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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm in a situation that as Fall in Milwaukee is coming to an all-too-quick close, I'm finding that my tires are in need of replacement. I've read threads about winter tires, but I'm wondering what happens to the tires when they're driven in "non-winter" conditions. Milwaukee weather fluctuates, and I don't have the time or money to swap tires four or more times a season. I only have OEM rims, and while I'd like to buy winter rims, budgeting is DEFINITELY a factor at the moment. So... Recommendations?

I'm leaning toward Michelin Ice-X's now, and then swapping for an all season set come April.

Thanks, all!
 

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Winter tires are made of softer rubber so they will grip better in colder weather so they won't last as long when driven on bare pavement. Part of the "con" of a winter tire. The other reason that people usually have winter tires mounted on steel rims (or cheap 2nd hand alloys) is the salt on winter roads attacks the alloys, pitting them where the paint is chipped off. This necessitates the pulling of the wheels, wire brushing and repainting the wheels periodically. My5 year old car comes from Surry, BC which seldom gets snow but when it comes they salt the roads and the alloys are badly pitted. So far I've only done one wheel, went on vacation, forgot where I put the lug nut key and am awaiting the replacement to do the rest. Might have to wait till spring to do the other three depends on how mild/dry the winter is (it's supposed to be mild this year because the warm "blob" of water is off the Pacific coast again).
 

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The other thing to consider - summer/all season tires generally don't grip as well when the temperatures drop towards freezing or below. The reason is their rubber compound gets harder. Winter tires use a softer rubber compound to begin with so when starts to harden from low temperatures they still have good grip due to having better grip to begin with.
 

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My general rule of thumb is to use winter tires when the temperatures are consistently 40 degrees or colder. Mine are going on soon here in Michigan. I used to swap between summer tires (which are horrible below 40 degrees) and winter tires with my last car, which made it challenging. Now I swap between all seasons and winters, so I tend to wait a little longer to put the winter tires on, and I take them off a little earlier too.
 

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There is no problem driving on winter tires on bare pavement. Just because snow is plowed from the street, or you don't get much snow in the winter, doesn't mean that the tires are not going to work or are going to excessively wear. I have been using winter tires for the past 10 years here in Chicago and I have never had any premature wear issues. Just get a set of winter tires on a set of inexpensive wheels and swap them out over Thanksgiving weekend and pull them off on April 1. Winter tires work best in temperatures below 40 degrees. If temperatures exceed that, you can expect faster wear and overall less stability when driving on the tires. I do not recommend driving on them in 50+ degree weather. They get too squirrly and feel unsafe.

We all have budgets that we have to be conscious of. My recommendation would be to buy some low cost winter tires (ie. Firestone Winterforce 2) and a low cost set of wheels (either steel or cheap aluminum wheels) and have Tirerack mount and balance them, then ship them out. Yeah, it will look like a big number at first but if you swap out the winter tires with your summer tires on the same wheels, you will be spending over $100 each time for mounting and balancing. After 2 seasons you will have spent well over $400 for all the mounting and balancing. That $400 could have paid for the second set of wheels for your winter tires.
 

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Winter tires will wear more. Because the rubber is softer for one reason, the other is the tread design is more aggressive which means there is less rubber on the road. Couple that with a heavy car that they have to maneuver and it will be exaggerated on a Volt. If you live where you have winter you may have no choice (depending on local laws) and may make the different between an accident and no accident or getting stuck and not getting stuck.
 

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Ha, I just bought a set of steel wheels and Blizzak's for the Bolt today.

The steel wheels were no heavier that the aluminum and even lighter than some! They can take a beating (potholes) and are about $30-$40/wheel less expensive. We are going black commando, no plastic wheel cover that in my experience every crack, or one gets lost.

I got 16" rather than 17" wheels for a higher tire sidewall (potholes), and a narrower 6.5" width rather than 7 or 7.5" (better in snow). They arrive tomorrow or Saturday mounted, balanced and TPMS installed. I'll throw them on my tire rack until we get the first big snow threat. We get less and less snow in the Chicago area, but when it does snow, a set of snow wheels can't be beat.

If they are like my Volt snows, we will lose about 5 miles battery range. Worth the reduction for the added safety in my view. Plus, the Bolt has range to spare, lot's of it.
 

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Have you considered the newest All-Season tires, like the Continental DWS (DryWetSnow) models, Purecontact. Or the Vredestein Quatrac5, which has the new 3PeakMountainSnowFlake designation, 3PMSF. Unlike the old M+S tires, which didn't have to pass any kind of snow test, the 3PMSF have to pass the old snow tire test, and meet the Winter Tire standard in places like Quebec. There are other highly rated all-season tires with the new 3PMSF as well.
 

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I like my Continental Pure Contact all season tires, much better in snow than the Assurance oem tires. In this manner you can avoid the biannual tire switcheroo. Full disclosure, my other car is AWD, which I always order if available.
 

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Greetings from a fellow Milwaukeean!
I commute down to O'Hare for work, and have been using General Altimax Snows for the last 4 years. They wear very well and have no problems handling the dry freeway pavement.
I usually don't install them until the first of December, and take them off by late March, to ensure they are driven only in cold temps.

Warm weather will have a negative effect on winter tires, as others have stated already.

Keep an eye on CL, as there are sets that pop up every so often.

You can keep costs down, as others have done, by purchasing 16" tires/wheels as opposed to 17" tires. You can compensate with a taller sidewall and you'll benefit from a slightly softer ride, but you will loose some range with the winter set up.

Jim
 

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I used General Altimax Arctic tires on my Accord and Firestone Winterforce tires on my Mazdaspeed3. The Generals weren't bad. A bit less road noise from them than the Firestones, but I felt the Firestones were much grippier in the snow and ice. Granted, the Generals never left me stranded or required me to ever use a shovel to get my car out, but they slipped a bit more when accelerating from a stop and the car would snow plow (ie. understeer) a bit more when navigating sharper turns. The Firestones never acted this way. They just gripped. I haven't used the new Firestone Winterforce 2's that recently came out, but I did just put a set on to my stock wheels so I'm ready for winter. I hope they perform as well as the previous versions but have a bit better road noise.
 

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I like my Continental Pure Contact all season tires, much better in snow than the Assurance oem tires. In this manner you can avoid the biannual tire switcheroo. Full disclosure, my other car is AWD, which I always order if available.
As some say, all season are only if you live in Phoenix. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey all! I bit the bullet and went with 16 inch rims and and Michelin Ice-X tires. (Pics to follow tomorrow). Now my question is inflation: Can I put these a couple psi over, like with the regular tires, or do i stick tight to the number on the sidewalls?
 

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The number on the sidewall is the tire manufacturer's max pressure rating, which has nothing to do with your car - The number you want is on the door jamb . . . . and you can fudge that up by a couple pounds if you like

Don
 

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The number on the door jamb is the ideal (compromise) setting for the OEM tire.
Choose tires with a different construction (std., or run-flat), number of plies, load rating, aspect ratio, width, even manufacturer of the tire, or even different tire models from the same manufacturer, and those sticker advisories of pressure are not assured to be ideal.
 

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Hey all! I bit the bullet and went with 16 inch rims and and Michelin Ice-X tires. (Pics to follow tomorrow). Now my question is inflation: Can I put these a couple psi over, like with the regular tires, or do i stick tight to the number on the sidewalls?
My rule of thumb is to set pressure so that they will never be below the door jamb numbers during the period until you'll set them again.
And then I add a couple of PSI for good measure. :p

My understanding is that higher pressure is better for lighter snow, because it will cut through to the pavement, while lower pressure is better for deeper snow because it gives a bigger contact patch.

I drive on well-plowed roads, so I can use higher pressures.
 

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Hey all! I bit the bullet and went with 16 inch rims and and Michelin Ice-X tires. (Pics to follow tomorrow). Now my question is inflation: Can I put these a couple psi over, like with the regular tires, or do i stick tight to the number on the sidewalls?
You'll like the Ice-Xs. I run my Altimax at 39 PSI, which is below the max rated pressure of 44. I don't have TPMS in the snows, so I just check the pressures every couple weeks and deal with the annoyance light on the dash for now...
 

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You'll like the Ice-Xs. I run my Altimax at 39 PSI, which is below the max rated pressure of 44. I don't have TPMS in the snows, so I just check the pressures every couple weeks and deal with the annoyance light on the dash for now...
I run my Winterforce 2's at 41-42 psi cold (44 psi max on sidewall). And I set that on a warm (40 degree) day. So on mornings when it is upper 30's I hit about 42-43 psi when driving. On mornings when it is in the teens, they read 37-38 psi cold and 40-41 psi when warm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Chevrolet volt Family car


Here's my wheels and tires. I just love my little car!
 
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