Ski Club 2.0 Home
Snow Reports
FAQFAQ

Mail for help.Help!!

Log in to snowHeads to make it MUCH better!
Username:-
 Password:
Remember me:
durr, I forgot...
Or Register
(to be a proper snow-head, all official-like!)

Winter Tyres...how essential?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Planning on taking the motorhome to the alps this month for a couple of months if funds permit. Will try and do a few resorts. Been pricing up winter tyres and if I am to buy four it will put me back from going by another few weeks. Have got chains and confident using them and driving with them on but how essential are winter tyres? I know they are good but want to hear from people that have managed without or experiences with both?

Be interested to hear back.

Cheers
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The first 9 of my 18 winters in the alps I didn't have snow tyres, just all seasons and chains and a good sense of self preservation (driving modestly). Never had any issues.
Yes my chunky snow tyres and high clearance 4x4 that I now drive is way easier.
I've only put chains on to tow out stuck vehicles when the snow is up around the headlights!
You are driving between your chosen bases, not commuting to a job in all weathers. Chains and care and you'll be fine.
snow report     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
If you are headed to Austria, winters are a requirement (or all season, they have to have the M&S marking)
latest report     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
@duncansarmy,
When our children were small, we skied in France, Switzerland, Austria and Norway based on the camper. Our first van had summer tyres and we needed and used chains although primarily manoeuvring around campsites as I remember. It also had poor insulation and we quickly changed it for a camper with better insulation and winter tyres(it was a German make). After that we didn’t need chains although we always carried them. It’s hard to say what you will need as you can never double guess the conditions but my bet, based on ten years plus experience, would be you will be OK with chains.
snow report     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
We always drive to alps end of Feb or March. Although we never have had lots of snow on alpine roads we always run winter tires. I would rather be safe than sorry especially driving with kids.
snow conditions     
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
I think you'll be OK with chains too, given that you are experienced with them - the problem with some drivers is they dread the chains and leave it far too late to put them on. There are plenty of vehicles without winter tyres round the French Alps, that's for sure. You do see some vehicles which have skidded off the road - but they are surprisingly often either BMWs or pretend 4WD efforts. I did once tow a Porsche 4WD out of a snow drift with my Fiat Multipla - though I did have winter tyres. Just be sensible - and avoid moving on Saturdays! Have fun. snowHead
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Being there for a few weeks and with a big heavy vehicle like a motorhome, I would say winter tyres are pretty essential - though if you avoid Austria and have the flexibility to wait a couple of days after any storm for the roads to dry out before you move on you could probably get away without.
latest report     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
There's a lot to be said for winter tyres...the last couple of weeks in the mountains they have made our life easy. No need to even think about chains (ours is 4WD as well). The car just feels very solid and safe on the snow , both uphill and down. It's going downhill that can be the most nerve shredding in my opinion.

Mr P ordered them online from Germany...Have you shopped around to find the best price? You might even pick up a set of part worn ones from EBay (we sold the tyres from our old Skoda Yeti online).

However, if the cost is going to prevent you from leaving for a few weeks, I can see why you would want to avoid buying them and stick to chains. I think it depends on how much driving you intend to do, and whether you can pick the days you drive on so as to avoid the snowier ones.
latest report     
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Winter tyres are fab, but in your case I’d say stick with your normal tyres and chains. Just be sensible and accept that you may not always be able to drive where you want, when you want. You might find you need to stay in place for a day or so longer than planned and may need to park within walking distance of shops/lifts etc. (Obviously if winter tyres are mandatory, then you have no choice’.)
ski holidays     
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Don't be too swayed by replies from people driving cars with no experience of how little grip the average motorhome has, especially if you are touring around rather than driving once up and once down.

We are on our sixth 2 month tour, always on winter tyres, and we've had three unexpected slides. Chains on summer tyres might get you up a slope but going downhill with 2 tonnes and summer tyres on the rear is asking for trouble.

