digdug18 New Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 5:18 p.m.

Snow tires are sooo expensive, can I get away with using snow chains, or more then likely those cable chain types.

What are the pros and cons of using snow tires and chains and vice versa? I have never had either, have always just slugged through the snow and ice and prayed that I was able to stop. Or just stayed at home if it got really bad out, lol...


skruffy Dork
Dec. 8, 2009 5:24 p.m.

Putting on and taking off chains gets old real fast. Also, your car will drive like it has square wheels if you use them on clear roads.

Snow tires are a long term investment since they'll usually last until you sell the car they fit. Getting them on an extra set of wheels makes the snow changeover super easy.

jrw1621 Dork
Dec. 8, 2009 5:25 p.m.

Try hitting your local craigslist. This time of year you can often find still good snow tires on there at bargain prices.

maroon92 SuperDork
Dec. 8, 2009 5:25 p.m.

YES! second set of steelies from the junkyard. 6 months of snow tire useage in Michigan got me 4 winters of use on one set of Hankooks. I think it was like 200 for the whole set. Not that bad of a deal considering they may save your life.

Nashco SuperDork
Dec. 8, 2009 5:27 p.m.

If you only need to drive in the snow once, chains are dandy. If you'll be driving in snow all winter long, get some good snow tires and keep a shovel in the trunk. If you have the option of waiting it out and don't want to get either, stay at home and enjoy it while it lasts.


Dec. 8, 2009 6:20 p.m.

What about the midwest where we get infrequent, but often time major, snowstorms & drifting/blowing snow?

I've used snow tires in the past & love them, but I'm driving 100-200mi/day now and I'm afraid they won't last one winter under these conditions.

Keith SuperDork
Dec. 8, 2009 6:32 p.m.

You can't go more than about 20 mph on chains, can you? I remember that being the case years ago while trying to drive a FWD on high-performance summer tires in the Alps. I passed a guy here this morning who was chunking along on chains in the city, he looked totally miserable.

Good snow tires will last like summer tires. By "good snow tires", I mean Hakkapellittas. Not "ice tires" like the Blizzaks that rely on a short-lived gummy compound for their traction. Hakks will last for years.

One thing to remember is that when you're running on snow tires, you're not wearing your summer tires. So they'll last longer.

Flyin' Miata, this morning. Everyone with a Toyota truck made it in, nobody else showed up before noon Two snowmobiles just drove past on the highway...

iceracer HalfDork
Dec. 8, 2009 6:41 p.m.

And there is always the joy when a link breaks and beats the h*** out of the fender.

keethrax Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 7:09 p.m.
Keith wrote: One thing to remember is that when you're running on snow tires, you're not wearing your summer tires. So they'll last longer.

Not only will they last longer, but if you're good about your changes you can buy the summer tires knowing they shouldn't have to deal with snow/ice

aussiesmg SuperDork
Dec. 8, 2009 7:23 p.m.

Picked up a set of rims and Pirelli snows last year, what a difference, the Town Car was awesome last winter, you have to love cruising by a WRX STI on US75 and waving at the stunned expression on the face of the driver

wbjones Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 7:24 p.m.

not sure if it's an urban myth but I've always heard about the dangers of chains and a FWD car.... such as yours and my Integra LS's... if a chain broke on RWD there could be some problems, but I can readily see how it could be real bad on a FWD...

Dr. Hess SuperDork
Dec. 8, 2009 7:29 p.m.

I grew up in SoCal, PRC. The first time I ever actually saw it snow was when I was 19 years old and on a ship in Long Island Sound. Our first winter here in Arkansas, we got snowed/iced pretty good. It took me 3 days to chip 2 tire tracks up my driveway so I could get the truck (2WD Toyota) out. I bought the last set of chains for sale in NW AR. With those, I put them on when I got to the dirt road (PITA), drove the half mile to my house, then the next morning drove back to pavement and took them off. With the chains on the back, I could climb anything, including sheet ice. However, the chains had to come off once on pavement, as you could only do about 30 with them on. Once, I left them on all the way to the stop light, 4.5 miles away, because the whole road was black ice. Otherwise, they came off at pavement. The county scraped the roads, but the bridges would still ice up. Anywhere with ice was, uh, challenging. After about 5 years of that, driving 40 miles to work over patchy ice, I decided to get serious about it and bought the Rolla, put the 20 valve in, MS'ed it and bought a set of Graspic Snow Tires for the original phone dial steelies and a set of aftermarket 15" wheels with summer tires for the rest of the time. With my snow tires on, I can run down Subies in the snow. That is the only way to go. Chains are for emergencies and chains suck. Get some steelies from the junk yard and some snow tires from Discount Tire Direct or Tire Rack. DTD even sells super cheap steelies. TR probably does too.

