Managing tires for the upcoming ski season.

murphysf

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Hello,

I am seeking advice for managing my tires this winter.

I live in the SF bay area and plan to make 10 round trips to Lake Tahoe (Incline Village, Nevada) this coming winter between the months of late December and late March.

My vehicle is a 2000 Lexus RX300 AWD, very similar to a Highlander. Tire size is 225/70-16.

My current tires are Cooper CS5 Grand Touring.

I just took a tread gauge and took 4 measurements per tire, one measurement per groove (grooves are the spaces between adjacent tread ribs). Measurements are listed from inside to outside. This is what I got.


Front Right

6/32 inside groove

8/32

8/32

7/32 outside groove

Left Front

7/32 inside groove

8/32

8/32

7.5/32 outside groove

Right Rear

7/32 inside groove

7.5/32

7.5/32

7/32 outside groove

Left Rear

7/32 inside groove

8/32

8/32

7/32 outside groove


I just purchased 4 new Kumho Crugen HT51 tires. They are All Season tires with the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake rating. I have not mounted the tires yet.

I also have 4 full size steel wheels for the vehicle sitting in my garage.

For next season late Dec – late March should I:

  1. Leave the current tires on the vehicle assuming the amount of tread listed above will safely get me through the winter.
  2. Mount the new Kumho Crugen HT51 tires on the alloy wheels that are currently on the car and dispose the Cooper CS5s.
  3. Mount the new Kumho Crugen HT51 on the 4 steel wheels and put them on the vehicle for the Dec through March months, and put them in storage in the off season?
  4. Other?
Thanks!
 

Ogg

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I'd say 2. With 10 trips planned the odds are pretty good you'll experience some nasty conditions and swapping back in forth between sets of all season tires is an unnecessary hassle, IMO.
 
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murphysf

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I'd say 2. With 10 trips planned the odds are pretty good you'll experience some nasty conditions and swapping back in forth between sets of all season tires is an unnecessary hassle, IMO.
The idea wouldn't be to swap them back and forth for every trip, just initially in December or just before the the first trip where there might be a storm and then off again in March.
 

cantunamunch

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#2 - the Crugen is not so good a tire in winter that it warrants being saved for winter use only; the alloy wheels will save you gas on weight alone.

The wear you measured could be due to a number of factors- keep checking your pressures.
It is good to have an alignment because out of alignment cars pull in strange directions on slippery terrain.
 

Bruuuce

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I'd actually suggest #1 since the Kuhmos are all-seasons rather than true winter tires. Get some chains or autosocks (you should have those anyway) for bad weather and do the swap next fall when the tread depth has dropped through the summer.

I'd rather you had bought a good set of all-weathers like the Nokian WRG4 or the Toyo Celsius, but that is water under the bridge...
 
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cantunamunch

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I'd actually suggest #1 since the Kuhmos are all-seasons rather than true winter tires. Get some chains or autosocks (you should have those anyway) for bad weather and do the swap next fall when the tread depth has dropped through the summer.
I thought about that option too - my reason for not picking it was that 6/32 depth gets filled fast when the snow is dense and wet, which is to be expected in Cali, and he may not have time or space to pull over.

I know nothing about how well autosocks work in slush/melt/wet bottom accumulation - are they any good in black-white waterlogged mix?

I'd rather you had bought a good set of all-weathers like the Nokian WRG4 or the Toyo Celcius, but that is water under the bridge...
Indeed.
 

Bruuuce

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I thought about that option too - my reason for not picking it was that 6/32 depth gets filled fast when the snow is dense and wet, which is to be expected in Cali, and he may not have time or space to pull over.

I know nothing about how well autosocks work in slush/melt/wet bottom accumulation - are they any good in black-white waterlogged mix?
I haven't had a chance to use my autosocks yet, but I've heard great things. My guess is they are more for dry deep snow or hard ice/snow than for slushy mixes. I do carry both those and real chains in my truck to give me both options.

Yeah, I saw the 6/32 too, but figure that the majority are 7/32-8/32 which is OK (not great) for all season use. Driving ability also figures in. I'd feel OK stretching one more winter out of those, but I drive in snow all the time. For someone that doesn't have experience it may be a different story.
 