I bought new winters this year even though the old ones still had 5 mm tread because at 6 years old the rubber had lost its flexibility.
latest report     
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
This is the motor home park in La Plagne a couple of weeks ago - Your call if you need summers and chains or winters or Winters and chains!



PS. Its not always this quiet!
snow report     
 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@boredsurfin,
In weather like that we would have stayed in Bourg and used the cable car/buses! For example, in one very snowy February we stayed in Frutigen and caught the bus up to Adelboden. It just removed the stress of the journey up and down. On another occasion, we left Seefeld a day early as there was a prospect that the main road was going to be closed because of avalanche danger. Winter tyres with or without chains wouldn’t have helped us then. The point is you have to be flexible and be prepared to change plans if the weather dictates. The camper was great at allowing us to do that. We would leave a decision on where to go to the last minute and then go where the snow and weather looked best.
latest report     
 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Welshcakes, Yep, that site fills up as soon as the tarmac is black all the way up, I guess the vans stay in the valley until the webcams show the black roads Very Happy
The day after I took that photo the bulldozers were in there and cleared the section in the foreground and the day after that all 4 sections were cleared and were quickly filled with vans after the next few days.
snow conditions     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I was lucky, someone offered to offload some Motorhome snow tyres and I got them for £200. For 80% of the time the roads are clear and you'll be fine, but Motorhomes are tricky beasts, especially when the rear end starts to slide. IMO you need snow chains as well.
latest report     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@duncansarmy, I'd never go near the Alps without winters on.
snow report     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@BoardieK,
Quote:


Don't be too swayed by replies from people driving cars with no experience of how little grip the average motorhome has, especially if you are touring around rather than driving once up and once down.

We are on our sixth 2 month tour, always on winter tyres, and we've had three unexpected slides. Chains on summer tyres might get you up a slope but going downhill with 2 tonnes and summer tyres on the rear is asking for trouble.


Fair enough.

@duncansarmy, Maybe worth looking on eBay for some part used tyres and wheels.
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Get snow tyres, and chains. You can then drive in Germany, Austria and Switzerland legally, and Safely. I switch each winter, and I would need a second set of summer tyres before I got rid of the car anyhow. I therefore don't with a winter tyre switch each year. Over 4 years no additional cost for me and all the safety.
snow conditions     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@duncansarmy, If it's a front wheel drive, many of them are a bit light on the front, two weeks ago, a Fiat Ducato based motorhome pulled up at the roundabout in BSM, not much of a gradient but a packed icy road, it's possibly still there, wheelspinning and going nowhere!
The original tyres on my Ducato van are excellent for mileage but horrendous for grip on the wet as are many van tyres.
I'm currently driving with winters on the front and almost new originals on the back, apart from vastly improved traction in the wet and snow, i haven't noticed any adverse effect on handling by having the mix, even with snow on the roads. The case for four winter tyres on rwd is clear but short of running winters on the front and slicks on the rear, the case for four winters on fwd is less compelling.

In short, the slightest bit of snow or ice on the road and your fwd motorhome is going nowhere without winter tyres or chains.
ski holidays     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Wow thanks for all the responses! Tbh i'm probably more unsure now as i was before. Annoying as i recently had new tyres fitted to the rear and if i'd have thought on i would have opted for winters all round. @tangowaggon, it's a hymer ducato. Interesting you have a mix, i was considering doing this but couldn't determine which would be more beneficial, front/drive or rear/weight, upon reading up on the subject it seems to be a big no, although many people claiming it's a way of tyre manufacturers increasing profit.

So i'm still unsure, my thinking was if it get's real bad then any tyre is going to struggle and i just hole up and sit it out until the roads are cleared which is usually quick out there. But then the thought of going down a hill that's had a slight dusting is a bit daunting.

Appreciate all the help and any more thoughts please keep them coming!
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
boredsurfin wrote:
@Welshcakes, Yep, that site fills up as soon as the tarmac is black all the way up, I guess the vans stay in the valley until the webcams show the black roads Very Happy
The day after I took that photo the bulldozers were in there and cleared the section in the foreground and the day after that all 4 sections were cleared and were quickly filled with vans after the next few days.


