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Discussion Starter #1
Today was the first real day of snow in Boston, and my first drive in snow in my new-to-me '02 5-speed. Black ice under a dusting of fresh white stuff. I got stuck behind a skidding FedEx truck on an uphill, and then learned that my Insight really doesn't like to climb snowy hills. I just couldn't get traction with the light car, front wheel drive, and stock tires.

I've been driving on snow and ice ever since my first day behind the wheel, so I'm going to be bold and say that it's not me. I've managed to navigate a rear-wheel drive '77 Charger, an FWD Datsun 210, and various 4wd and AWD Jeeps and Audis with far less trouble than I had today. I wasn't expecting Quattro-style adhesion, but I expected better than I had today.

Granted, snow over ice is particularly bad.

BUT... I gave up trying to get to work, came home, and immediately came to this forum to see what people said about snow tires. Surprisingly, there are few specific recommendations for brand and size. Several people said they don't need them (!). Only one or two mentioned specific brands. Tire Rack recommends a Blizzak, but no one seemed to have used them and posted their observations. Michelin Arctic Alpin is another...

Sorry for the long post. Would people who have bought snows mind saying what they bought and how they liked them? Thanks!

MF
 

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Nokian

Hi, MikeF!

I was stuck in the same mess! But I found I was doing quite well, even though my brand-new snow tires were resting peacefully in the garage at home. For about an hour I was behind a 4x4 pickup truck that was going sideways every time the line moved a few inches. I had no such trouble with my 60000 miles bald Potenza OEM tires!

Anyhow, back to your question: mine are Nokian Hakkapeliita 2 in 145/80R13. Yes, I did buy 13" wheels for the occasion and the diameter is about 2% off. But I thought that was acceptable. I did want to get narrower tires for the winter. Especially on mud and slush, it helps to have higher pressure to push through the stuff. With a light car like ours, the narrower the better!

Oh, and they'll come out of the garage real soon, I promise!
 

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MikeF,
This will be my second winter with my Insight. I use Hakkapeliitta 1 (165/65R14) tyres. I have found that when climbing a REALLY steep hill you definitely want to get some speed up to make it up. Other than that, I do not regret getting Hakkapelitta 1. I am certain they keep stability just as well as any tire can in such messy weather conditions.
On a side note, I get nearly the same mileage with the Hakkapelitta 1s during the winter months. Just today it was something like 30 degrees out and I got ~65 miles per gallon combined to and from work. (Boy I hope I don't sound too much like a salesman.... lol).
Armin,
Are your Hakkapelitta 2s studded?
 

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Hakka 2

I finally put my Hakka 2's on last night. Since they are 145's, I increased the pressure to 44psi (was running 40 in the Potenzas) to get the same support as in the OEM tires. This seems safe since they are rated to 47 psi. Changing the tires, I noticed that the steel rims with the Hakkas are quite a lot heavier than the OEM combination. But I didn't weigh them.

The first impression of this mornings commute is overwhelmingly positive. I noticed no difference in ride quality. Tracking and the tendency to follow road ruts did not change. Mileage shows no perceptible difference. They are smaller, so the speedometer overstatement (compared to my GPS, I know, not perfect) went up to 4% (from 2% with the OEMs). Since that is still only 3 mph at highway speed, I consider it negligible. There is a slight song coming from the tires. Aside from that, you couldn't tell any difference, unless you got out of the car to look :cool: They do look different, on their 13" steel wheels. But I got silver-painted rims so it blends quite well.

Motty82,
no, they are not studded (but have the mounting holes). In my opinion, studs only help on black ice, are neutral on snow and in all other conditions they have only negatives. I stick whith what's best for most of the time. Now, if I lived in Alaska, my choice may be different!
 

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I'm using 13" alloy civic VX rims that weigh 8lbs with 175/70R13 (same as OEM diamter) Toyo Observe GO-2 Plus extreme condition winter tires. This set up weights almost the same as OEM, but since these tires are one of the best for both slick ice and deep snow the tread is so soft and flexible that high speed handling suffers even at 44 psi.
This only goes to show that these tires were designed with no compromise for extreme conditions and they deliver their promise!
*Fantastic on ice and deep snow!
*Poor for high speed handling and wandering on clear hwy driving
*Good and quite for a winter tire (at low/medium speeds if you try to listen it is slightly louder then OEM but only just slightly).

The advantage of using 13" rims is lower cost rims and tires.
14" winter tires would give better handling (compared to 13") because of the shorter sideways.
When the conditions are very slippery and you are driving slowly you should drop your pressures down to ~35 psi for much better grip. But remember to pump them up to 40+ psi before you drive at high speeds again. I always carry a little 12V air pump in my trunk.
 

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Thanks Armin (and we do care!)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
We got lots of snow over the weekend here in Boston (over two feet near my house), and I had to drive 40 miles early on Sunday morning on the interstate. Still on the OEM Potenzas, on top of about two inches of packed/plowed snow while it was still snowing steadily.

The Potenzas did better in real snow than they did on the black ice that made me start this thread, but it was still a white-knuckle drive. My steering wheel was less a "precision control instrument" and more a device that conveyed my general intentions to the tires, which then interpreted them as they saw fit.

