Let’s talk about winter tires. The recent storm has made me think I should share some tips and thoughts about winter driving and the tires you should have on your vehicle.
If you have just installed an aggressive set of studded winter tires do not think you’re invincible–you’re not even if your car seems to be like superman. Things didn’t turn out that well for him. LOL
Things to avoid with winter tires.
Aggressive driving. Stopping taking off and stopping in an aggressive manner. This wears your tires faster than normal tires and damages or even rips studs out. Aggressive driving lessens the lifespan of winter tires drastically. They’re made of softer rubbers than summer tires.
Choosing the right tire for winter here is tough. We have such a weird mix of winter weather and even weirder drive cycles and roads. Given that we bounce in and out of freezing till May, there are a variety of things to consider.
Local drivers that don’t do a lot of highway driving but do commute early in the morning when it’s icy. Drivers who have steep hills/driveways or ski benefit most from studded winter tires.
People that commute to Portland, The Dalles, or do just a lot of highway driving may want studdless winter tires. They have a quieter, smoother feel at higher speeds and do not wear our roads out as fast. They still deliver a modest amount of traction when it’s really bad.
Drivers that can avoid driving when it’s really bad often times are just as well off with an aggressive all season tire that fits their particular type of car and driving habits. And an all-wheel drive car like a Subaru might be a wise choice.
Studded Tires pros and cons
Studded winter tires wear the road surface and have a noisy, rough ride. There’s also a degree of loss of traction in hard rain. They do however offer the best in traction on ice—period. Many drivers’ studded tires are the best choice. Hood River has some nasty dark areas on steep grades that only studded tires perform well on at times.
Studdless winter tires
There is such a wide variety of tires here you really need the right one for your drive cycles. Aggressive ones perform well in snow and rain but lack the heavy siping that provides better traction on ice. Most of these are a medium level of softness so they perform ok in our temp ranges. Some however have really heavy siping and silica in the rubber which offers the best traction in ice short of studded tires. The down side is most perform poorly in rain and slush and wear extremely fast. The biggest problem I see with these is they perform horribly when they are in their last 40% of tire life. And their extremely soft rubber compounds are not safe as summer tires in the summertime. I’m not a big advocate of these tires for most drivers, but some find them a good fit. Talk with someone before purchasing true studdless winter tires. But there are so many types and styles of studdless tires, we can find one that is a good fit for your needs.
Some people do well with the right all season tire. If you can avoid travelling when it’s really bad or don’t leave for work when the roads are icy early in the morning, there are a lot of tires to choose from. Combined with the all-wheel drive of your Subaru many never have issues with all-season tires,
For people that rarely are forced to deal with early morning ice, don’t ski, and can avoid really bad weather, an aggressive all season tire may perform well enough to get you around if you have an all-wheel drive vehicle.