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Thread: Winter Truck tires

  1. #1
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    Winter Truck tires


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    Howdy folks.

    Well winter is coming and it's time (for me anyway) to start looking at new tires. I live in south eastern Washington where we can see as much as 2 feet of snow at times. What do you all like to wear for the winter?
    This is the first time that I'll be in need of a good set of real winter tires. So I'm kind of lost. I've been reading tire reviews the past few evenings. And it seems like a lot of folks (on off road forums) will buy a mud tire and sipe the heck out of them for winter. But then my brother, who has lived in snow all his life, and has worked as a hunting guide and a truck driver, tells me that all I need to look for in a 5 lug tire with soft rubber. I do a fair bit of driving on dirt and gravel roads with some off roading around job sites.
    I may just end up buying whatever good year of les schwab has on sale, but I'd like to get some opinions on what folks here are using for winter.
    My truck is a 1996 Nissan SE-V6 king cab 4x4. My current tires were used when I got the truck (so I don't know how many miles are on them) and I've put 80,000 miles on them They're wrangler rt/s 's. Should I just go ahead and get another set or should I go and get some real snow tires and switch them out in the spring? Or should I just pick up some all season tires and wear them all year? Mud tires with sipes? What do you all think about studs? Please let me know what you all think. I'd like to spend less than $700 but $1000 isn't out of the question.

    My wife drives a little front wheel drive KIA and she'll end up with some studded tires in November. And she'll be back on stock tires in April.


    Thanks
    -Chris

  2. #2
    I can highly recommend Firestone Winterforce tires. I've had them on two different vehicles and loves more than satisfied. Before I got these I wasn't a winter tire person also the two vehicles the tires were on four-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive vehicles. They did not need them but what a difference it made.

  3. #3
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    I like the price on the Firestone Winterforce's. But I keep running across threads where folks seem to talk like the Wrangler Duratracs are the be all and end all winter tires. I may not end up driving a ton on unplowed roads, but I will be driving around 200 miles a week on snow and ice. If I end up with stud-able times should I just go ahead and stud up?
    I grew up in California where there was no snow, and I live in Seattle for 7 years or so where they didn't salt the roads and everything was either up or down. Maybe I'm too worried about the snow? In seattle everything just about shut down when it snowed, folks had no idea what to do, and everything would turn into a sheet of ice due to the lack of salt. Maybe it'll be better out here....

  4. #4
    Tough to say but I can say that studded tires are great on ice and hard packed snow,pavement not so much.

  5. #5
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    I run a set of Dean radial SXT mud terrains that are siped and they are great on ice and snow. They also have stud holes but I'm running them year-round so I go studless. I also had a set of Toyo M55 tractions and they also do very well when siped and they last a long time, they're also a great tire that I used to run year-round but can also be studded.

  6. #6
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    My sister in law ended up with some studs last year for the first time and she's pretty happy with them. She lives about 12 miles from town and had to drive to work everyday last winter. But she has a front wheel drive mini van, so it's a little different.
    I've really leaning towards the dura tracs, but I don't know. The Firestone Winterforce's are less than half the price.

  7. #7
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    I use Blizzaks or Mitchelin x-ice on my little suv. The studless winter tires are getting pretty good. Good all seasons with chains and common sense should suffice. This winter is supposed to be dry and warm.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pierce View Post
    My sister in law ended up with some studs last year for the first time and she's pretty happy with them. She lives about 12 miles from town and had to drive to work everyday last winter. But she has a front wheel drive mini van, so it's a little different.
    I've really leaning towards the dura tracs, but I don't know. The Firestone Winterforce's are less than half the price.
    Not that it makes a huge difference, but I forgot to mention I lived my entire life in North East Oregon right on the state line likely not too far from where you're at (or I'm at least somewhat familiar with the area) so I know I can get by pretty good in the region with those tires. At least when I have the 4wd in and I'm not surprised by black ice. I almost became a Mack hood ornament...

  9. #9
    Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs. Awesome reviews.

  10. #10
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    I lived in Yakima, WA up until about 16 months ago. I never used "Snow Tires" on my truck. Get an all terrain or mud terrain and throw some sand in the back of the truck. Couple hundred pounds and you should be good.

    Other than that, pick up some chains from Les Schwab (you don't use them they take em back at the end of the year) and carry them around.