Is it difficult to get a space there? I was thinking of visiting La plagne
snow report     
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
duncansarmy wrote:
Wow thanks for all the responses! Tbh i'm probably more unsure now as i was before. Annoying as i recently had new tyres fitted to the rear and if i'd have thought on i would have opted for winters all round. @tangowaggon, it's a hymer ducato. Interesting you have a mix, i was considering doing this but couldn't determine which would be more beneficial, front/drive or rear/weight, upon reading up on the subject it seems to be a big no, although many people claiming it's a way of tyre manufacturers increasing profit.
!

With fwd all of the traction and steering and most of the braking are done by the front wheels, the rear wheels simply stop the back end from scraping along the road Very Happy
If it's a big no to have winters on the front and std tyres on the rear, why is it ok to just put chains on the front and nothing on the rear? Van tyres tend to be a more multipurpose tread pattern than some of the low rolling resistance summer car tyres that have zero chance of grip in snow.
I am happy with my set up of nearly new std tyres on the rear and winters on the front of a fwd van.
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
^^^ which is fine until you are decelerating (brakes or on the engine) downhill around a bend and find the rear of the van is suddenly overtaking the front.

In other words it's maybe viable, but not optimal.

Also whilst I agree on the above about tread patterns; non winter van tyres tend to have very hard compounds, which is a counter factor.

Having said that I've driven to and from and around the Alps many times on summers with chains in the boot and been just fine. Whatever your set up is the main thing is to know what its limitations are and adjust your planning and driving to suit. So if you have a motorhome with mixed winter/summer and the roads are a bit iffy then do drive in a comparable manner to someone who has chains on one axle, if you're on summers only (be it on a van, car or SUV) then get your chains on when appropriate (ie earlier than you probably think), and if you're in an SUV with winters then remember physics still applies.

God, how sanctimonious I sound.
latest report     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I think the thing to bear in mind is that large fwd motorhomes have compromised traction at the best of times with most of the weight over the non driven wheels and, as I saw in BSM, they will get stuck on the slightest bit of ice when other vehicles passed without problem.
snow conditions     
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Agreed, and I'm not questioning the benefit of fitting winters to the front to keep you moving, I'm proposing that the best option is to complete that set up with the same at the rear for better/safer slowing, stopping & cornering.

Best option, but not only option. I'm not here to tell folk what they should do, lot's of set ups can work so long as you're aware of the limitations.
snow report     
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@tangowaggon Are you saying that you have winters on the front and summers on the back? My understanding is that mixing winter and summer tyres is illegal and will invalidate your insurance. I'm fairly sure that if you ask your insurer they'll confirm it. Aside from the potential for your rear to completely lose traction in a snowy bend. I thought that the 'rule' was that all wheels must be the same: all summers or all winters. I used to work for Pirelli and I know that tyre manufacturers absolutely prohibit mixing summer and winter tyres at the same time. If you had an accident and they were asked for an opinion, that's what they'd say.
ski holidays     
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@LaForet, As I say, if it's a problem having winters on the front and summers on the back of a fwd vehicle then it would be carnage with all the fwd vehicles that have chains or socks on the front and summers on the rear.
It will be prudent to check with my insurance of course but I see mo legsl case against it as long as the tyres are identical weight and speed rating. In practice I have been chucking the van around on the snow & ice the last week (when safe to do so) and there are no issues with handling at all.
ski holidays     
 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
"If you want to save money and fit two winter tyres - please don't do that." is the conclusion of the following 2 vs 4 winter tyre test:


http://youtube.com/v/K7xXDMkVFlE

Start at 1:08 for the main part of the 2 winter test. I don't know what more I can say to deter Forum viewers from taking what I think is a seriously bad decision in mixing winters and summers, against the advice of any vehicle or tyre manufacturer.
latest report     
 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Quote:

Whatever your set up is the main thing is to know what its limitations are and adjust your planning and driving to suit. So if you have a motorhome with mixed winter/summer and the roads are a bit iffy then do drive in a comparable manner to someone who has chains on one axle, if you're on summers only (be it on a van, car or SUV) then get your chains on when appropriate (ie earlier than you probably think), and if you're in an SUV with winters then remember physics still applies.