Unpiste

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I'd actually suggest #1 since the Kuhmos are all-seasons rather than true winter tires. Get some chains or autosocks (you should have those anyway) for bad weather and do the swap next fall when the tread depth has dropped through the summer.

I'd rather you had bought a good set of all-weathers like the Nokian WRG4 or the Toyo Celsius, but that is water under the bridge...
How do you classify "all-season" vs. "all-weathers" vs. "true winter" tire?

Both the HT51 and WRG4 have the mountain snowflake designation, so are definitely winter tires of a sort. Both also seem to be targeting more or less the same market, though the Nokians do look like the more premium option.


I have a similar commute to the mountains and ran Nokian WRG3s on my Subaru Crosstrek for 3 seasons with good results. I'm currently running R3s due to a mixup at the tire place, but wear, surprisingly, is not much of an issue. (And snow hold is amazing, though the tires do get a bit squishy in warmer weather due to compound and siping.) It looks like I should have no trouble getting 2 seasons and about 50k miles out of the tires. (Keep in mind, the majority of this driving is in 50~85° weather, even in winter.) In this time I've never once had a reason to use chains, though I do carry them.

I don't swap tires because the vast majority of those miles are for skiing. (Though I suppose I was skiing into summer this year, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .)
 

Unpiste

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Having run both R3s and WRG3s for this commute, I would absolutely recommend the WRG3 over a dedicated winter tire. Yes, the R3s are excellent in snow, but we're talking about an area where you quite literally have to drive 120 miles before you reach anything much resembling winter.

R3s work, but you're throwing away a fair amount of performance for those occasions you hit a snowstorm. WRG3s will still get you through pretty much anything that isn't going to shut down the roads here.
 

nesneros

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How do you classify "all-season" vs. "all-weathers" vs. "true winter" tire?

Both the HT51 and WRG4 have the mountain snowflake designation, so are definitely winter tires of a sort. Both also seem to be targeting more or less the same market, though the Nokians do look like the more premium option.


I have a similar commute to the mountains and ran Nokian WRG3s on my Subaru Crosstrek for 3 seasons with good results. I'm currently running R3s due to a mixup at the tire place, but wear, surprisingly, is not much of an issue. (And snow hold is amazing, though the tires do get a bit squishy in warmer weather due to compound and siping.) It looks like I should have no trouble getting 2 seasons and about 50k miles out of the tires. (Keep in mind, the majority of this driving is in 50~85° weather, even in winter.) In this time I've never once had a reason to use chains, though I do carry them.

I don't swap tires because the vast majority of those miles are for skiing. (Though I suppose I was skiing into summer this year, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .)
You can just tell a true winter tire by its tread. Tires are, of course, categorized as well, and some all seasons do meet the standards for the snowflake symbol, but they are generally not good for snow for as long(as the tread wears), and not as good performing as a dedicated winter tire.

IMO, you’re at a crossroads where you can choose to just run a decent all-season tire or do dedicated winter/summer setup.

I wouldn’t use your Kumho as a dedicated winter tire, I’d either put it on your alloys and just use them as a good new tire year round, or use them as your normal tire and get a set of real winters on the steel wheels.

Either way it means swapping your Coopers for the Kumho. Being brand new you can do that before your first trip, ride out the season with them and they are probably going to be better than most all seasons. Then next fall you can decide if you want to extend the life of the Kumho by adding some real winter tires to your steel wheels and swapping them out, or just keep using the Kumho.

here’s a shot of the tread on the VikingContact7 winter tires I just bought. You can see the difference between that and the tread on your all season.
FC4135E3-25D3-4F66-9E4A-BB92961D8A30.jpeg
 

nesneros

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I was looking at those recently - what size and vehicle ?
I got a set for the wife’s Volvo XC90 and a set for my X3. Both are 235/55 19”.

I did some research and the test results impressed me, especially for the price. The Nokian winter tires that would fit our Volvo OEM wheels are $400 each. Instead I got some 19” wheels for $200 each and these VikingContact 7s for $160 each.
 