  11. #11
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    A couple of things that I've learned about tires, while working in the "far north" of the Alberta oil patch, and growing up in a very rural area. Lots of guys swear by siped mud tires. Those self same guys wonder why they get no traction in cold weather. A good set of all terrains will work as long as you drive smart. I've driven a lot of different trucks on BFG all terrains, and 90% of the time they are fine. They do suck on glare ice though, but they do ride pretty well on dry highways, (something that no mud tire really does)
    I know lots of folks who ran x-ice or blizzaks and they are great all-round winter road tire. You still need to be smart, but they do the job better on ice. The caveat of true winter tires is that dry pavement kills them, so you can make that call for yourself. If you drive most of the time on dry roads, then maybe the all terrains would be a good idea. Personally I would avoid studded tires unless you knew you were going to spend a season on very icy roads. half of snow driving is the driver, I've met all kinds of people who complain about this or that. I've driven AWD, 4WD, FWD, RWD, limited slips and not, ABS, straight brakes, auto and stick, And my honest opinion is that every time I've ended up in the ditch, its been my fault, not the trucks. (that said, I did drive a spooky slick f350 last winter, but it was running close to bald tires, and they actually did suck, that's why I got that rig, the owner trusted me not to bust it)
    so in short, going to be on ice all the time = studs
    soft snow, slush, ice and stuff = winter tires
    mix of wet-dry some snow, some not = ATs or all seasons, drive smart, keep your truck balanced, and tires at the right pressure(another ditch adventure in a company truck, was an F250 that the medic before hand had refused to drive, the tires were running around 55PSI, and as soon as I dropped them down to the 35psi range, it settled down quite well, I should have checked first)
    want to waste money= muds.
    If you do off-road, +1 on the suggestion to get a good set of tire chains. You can get away with just two if have locking diffs (if you have traction control that works on the brakes, you may need 4 no matter what you do) the main thing with chains is to go slow, stop often to check on them, but they can add a huge amount of traction, which can be very handy. Also, carry a good shovel.

    I'm no expert, but i've driven a number of different trucks, on a number of different tires in all of the few winters I've lived through, And I don't subscribe to any of the BS that I've had "experts" tell me. I'm only going on what I've experienced myself.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadgetgeek View Post
    A couple of things that I've learned about tires, while working in the "far north" of the Alberta oil patch, and growing up in a very rural area. Lots of guys swear by siped mud tires. Those self same guys wonder why they get no traction in cold weather. A good set of all terrains will work as long as you drive smart. I've driven a lot of different trucks on BFG all terrains, and 90% of the time they are fine. They do suck on glare ice though, but they do ride pretty well on dry highways, (something that no mud tire really does)
    I know lots of folks who ran x-ice or blizzaks and they are great all-round winter road tire. You still need to be smart, but they do the job better on ice. The caveat of true winter tires is that dry pavement kills them, so you can make that call for yourself. If you drive most of the time on dry roads, then maybe the all terrains would be a good idea. Personally I would avoid studded tires unless you knew you were going to spend a season on very icy roads. half of snow driving is the driver, I've met all kinds of people who complain about this or that. I've driven AWD, 4WD, FWD, RWD, limited slips and not, ABS, straight brakes, auto and stick, And my honest opinion is that every time I've ended up in the ditch, its been my fault, not the trucks. (that said, I did drive a spooky slick f350 last winter, but it was running close to bald tires, and they actually did suck, that's why I got that rig, the owner trusted me not to bust it)
    so in short, going to be on ice all the time = studs
    soft snow, slush, ice and stuff = winter tires
    mix of wet-dry some snow, some not = ATs or all seasons, drive smart, keep your truck balanced, and tires at the right pressure(another ditch adventure in a company truck, was an F250 that the medic before hand had refused to drive, the tires were running around 55PSI, and as soon as I dropped them down to the 35psi range, it settled down quite well, I should have checked first)
    want to waste money= muds.
    If you do off-road, +1 on the suggestion to get a good set of tire chains. You can get away with just two if have locking diffs (if you have traction control that works on the brakes, you may need 4 no matter what you do) the main thing with chains is to go slow, stop often to check on them, but they can add a huge amount of traction, which can be very handy. Also, carry a good shovel.

    I'm no expert, but i've driven a number of different trucks, on a number of different tires in all of the few winters I've lived through, And I don't subscribe to any of the BS that I've had "experts" tell me. I'm only going on what I've experienced myself.
    ^+1

    I grew up in *rural* Northern Michigan as well as living in other northern/mountainous terrain (including Europe) and i've used most of what's been on the market over the last 30+ years.

    Honestly, A/T tires and a set of chains (if they're legal in your locale) will get you through most of what an automobile is capable of (otherwise you will need a tractor/front-loader/etc). However, successful winter-driving is mostly driver-dependent - not the tires/AWD/4WD/FWD or whatever else. I prefer manual transmissions and 4WD that is mechanically engaged (to ensure this i drive an older car - 1998 Montero Sport). I also recently had a Land Rover Defender 110 which, drive-train-wise, was awesome in this regard (otherwise, they're cheaply made/poorly engineered), but not infallible.

    In reality, even my preferences don't matter too much if i'm not paying attention to the roads' conditions - it really comes down to the driving. If you're driving on plowed roads (either dirt or pavement) most of the time (as nearly everyone in America does), just get some "good" A/T tires and chains (if they're legal in your area) and you should be gtg.

  13. #13
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    I've put over 150,000 miles on my Ranger 4X4, almost all of them with BF Goodrich Comp A\T tires. I drive at least 30 miles a day here in Vermont. We get quite a lot of snow, although not like Alaska or anything. Never even have come close to getting stuck (well, maybe when my first set had 80,0000 miles on them). I have read quite a lot about winter tires and I'm convinced that they are the best way to go, but I'm also convinced that just a good set of the BF Goodrich tires will work for almost anything.