Thanks for the great comments. I see that Nokian has Hakka 1, Hakka Q, and Hakka 2. The Hakka 2s seem newest, so less is written about them. Am I interpreting their lineup correctly: Hakka 1 for studs, Hakka Q midrange no studs, Hakka 2 top end no studs?

Yours,
Mike
 

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Nokian lineup

MikeF,

I don't know much about the Q (it's only available in the US and Nokians US-webiste doesn't go into much detail). Both Hakka 1 and 2 are "studdable", meaning you can run them with- or without studs. I don't think studs are a godd idea here in the Boston area, only in places where you have continuous snow or ice-cover throughout the winter. But I don't think having the stud mounting holes degrades the performance of the tire without studs in any way.

Hakkapeliita 2 is the newer design. The reason I went with it is the modern rubber compound, using less polyaromatic hydrocarbons. This goes nicely with the "green" aspect of the Insight.
 

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micro hubcaps?

Electric CO said:
I found some OEM chrome "H" logos for the middle of the wheels this week-end...4 for $10! Armin, you have to add some to your install!
I knew I was missing something!

That naked nut ther in the middle of the wheel does bother me! What if salt and grime gets in there?

What is that part called so I can ask for it? Micro-hubcap?
 

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Nokian Hakka 2 is an improvement over the Hakka 1 and both of these are studable.
Hakka Q is designed to be a studless less winter tire so it uses a softer compound and since it doesn' t need to leave room for studs it has much more slits on the rubber for sipping water away. In fact the Hakka Q is so soft that Nokian first sold it in Quebec (where it's colder) and were reluctant to sell it in Ontario because it would wear out so much quicker.

IF you want a long lasting great winter tire the Hakka 1 or 2 is great choice. If you will not be using studs and want better ice traction then the Hakka Q is a better choice (at the expense of faster wear).

Here is link to a forum where all they talk about is tires and since it's winter it's mostly winter tire talk. There are great experts that contribute at this forum.

http://www.canadiandriver.com/discuss/messages/2479/2479.html?1042254775
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks, Guillermo - interesting postings in the forum. Makes sense that our Canadian neighbors are such snow experts...

Is the softer compound in the Hakka Q a liability with such a light car? I remember one of the early long-term reviews of the Insight discussed mounting Blizzaks and then regretting it due to the softness and deep tread - the car became squirmy. That might lead toward a Hakka 1/2?

From Car and Driver's long-term test: "'Very twitchy on the highway,' commented one chronicler. 'This car demands more attention to drive than most.' This trait was aggravated by the addition of a set of Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires. We have high respect for Blizzaks, but in this application they didn't work well in dry conditions. In fact, one logbook note flatly stated that the winter tires "ruin the car. It's virtually undrivable on the freeway on these big, tall, wobbly tire-tread blocks."

http://www.caranddriver.com/article.asp ... e_number=1

Mike
 

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Yes, excellent point.
The Hakka 1 and 2 should be less squirmy then the Hakka Q at highway speeds. But if you want better highway handling, you could try a performance winter tire like the Kumho KW17 in 175/65R14. This size is 2.3% larger resulting in an accurate speedometer and slightly higher ground clearance by 0.3 inches. This tire looks like it could have lower then average rolling resistance.
A winter tire in a 185/60R14 size will feel and handle even better but a narrower winter tire works better in deep snow.

(as stated in previous posts the OEM tire size causes speedometer to be wrong by -2%)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Got the tires!

My new snows are on. I went with Nokian Hakka 2s, in the OEM size (165/65R14). I picked up some used 14" CRX wheels on ebay, which seem perfect -- light, look good. The ebay seller was about 20 minutes from my office, so I didn't have to pay to ship them; they ended up costing me about what I was getting quoted for steel wheels at local junkyards. I had the tire dealer inflate the tires to 40 psi. Although the tires are studdable, I don't have studs.

First impressions: a light humming noise at "around town" speeds; at highway speed, the wind noise tends to wash it out. But at highway speeds I could feel a little vibration in the steering wheel and pedals -- I suspect it was slightly more noticable than the stock tires, but then again, I was looking for any noise or vibration. On-the-road performance didn't seem much different from OEMs, but I wasn't pushing them hard. But I was glad to see that they didn't feel "squishy".

Mileage was about 4-5 mpg lower than normal for my round-trip commute today, but I didn't reset it after the snows were installed, and I did have to flog the car (i.e., faster than 75...) yesterday for about 20 miles to catch a plane -- so mileage was lousy to begin with. I'll get cleaner results tomorrow.

Now all I need is some snow -- the roads are completely bare again.

I'll reply one more time with a snow traction report once I have snow to play in.

Thank you all for your thoughts and recommendations -- this is a great forum!

Yours,
Mike
 

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OT

This is OT, I just read this tread. I have Nokian Hakka 1

HI,

To Electric CO:

I used to work in the SpeedWare building near the corner of highway 40 and Cavendish boulvard. There was a grey Insight on a street near the building, could it be you?
There are not many Insights in Quebec.
I own a red Insight, you might have seen my car.

Yves,
2000#45
 
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