Unpiste

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You can just tell a true winter tire by its tread. Tires are, of course, categorized as well, and some all seasons do meet the standards for the snowflake symbol, but they are generally not good for snow for as long(as the tread wears), and not as good performing as a dedicated winter tire.

IMO, you’re at a crossroads where you can choose to just run a decent all-season tire or do dedicated winter/summer setup.

I wouldn’t use your Kumho as a dedicated winter tire, I’d either put it on your alloys and just use them as a good new tire year round, or use them as your normal tire and get a set of real winters on the steel wheels.

Either way it means swapping your Coopers for the Kumho. Being brand new you can do that before your first trip, ride out the season with them and they are probably going to be better than most all seasons. Then next fall you can decide if you want to extend the life of the Kumho by adding some real winter tires to your steel wheels and swapping them out, or just keep using the Kumho.

here’s a shot of the tread on the VikingContact7 winter tires I just bought. You can see the difference between that and the tread on your all season.
View attachment 82966
The question was a little more nuanced, and aimed mostly at the distinctions @Bruuuce was making between tire types.

Treads, for reference:
Tire854.jpg Tire674.jpg

Also, the tread on my "all seasons":
Tire344.jpg
(Edit for clarity: Not all season, obviously.)

If I was going to make any distinction, the WRG3/4 is a winter tire with an all-season leaning, while the HT51 is an all-season with a winter leaning, but I'm not really sure that distinction matters. Anything that's going to be good driving from the Bay Area to the Sierras is going to need to span categories. This is not a climate suited to winter tires aiming for cold weather and snow performance to the exclusion of most everything else.
 
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Ken_R

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The idea wouldn't be to swap them back and forth for every trip, just initially in December or just before the the first trip where there might be a storm and then off again in March.
That sounds like a pain. The Kumhos dont look like the typically soft winter tires so why swap? Your current tires are almost done and the Kumhos seem to be a good all around tire for daily use.
 

nesneros

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The question was a little more nuanced, and aimed mostly at the distinctions @Bruuuce was making between tire types.

Treads, for reference:
View attachment 82969 View attachment 82970

Also, the tread on my "all seasons":
View attachment 82974

If I was going to make any distinction, the WRG3/4 is a winter tire with an all-season leaning, while the HT51 is an all-season with a winter leaning, but I'm not really sure that distinction matters. Anything that's going to be good driving from the Bay Area to the Sierras is going to need to span categories. This is not a climate suited to winter tires aiming for cold weather and snow performance to the exclusion of most everything else.
that last tread looks just like the nokian hakkapeliitta R3 that I would have had to pay $400 a pop for on my 21” wheels. Those are definitely not all seasons.

I agree the thought of running around the Bay Area in the winter with full-on winter tires like that seems silly. Then again the sierras in winter are no joke. It’s a tough situation, maybe just stick with the all seasons and pack a tire sock for emergencies as mentioned earlier.
 
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Bruuuce

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How do you classify "all-season" vs. "all-weathers" vs. "true winter" tire?
Lots of information sinmce I posted that but here is how I look at it:

All-season: long life with an attempt at decent winter performance.
All-weather: usually combination tread (see the WRG4 or Celsius) with much better winter performance but still decent wear and dry handling.
True winter tire: soft tread with many sipes. Focused on winter performance, poor tread life, squishy warm weather handling.

I'm really interested in the all-weather category. There are a number of manufacturers entering this segment and I think it will be a great improvement over all-seasons for those in snowier climates. I looked at them for my Audi to avoid the tire switchout before deciding to just go the seperate Blizzak/wheel route again. I'd love to try one in the snow and ice to see how much of a difference there is compared to snows.
 

cantunamunch

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I'm still not sure about the all-weather category. Not because we get a bunch of snow - but because we get cold air blasts and cold roads and glassy rubber tires. The snow is almost extraneous.
 

Bruuuce

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I'm still not sure about the all-weather category. Not because we get a bunch of snow - but because we get cold air blasts and cold roads and glassy rubber tires. The snow is almost extraneous.
That's why I'd love to take them out on the ice. I might check to see if the Bridgestone school has any this year.
 
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