    (I don't plow, etc., just drive it to work on paved roads, any an occasional foray up a logging road).

  14. #14
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    After many years of driving on Montana roads in the winter, I can tell you that siped mud tires are in no way "a waste of money". I have a like new set of Toyo snow tires sitting in the garage right now that were replaced by mud tires. I have ran snow tires, all terrain, studded snow.. Just about every type I could find and nothing did as well as siped mud tires. One thing to remember is to lower the pressure in the tires in the winter, (if you aren't pulling a trailer or carrying a heavy load) I run around 32 pounds all winter and keep 500 pounds of sand in the bed of my pickup. I haven't had to put my truck in 4wd on a paved road since I put the mud tires on it.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for all the input! I will probably end up buying the Good Year DruaTrac's. BUT I found a pair of Wintercat Radial SST winter tires for sale with 50% tread, for the price I think I like them AND they come on rims for my truck already. On the other hand, i'll spend the better part of a day going to pick them up, since they're three hours away. But for a little more than price of one new tire I can have all four and rims.
    I like the idea of having them mounted for the winter and then picking up some all terrains for the summer ( my current tires are about bald now).
    But the wintercat's are actual snow tires, so I may destroy them this winter if there's no snow for a while. Which is a possibility, last winter we had several really good dumps but for the most part roads were dry. We might be under two feet of snow for two or three weeks then be dry for two or three weeks. I don't know how typical that is, but lately it seems that a-typical is what the weather wants to do.

    It's funny, today I talked to a farmer, a truck driver and a grocery store maintenance super about what they run in the winter. And they all said they run whatever they have. And along with what everyone here said I guess I don't have to worry about it too much. The truck driver had some worn out all terrains, and the farmer had mud terrains, I didn't have a chance to see what the maintenance guy had.
    Maybe I'll just go take a look at the sale rack in town and not worry about it anymore.

  16. #16
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    As stated, the more sipes, the better. A tire that works excellent in my state at 25+ degrees, may not work well at -30 degrees. Also, as previously stated, the "Blizzak Like" tires wear out quickly & usually only last one season with top performance, if blacktop driving is done. I have a set of Cooper Discoverer STT's on separate rims for the winter. They have worked excellent for me. I also have BFG A/T's that came stock on my Power Wagon. They work excellent in snow on the road but if you go off-road in deep snow---forget it, they suck. Thats where my STT's shine. Get a mud tire spinning & it self cleans well. The BFG A/T's---not-so-much.

  17. #17
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    Another question. I'm planning on buying the used wintercat's locally. Should I have these tires balanced? Or should they already be balanced since they're on rims?

  18. #18
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    My advice is BFG's TKO's. Get them siped. I have run them for decades, and grew up driving them on my dad's FJ40.

    They are fantastic in snow for me. Great milage too, and you don't have to switch them out, just run them all year.

    They are severe storm rated (they have the mountain and snowflake on the side). One of the only AT tires with that rating that I know of.

    I ran them through both years of "Snow-pocalypse" in Spokane, both years. I think we had 89 and 92 inches in back to back years in town!

    I have run them on the FJ40 for 25 years? Then on my full sized 89 Bronco, and Ford Ranger.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigghoss View Post
    I run a set of Dean radial SXT mud terrains that are siped and they are great on ice and snow. They also have stud holes but I'm running them year-round so I go studless. I also had a set of Toyo M55 tractions and they also do very well when siped and they last a long time, they're also a great tire that I used to run year-round but can also be studded.
    +1 on the M-55's. I still use them on my Dodge 4x4 year around. I don't get mine siped though. I spend a fair amount of time on gravel roads, and I don't want them to start chunking out.

    We usually get a decent amount of snow and ice here ( Bend, Oregon ). I have never had studs on any of my tires. Not to say it would be a bad thing, just never felt the need.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pierce View Post
    Another question. I'm planning on buying the used wintercat's locally. Should I have these tires balanced? Or should they already be balanced since they're on rims?
    They should be balanced. I would install them and see if you have any vibration or shaking. If there isn't any, the balance is fine. I would check the air pressure too. If you are buying them used, there are a lot of people that never check the pressure, and you could have one that has a slow leak.

    IMHO, a decent set of all terrain tires, 4 wheel drive, and common sense will get you through just about anything you would want to do.

    It's never a bad idea to have chains. I bought a really good set for my Dodge 4x4. They are a heavy link chain, with cam locks. They are basically a scaled down version of the chains I use on the gas tanker I drive. I figure if its bad enough I need to chain up my pickup, I want some chains that are really going to improve traction. The main reason I got them was for elk hunting, when I was still rifle hunting.
    ______________

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    R.I.P Bill ( Maniacal Pete ) I only wish there was something we could have done to help...

  20. #20
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    Check out Pacemark Snowtrakkers.

    They're the best I've found for around here (ski town).

    I get mine studded.

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