A Winter Emergency Kit
Winterizing Your Car
I need to buy snow tires but don't know much about them. What should I look for and how can I find the best deal? I just moved from the south, so I've never bought snow tires before.
You probably do not need snow tires. Check Consumer Reports ratings on all-season tires with the best snow and ice traction.
Snow tires wear out fast if there is no snow and most regular tires grip well enough. More likely you need all-wheel or four-wheel drive.
Nothing works on ice but chains or ice tires and ice tires tear up roads and have very poor grip on anything other than ice surfaces.
I have lived in snow with regular tires and rear wheel drive. When needed, I put chains on. This only takes maybe ten minutes. Chains will get you anywhere in any ice or snow unless it is too deep for your vehicle. (I have even used chains in soft sand when going cross country in Africa. Tire chains are the real miracle workers.)
Use Bridgestone Blizzaks on all four wheels. They give amazing traction on ice! They use a combination of silica, soft rubber, sipes, and a closed cell rubber (think bubbles) that give a lot of "grabbing" surfaces. They do last much longer than I ever expected. A set I bought over 10 years ago is still in use by a friend. A spare set of wheels is very worthwhile so you don't need to do a major swap twice a year. TireRack.com has useful tips, videos, etc.
Larry in RI
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