+1 !
Dear goodness - I swore I would never get involved in these debates but I just wanted to let the OP know what we had experienced over more than ten winters driving a fwd Hymer camper to the Alps/Scandinavia two or three times a season and also to show Midgetbiker some support for his eminently sensible comments. A road trip in a motor home gives you flexibility to engage brain and plan your travel to suit conditions but, as Midgetbiker says, you should do that whatever you are driving!
snow report     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Hmmm...... a video from a player in the tyre market telling you to buy 4 tyres not 2 - who'd a thought it.
I watched the next one where they said that you need to change them every 150 KM.
ski holidays     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

@LaForet, As I say, if it's a problem having winters on the front and summers on the back of a fwd vehicle then it would be carnage with all the fwd vehicles that have chains or socks on the front and summers on the rear.

But as soon as anyone fits chains or socks they immediately moderate their driving to allow for the fact they have done so and acknowledge the fact their vehicles ability to perform is restricted despite its greater traction on a couple of wheels. They slow down, they brake very cautiously, they are aware (or should be) of the disparate grip levels between the two axles. I guess if you're happy enough to drive like that 100% of the time (on any roads regardless of snow cover) then you will be ok on a winter/summer mix. Personally I wouldn't be keen on driving to/from the UK at 40kmh.

Anyway, like @Welshcakes I did promise myself I wouldn't get involved in these debates so that's my last word.

Whatever you all drive, just stay safe, common sense is the best winter driving aid Very Happy
latest report     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
BTW, just in case I sound at all 'know it all' or condescending did I mention that a couple of weeks ago I managed to beach my relatively high clearance 4 wheel drive winter tyre'd pick up so badly that I had to first dig myself out of the truck (as the snow was blocking the doors) and then spend a good 2 hrs digging out the underside to get some weight back on the wheels (once I'ld dug a trench around the truck for access) before I could back out of the mess I'ld put myself in. No? It must have slipped my mind.

A combination of complacency, over familiarity with the surroundings, arrogance, lack of attention and over confidence in the truck's abilities. Sounds like many of the danger signs for running into avi problems too!
latest report     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
^^^ so actually, that's my last word.
snow report     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@midgetbiker, Very Happy
snow report     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Drove a fwd Ducato Hymer (about 3 tonnes) around the Alps for a full season on standard tyres and with chains. Guess I didn’t know better at the time, but I wouldn’t do it again. Getting into a 4 wheel slide coming down from Claviere to Cesana was an interesting experience that I’d not like to repeat (there’s quite a long drop off that road 😱).
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
WindOfChange wrote:
Hmmm...... a video from a player in the tyre market telling you to buy 4 tyres not 2 - who'd a thought it.
I watched the next one where they said that you need to change them every 150 KM.

Having worked for Pirelli, I'm used to this objection of self-interest. Believe me, the advice to have all four the same is nothing to do with increasing sales. It's expert advice that's meant to genuinely help the OP in their quest for the safest and easiest option. Which is get a set of 4 winters. If they decide to use summers and socks or chains, then it's not as good a solution, but I can see the logic that it saves the cost and effort of the twice a year swap (the summers last longer, so there's no extra cost for the actual tyres over the lifetime of them both combined). My advice is that whatever you decide, do not get just two winters.
ski holidays     
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Different rubber performance very different at different temperatures.
So it is not all about snow or no snow, but more about having the right performance on cold clear pavements.
Brakinglength are quite different - that may save you live or damage to your car, or other people.
snow report     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
What persuaded me to get winter tyres was trying to drive along a Swiss motorway covered in snow. Everyone else had winter tyres and kept up a brisk 50mph. