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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I did a fair bit of snow driving when I lived in the Sierra Nevada. My car then was a 1986 Volvo station wagon with seasonal studded tires. Never needed chains and did pretty well, although certainly not as well as the 4WD SUVs that rule the roads there. (I drove those for work and could feel the difference.)

It very rarely snows in the California coast but once we had about 1/2 inch on a 2000 foot mountain pass, and the Insight did just fine on its regular tires. I then took the Insight on a Sierra outing and was caught in a surprise snow storm, with about 2 inches on the pavement. The 4WD SUVs were doing just fine while I was fishtailing all over the road. I am still amazed that I did not collide into the SUVs. Later I read on this forum that the Insight's rear wheels tend to follow into the front wheel ruts, guaranteeing nonstop fishtailing. :(

Question is, how do you deal with a moderate amount of snow and ice? What special tires? In many places chains are required (although few cars ever put them on); what kind of chains do you carry?
 

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Same troubles for me too, especially if the snow is loose. Some folk go to winter treads, others employ a 'spacer mod' by placing spacers on the rear lugs/studs to move the rears a little further outward. Check the search function, there's a couple threads about the mod. IIRC, Nokia makes a pretty decent winter tread that fits the Insight nicely.

I prefer to run my re92's year round, so when the loose stuff hits the ground, I drive my truck (and cringe at the fuel consumption).

If caught by surprise, I take alternate routes that allow very slow travel.
 

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I drop my tire pressures down to 32/28psi with the stock all seasons during winter. Tire pressures make a world of difference. Heavier wider dedicated snow tires on steel rims spin up slower, having more unsprung wt were used in the first few winters of ownership. This worked out awesome with oversized 185/60x14 Michelin X-Ice snow tires but mileage suffers additionally to the cold due to the rotational mass. Can't beat them for traction though and it had to be provoked to spin off the line. The wider tires also help abate the narrow rear track somewhat, but spacers are also used by some to get the track in line.
The best advise for really slippery stuff or where there's traction concern is to keep to the 'high side' of the road, because the vehicle will find the 'low side' all on it's own: i.e. where possible ride on the crown of the road vs hugging the right line.

If there is a sports car club in anyone's area that runs winter events and driving school, they may be open to the public to bring their own street vehicles to learn, ... it's an opportunity to take your car to the limits of handling in a relatively safe venue and possibly become more involved in motorsports.

Basically, for the stockers it comes down to using less air pressure in the tires, thereby developing more contact patch area. I got a needle dial type air gauge for accurate results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Mountain driver and AbCaRed00. Nokian tires sound interesting. Are there any problems with dropping air pressure and using overwide tires other than MPG drop?
 

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Are there any problems with dropping air pressure and using overwide tires other than MPG drop?
Very Low tire pressure will break the bead from the rim on strong bumps sideways: In the winter ice race sponsored competitions featuring Bridgestone Blizzack WS-50 I tried low tire pressures down to 15psi. Traction was great, probably not good for cords in the sidewalls , but worst was when hitting the plowed banks at an angle at speed [hard ice and snow pressing into the sidewall] the bead packed up with ice and the tire soon leaked it's air. So, if you go tooo low = problems. No problems down to 20 psi for breaking the bead via snowbanks. For the street, I seem to like 32/28psi for tire wear reasons; plus not to dent rims on potholes; and probably to achieve a balance I am accustomed to without the rear end banging on every bump.[different rear bump stops may help.] Lowering pressure from hypermiling standards down to around 32 psi is near spec iirc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The only Nokian that I can get from a local dealer seems to be the Nokian Nordman 5. It has good reviews. It can be ordered with studs, but I don't plan to go into serious snow on a regular basis. Any thoughts?
 

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The only Nokian that I can get from a local dealer seems to be the Nokian Nordman 5. It has good reviews. It can be ordered with studs, but I don't plan to go into serious snow on a regular basis. Any thoughts?
I got recommended Hakka's from some Rally enthusiasts. I had some Nokian Hakkapeliitta on my pickup truck tow vehicle and got them studded later, but only a day or two after mounting them. Best to stud them right away if you do opt for studs, as within a few miles, tiny stones/road grit will pack up into the holes for the studs. Digging out a few small chunks can be taking a bit of time prior to stud installation. Studded Tires should come off as soon as road conditions warrant.
fwiw: I was towing a car trailer on sheet ice on frozen lakes, and would say studs would likely be more than required for your driving plans above.
The Hakka's were excellent on ice and snow, but not so on the pavement.[wear mostly]
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re: tire chains, not sure for all locations but for mountainous BC, it's "Yes, and Maybe" ....there's these guidelines [Oct 2 - Mar 31] : M&S for passenger vehicles apply's and chains for commercial vehicles.
BC TRANSPORTATION:
"When you come to a posted sign on the highway stating “Motorists Must Use Winter Tires/Commercial Vehicles Must Carry Tire Chains, October 1 – March 31”, you must have proper winter tread tires (passenger vehicles) or be ready to install chains (commercial vehicles) before proceeding. Should you go beyond that point without the proper equipment, you may be subject to a fine. If you are driving a passenger vehicle, you should have at the very least Mud and Snow (M+S) tires with a minimum of 3.5mm tread depth or even better, proper winter tires – the one with the mountain and snowflake symbol to travel safely on BC highways during this time. - See more at: http://tranbc.ca/2011/02/03/do-i-need-to-chain-up-yes-and-maybe/#sthash.IhuNUdmh.dpuf"​
You can get plastic chains and use them for true emergencies, I've never seen them used but they look easy. Steel chains like on a big truck are a true pain and I wouldn't consider them for an Insight. Whatever, practice installation first [there' a way]. Do it before you ever have to chain up for real and go slow with your ears open. ..And the last thing about chaining up any vehicle, ... chain up before you think you'll need them and don't spin out if can be helped.
 

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I run Nordman 5's in the stock size and am very, very happy with them on snow and ice. A proper winter tire makes worlds of difference, and my experience has been that narrower, thinner tires do better when the snow starts to accumulate. The rear track can be a problem, but in cases where the roads aren't plowed, I just keep my speed down.

EDIT: I dunno if it was the truth, but the last time I asked a Nokian dealer about Nordmans vs Hakkas, the mechanic working there told me the Nordmans are the previous gen of Hakkas rebranded and sold as a more budget tire.
 

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The RE92s are NOT good snow tires. The only thing that makes them acceptable for snow is the fact that they will in fact operate in the snow. Any traction you achieve will be purly conincidental. Drove my Insight with RE92s in the snow since I got it, until last year when I finally put on a set of snow tires (Pirelli Snowcontrol). World of difference. As if the car was upgraded to 4 wheel drive.

That said, if you only have one or two snow incidents per year then snow tires aren't a good investment and severely impact fuel economy. In this case, just drop the pressure of the RE92s to around 25 - 30 PSI and most importantly, drive appropriate to the weather. If you are fishtailing, then speed is too fast for conditions.
 

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The RE92s are NOT good snow tires. The only thing that makes them acceptable for snow is the fact that they will in fact operate in the snow. Any traction you achieve will be purly conincidental. Drove my Insight with RE92s in the snow since I got it, until last year when I finally put on a set of snow tires (Pirelli Snowcontrol). World of difference. As if the car was upgraded to 4 wheel drive.

That said, if you only have one or two snow incidents per year then snow tires aren't a good investment and severely impact fuel economy. In this case, just drop the pressure of the RE92s to around 25 - 30 PSI and most importantly, drive appropriate to the weather. If you are fishtailing, then speed is too fast for conditions.
Nokian snow tires are LRR. My fuel economy with them is nearly as good as with RE92's, within maybe 5%.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everybody, great to hear the different points of view.
My experience with regular tires in the snow (at regular pressure) was fishtailing at any speed greater than 0, so I am ready to try something different.
 

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I haven't seen any mention of the General Altimax Arctics on here for winter tires. I'm planning on picking up a set for some VX wheels I have for this coming winter. At only $50 per tire (175/70/R13), it seems like a steal.

Local Discount Tire shop was able to get Nokians, but they were around 70 to 90 per tire.

For those with the stock wheels: The 175/65/R14 Altimax Arctics are $60 each from Tire Rack.

I have run these tires on my Jetta for 2 years now and love them for the price. I'm not sure how they will be on the Insight, but I'm sure it will be much more safe than the RE92s in snow and ice when its 10 degrees below zero.
 

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It's definitely hasty to rule out tires just for being "cheap", but with Nokians on my Insight (which were the most expensive winter tire available), on ice I can drive circles around my wife's HCH1 (Firestones), my in-laws' '14 Prius (Coopers), and my father's F150 (Douglas). My in-laws' house is at the bottom of a shallow hill and their driveway often gets covered in ice, and I can't count the number of times I've watched them spend 20 minutes trying to get out, and found I was able to drive past where they were stuck without issue. The traction in slick conditions is so much better it's hilarious.
 

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I have Pirelli Winter Carving Ice or something on my stock insight wheels. So far so good.
 

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I am running Hankook Winter Icept W606 tires in the 175/65R14 size.

Mounted on Drag Wheels DR-33 14x5.5 et35 wheels.

4 wheels mounted and shipped was $570 from Discount Tire Direct last year and IMHO they look better than the stock wheels.

Note that the ET35 moves the wheels outwards 10mm from the stock ET45 and also the tires are 10mm wider. They do not rub, though. It doesn't help with the track issue because the fronts are moved out the same amount. If I had been thinking I would have ordered different rims for the front with a higher offset or searched for a pair of OEM rims.

According to wikipedia the rear track is 110mm narrower in the rear. I think reducing the difference to zero is unfeasible with fender skirts in place, but reducing the difference somewhat might be noticeable.

 

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Ice and snow?

I take the Bronco.
 

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You can't beat snow tires! I have Yokohama ice guards on my miatas stock wheels. Going to see if they will fit the insight lol
 
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