost effective, as well.  As long as you have the space to store the unused tires and can do the swaps yourself, your only real expenses are upfront costs.  Once you get into the swapping cycle, you're not eating any costs really because you're saving mileage on the unused set.  My summer/all season tires last much longer because they aren't used during the winter and vice versa.  So instead of buying 1 set of tires every 3 years or so, I'm really buying 2 sets of tires every 6 years or so (using overly simplified math here). 

Then again, I have a large garage, a tire mounting machines, and teeny 15" tires that made for a mere $450 investment for me ($300 for the blizzaks, $150 for the rims, self mounting/balancing).  This can be near $1000 for most people with larger tires, no expertise in mounting, and most importantly those damn federally-mandated TPMS sensors (which my car does not have). 

Anyway, something to think about.  I can't stop raving about my blizzaks. 

nereo

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2014, 10:05:12 AM »
I've never lived in a snowy climate before and I'm a little bewildered. Do I need special tires for winter? Then what would I do with my regular tires all winter? Or should I have chains? I drive an old Honda Accord, so obviously I don't have 4WD or anything. Help!
+ 1 to what TheThirstyStag said.  Winter tires are incredibly helpful, even when the pavement is dry.  All rubber gets harder when it gets cold - winter tires are made from a softer rubber to begin with, so when it is below 50F they still offer great grip on the road.

I wouldn't use chains - they are for really bad conditions when you should't be driving anyway and you can't drive very fast (most limit you to ~35mph) when you have them on your car.  They also tear roads up.

Storing them is always an issue - mine are under my deck during the summer, covered by a tarp.


GuitarStv

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2014, 10:06:24 AM »
What do winter tires do for you?

- Better traction below 7C on all road conditions
- MUCH shorter stopping distance on snow and ice
- MUCH better handling on snow and ice (you won't spin out as easily and get stuck going up hills)

You also get reduced wear on your regular tires since 1/4 of the year you're using the winter ones.  The costs are pretty minimal all things considered.  Put them on steel rims and you can change them yourself each year in about 20 minutes.  The cheapest tires with the mountain and snowflake icon on them will be better in the cold than the best all season tires money can buy.


You can make it through the winter just fine without winter tires . . . but it's safer with them.  This is doubly true if you're not used to driving in winter conditions.  I live in Canada, we get snow every year here . . . and every time we do there are dozens of accidents because people forget how to drive in the winter.

LifestyleDeflation

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2014, 10:19:44 AM »
I'll echo other posters here on saying you can really go either way. If you aren't accustomed to driving in the snow, I'd get them for peace of mind. That being said, CO snow tends to be much less treacherous than many places in the country, since it is typically either dry powder or completely melted- as opposed to Tahoe snow, for instance, which frequently melts and refreezes into an icy mess.

If you're not going to get snow tires, you should definitely carry chains in case things get bad. Last season I was living in Breckenridge and occasionally commuting to Longmont in my Honda fit with manual transmission. There were some times where things were sketchy, but for the most part, driving in Tahoe ice for years had acclimated me to it, so I felt comparatively comfortable.

Louis the Cat

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2014, 10:26:37 AM »
We moved from Indiana to Colorado 4 years ago and had never had snow tires until we bought a car (after the move) that came with a spare set of rims with snow tires. Since we had them, we put them on when the time came and it was an amazing difference. It's easier to start and stop and I feel more comfortable in general. I drive just as cautiously as I do with all season tires but sometimes, with all seasons, cautious isn't enough where with snow tires, it is.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2014, 10:39:15 AM »
I had to drive my three-year-old to school this morning and was sliding all over the place on a few inches of snow. Frankly, I'm not a natural or confident driver and never have been. I don't think I should make a habit of driving my kids around like that. So... winter tires ASAP!

Thing is, we live in a rental with no storage to speak of. I could probably clear enough space in the large crawl-through closet. I have a few follow-up questions because of the short time frame:

1. Is having an extra set of rims the only way to go?
2. Anyone know offhand a place in Denver (we're in southeast) where I could get used rims? Or is it easier/more cost effective to buy them with the tires?
3. We have no car no-how but I think we have a jack. Checking the air pressure in my tires is about the limits of my abilities. Is changing the tires ourselves realistic?
4. Cheapest place to buy workable snow tires? The car is almost 16 years old and my husband hates it, so I don't want to sink a ton of money into it.

GuitarStv

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2014, 11:07:53 AM »
1.  No, it's just the easiest/cheapest way to go.
2.  You could check at junk yards.  New steel rims are pretty cheap though.
3.  You should have a jack in your car, next to your spare tire and tire iron.  If you don't . . . get one so you can use your spare tire!  To change tires you do the following:
  - jack up car
  - unscrew bolts with tire iron
  - replace tire
  - screw bolts back on
I have faith in your abilities to do this.  The only tricky part is sometimes the bolts are stuck on very hard, so you might need to give the tire iron a few kicks to work the bolt free.
4.  ?

nereo

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Re: Colorado--winter tire options?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2014, 11:08:10 AM »

1. Is having an extra set of rims the only way to go?
2. Anyone know offhand a place in Denver (we're in southeast) where I could get used rims? Or is it easier/more cost effective to buy them with the tires?
3. We have no car no-how but I think we have a jack. Checking the air pressure in my tires is about the limits of my abilities. Is changing the tires ourselves realistic?
4. Cheapest place to buy workable snow tires? The car is almost 16 years old and my husband hates it, so I don't want to sink a ton of money into it.
1: no - you can keep the same set of rims and have a shop change the tires twice a year - the downside is that it costs money each time you do this and they stretch the tire to put it on the rim (more wear).  IME, you get back all the money you spend on steel rims after the second year by changing the tires yourself
2: sorry, can't help
3: Changing tires is about a level 1 (out of 10) in autocare.  You need a jack (which you have) and a torque wrench or tire iron.  Plenty of videos on youtube, but IMO everyone who drives should know how to change a tire... otherwise your only option when you have a flat is to call someone.
4: lively debate already on this but I buy used snow tires off craigslist.  CostCo has ok (not great) prices and good service.  I've heard of people using tires.com but I have no personal experience with them.