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Do I want winter tires?

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by TechGuy, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. TechGuy

    TechGuy Member

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    I've never purchased winter tires before -- all of my vehicles have had all season. I've had my Model S for about 4 days now and I'm thinking seriously of purchasing winter tires, but I'm getting conflicting advice.

    I live in southern PA (on the MD border, near the Hagerstown Supercharger). We have some serious snow from time to time, but it's usually dry in between. I drive the highway (I-81) frequently. I have a rather steep driveway that my AWD SUV sometimes couldn't make it up with more than a 1/2" of snow. Just for fun, here's a video of it sliding down the driveway on a thin sheet of ice: Sliding down the driveway - YouTube

    I have 19" wheels and the guys at the Service Center told me how great they are in snow... but it might be nice to increase my odds of making it up the driveway.

    I suppose my PRIMARY CONCERN is: What are the disadvantages of the winter tires? I'm not sure how much I'm giving up in louder/worse energy use/poor dynamics in dry conditions vs being able to make it up the driveway a couple of times over the winter. I've also been told that they shouldn't be used when the weather still gets over 45 degrees, which is still the case right now.

    Of secondary importance is that we are considering a road trip in March to Denver -- about 1600 miles each way. This brings with it several questions. Perhaps winter tires will be an asset if we hit snowy conditions while in Colorado. On the other hand, perhaps the 1000 miles of dry highway (each way) would be a disadvantage for energy use / noise / wear on the tires?

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. theheff

    theheff Member

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    Honestly, you'd be fine in Denver driving around in all-seasons... I know several Model S owners that live in Denver that do just that. If you happen to catch an inch or two of snow, you'd probably still be fine. Any more and you might want to reconsider.

    As far as having a dedicated set of winter tires... you will find a lot of different opinions on here, but it's all about your typical driving conditions. I own a set of winter tires because I drive on snowy inclines regularly to ski. The difference in control is night and day, but those are extreme conditions. Winter here also doesn't get above 45F very often, so it's great for traction on dry roads during the winter. I also like having a set of performance tires for the warm months, just because they're a lot more fun to drive on.

    Some of the disadvantages of winter tires... you have to store your extra set somewhere. They can be a hassle to switch out, but it's not that much work to do yourself (I do it at home). In warm conditions they handle mediocre and wear down much faster. Noise is not an issue- I used the Michelin Xi3 winter tires and they're comparable to all-seasons in noise. The difference in range is not very significant, if at all. If you're not consistently below 45F, then I wouldn't bother. If you're not regularly dealing with snow, I also wouldn't bother.

    That's just my 2 cents... hope that helps a bit.
     
  3. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    I'm going to disagree with theheff; I highly recommend a good set of true winter tires for the conditions the OP describes. It doesn't take any significant depth of snow to realize the benefits of better grip; just go and search for the threads from 2012-2013 describing the problems people were having with winter traction (the traction control is so good, the car won't even move if the wheels start to spin while you're standing still...at least that was the case with early firmware). My personal experience with the OEM Goodyear all-seasons during that first winter in Denver was similar: if there was any grip, the S was perfectly drivable; but more than once I found myself skating on slippery roads with very little accumulation. The second winter I ran a set of Michelin X-Ice Xi3's and it was like night and day: the car became sure-footed in just about all winter driving conditions. Like I said, the traction control is so good it prevents wheel spin; it's eerie, but you when it's slippery out you can floor the accelerator and it just gives you whatever power it can without spinning the wheels.

    as for driving them on dry pavement, the Xi3's are true LRR tires and don't hurt your range much at all; and if anything they are quieter than the Goodyears. I drove mine all winter last year, including a 2000 mile road trip to Phoenix and El Centro (where it was 80° F., in February) and was pleasantly surprised at the handling and minimal tread wear. The worst you can say about them is that they're a little squidgy under hard acceleration when it's not cold out.

    Winter came suddenly last week to Denver, while I was out of town; yesterday I went for a drive in my S as the snow began to fall again, and almost got sideways while braking in a parking lot at 10 mph; I can't wait to get the Xi3's put back on.
     
  4. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

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    Winter in Denver can be full of surprises—an unexpected foot of snow in November or 65 degrees in January. If there is even the slightest chance that you'll be heading west on I-70 in the winter, snow tires would be prudent and perhaps legally required at higher elevations. I suggest a set of Hakkapeliitta R2's or Dunlop SP Sport snow tires for winter use. You might also want to consider a second set of Tesla wheels for winter, which makes the changeovers much easier.
     
  5. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    I live in Maryland in a similar climate and I've never had snow tires on any of my cars. And I haven't had any problems. Driving in snow takes a special set of skills which come from experience. So if you have experience driving in snow, I'd go with all season tires that have a good snow rating.

    When my Model S was in its first year, I returned to BWI into a raging snow storm. I had all season tires on the car. There was about 5" of fresh snow on the ground and none of the roads had been plowed. I set the suspension on high and drove 25 miles home. The roads included Interstates, secondary, and two lane hilly roads. In many cases I was the the first to break through the snow. The car handled like a dream and I had no problems. True, there was quite normal slipping and sliding but there was not a moment when I thought I'd get stuck. But then again I've driven all kinds of cars in these conditions and have a great deal of experience and confidence handing them.
     
  6. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    To answer your questions:

    1. Rolling resistance. Winter tires can be very fuel efficient. Nokian tires have a very good reputation in this regard as do the Michelin Xi3, and I've recorded some of my best mpg ratings in the Nokians (in a previous car--not in the Model S).

    2. Winter tires wear out very fast when the temperature is warm.

    3. Winter tires don't handle as well in dry conditions.

    4. All-seasons: It depends on the all-seasons. Most are "Texas" all-seasons and don't work well when the going gets tough, but there are a few severe-service all-seasons like Nokian WR-g3. The severe-service ones are about 90% as good as real winter tires and don't melt in the heat (even in Texas heat). In most conditions you'll never be able to tell the difference.

    5. The OE (Goodyear and Michelin) all-seasons aren't that great in snow and ice. You can get around, but you have to be very careful.

    6. You didn't ask, but it's best to get a second set of wheels to mount your winter tires on.
     
  7. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    I live in Minneapolis and got the Michelins. A big factor in my decision is that you need to rotate tires anyway. I didn't buy a second set of rims, so having snow tires does not really cost me anything beyond their cost over regular tires (rotating regardless and no extra rims). Food for thought.
     
  8. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Just bear in mind that every time tires are mounted and demounted there is a risk of damage--and it's usually hidden damage.
     
  9. Barry

    Barry Member

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    There is no legal requirement for snow tires in Colorado at any time or elevation for cars. There are chain laws that apply to trucks.
     
  10. svp6

    svp6 Member

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    It's funny how people who never had winter tires say you get by without winter tires. Of course you can. I got by without ABS, stability control, hands-free phone, navigation and in general a lousy car 30 years ago. It does not mean I should not appreciate those, and once I had them I did not want a car without them.... I have plenty experience for driving in winter conditions - grew up in a country that did not give much consideration for plowing the roads in winter time, so ice was the norm. Here in MN we do not complain of lack of snow too often either...

    Here is my take:
    Disadvantages:
    1. Cost
    2. Need to swap twice a year

    Advantages:
    1. Grip - and that is not only in snow. Go online and see reviews of all-season vs winter in dry conditions. Anywhere below 40F you will see significant advantages with winter tires.
    2. Safety. Of course this comes from the grip. It is for you and for others on the road. It is somewhat surprising to me that we can spend 80-120K on the car and talk much about 1-2.5 k for our own protection in winter.

    If you are fortunate to live in a part of the country where it hardly ever drops below 50, you definitely don't need them. All the rest could use them for their own safety. I would not imagine driving without winter tires, even now that AWD is available. If you can afford it, buy a wheel and tire set from Tesla (2.5k) or TireRack (~2.3 k shipping included - not OEM, but more options on what you get).
     
  11. TechGuy

    TechGuy Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies!!

    I'm leaning toward the Michelin Xi3 -- from what I've read, the couple of days that pop over 50 or so degrees shouldn't bother them too much.

    I just looked it up and our average HIGHs are listed as:
    Nov: 52
    Dec: 40
    Jan: 37
    Feb: 40
    Mar: 50

    I'm not sure just how "necessary" they will be, but I think I'd feel more comfortable knowing I've got the extra grip. We are forecasted to get more snow than usual this year and it may slightly increase my odds of getting up my steep driveway.
     
  12. teslasguy

    teslasguy MSP P#1117

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    I live in the western burbs of Philly and now have driven 2 winters on all seasons. No problem. But we also have an ICE suv to drive if snow is really deep.
     
  13. CaryS

    CaryS Member

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    I also live in the western burbs of Philly, but unlike @teslaguy, I have not experienced a winter yet as my S85, 19" wheels, is only 2 months old.
    Like you, I went back and forth about whether or not to get snow tires. Where I live in the western burbs it is somewhat hilly, and from what I read the S85 seems to struggle with hills. I have no doubt that the S85 performs well in the snow provided that the terrain is relatively flat.
    As such I decided to purchase snow tires with rims from Tesla when they dropped the price from 4k to $2500. Not a bad value considering that when ordering from TireRack, a set of 4 comparable snow tires with non em wheels is about the same price.
    So you decision should not only be how snowy it gets but also the terrain you will have to navigate in the snow.
     
  14. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    Same applies for tire rotations, which I won't really do because they will just be combined with seasonal tire changes. My rims will have the same number of mounts and dismounts as any other rim having properly rotated tires.
     
  15. aronth5

    aronth5 Long Time Follower

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    Of course no one knows yet but it will be interesting to see the impact of the new AWD option. I suspect you will see more owners except for those in very snowy areas sticking with all season tires.
    Besides the improved traction from RWD the costs of snow tires for AWD will be a real factor. This is one reason I was disappointed AWD was dropped as an option for the 60 MHz model.
     
  16. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    I'm referring to damage to the tires, not the wheels.
     
  17. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    Ok, but I believe I am still right. The tires will not be mounted or dismounted any more frequently than someone with a second set of rims who rotates on schedule, roughly every 5,500 miles for me.
     
  18. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    You don't unmount the tires when you rotate them. You only move the wheels from one position to another.
     
  19. Gwgan

    Gwgan Almost a wagon

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    Steep, curved driveway here. All/4-wheel drive with snow tires and Front-wheel drive with studded snow tires can get up here in the snow. Everybody else waits for a ride at the bottom.
     
  20. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    I see. I have had 4x4's in the past that required dismounting. Thanks for clarifying.
     

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