Dav New Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 7:36 p.m.

Snow tire aren't THAT expensive--they are certainly cheaper than the result of any kind of accident and allow you to get where you need to go much more safely. I run Hankook iPikes on my WRX and it does great in the snow--plus it is kinda fun to slide around corners on snow tires in the dry rally-style when my summer tires would have stuck... .

lesabre400 New Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 7:48 p.m.

We bought Hankook snow tires (full set of four) when we bought my wife's SE-R Spec-V new in 2004. This is their 6th Ontario winter (egad, is that right?) and they still have more than 50% tread left. Worth every penny.

ZOO Dork
Dec. 8, 2009 7:56 p.m.

I'd never own another DD without a set of snows on rims. FWD, plus good snows, plus common sense equals great peace of mind. The only thing I dislike about snows on my Protege is that they make handbrake drifts much more challenging.

We don't get much snow here -- we're on the wrong side of the lake, and I haven't noticed much wear on my Michelin Alpins after 30 000 kms.

neon4891 SuperDork
Dec. 8, 2009 8:30 p.m.

The biggest way they will wear is if you drive like an shiny happy person on studded tires and lose studs.

SkinnyG Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 8:46 p.m.

Studded tires and a lowered Hardbody wasn't quite what I expected - had to replace the inner shields and put some bigger bumpstops back in.

DeadSkunk Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 8:57 p.m.

I have snow tires for every vehicle we own, including the Miata. We don't go out all that often in standing snow. A lot of the time it's bare pavement here in the Ann Arbor area. But the snow tires are beneficial just because they'll stop shorter on bare, cold pavement. I've put my summer tires (Kuhmo ASXs) on the Miata in January and gone out for a drive on bare, dry, cold days. They don't stick or stop very well when temperatures are in the teens. I consider snow tires to be cheap insurance for the vehicles, but more importantly, they protect my wife and sons when they're driving.

irish44j Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 9:20 p.m.

I run performance winter tires (Dunlop Wintersport 3D or Bridgestone Blizzak LM22/25) on my cars from December 1st to mid-March. They are awesome in ice and snow, but they perform like A/S tires in dry and rain. Plus they don't wear very fast. I don't even notice them in the 90% of days here when its not snowing....

On their 3rd season with no noticeable wear. Winter tires only wear fast if you use them when its warm out....

pinchvalve SuperDork
Dec. 8, 2009 9:27 p.m.

When the chains come loose, they will destroy your quarter panels and fenders. Snow tires will not.

Jeff Dork
Dec. 8, 2009 9:27 p.m.

If you have FWD and are not driving in hilly/mountainous terrain, you can get away with two snows on the front. But you have to be ready to deal with it, the back end is going to rotate in the corners. If you are ready for it, it's not a problem.

If you are in the mountains/hills, you need snows. And chains in the trunk when it really sucks out.

93gsxturbo Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 9:40 p.m.

Keith, what do you use for snow tires on the trucks? I have Baja Claws on my Ram 2500, and they are OK, not great.

BAMF Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 10:22 p.m.

Snow tires are great. I got a set of Blizzak WS-60s last winter for my Mazda3. Even on bare pavement on super cold days they do a better job than the terrible Goodyear Eagle RS-As that came on the car. A set of steel wheels from a Ford Fusion make going back and forth pretty simple.

vazbmw Reader
Dec. 9, 2009 12:04 a.m.

Chains PIA to put on Can't drive at highway speeds They will break and f'up the fender of your car at some point

digdug18 wrote: Snow tires are sooo expensive, can I get away with using snow chains, or more then likely those cable chain types. What are the pros and cons of using snow tires and chains and vice versa? I have never had either, have always just slugged through the snow and ice and prayed that I was able to stop. Or just stayed at home if it got really bad out, lol... Andrew
Wally SuperDork
Dec. 9, 2009 2:17 a.m.

I love my snow tires, Dunlop Grasspics on the wifes car and Blizzaks on mine. We use the cable type chains at work and besides the joy of putting them on and off, the poor ride, and slow speed, they also break easily and often find a way to tangle themselves around the axle.

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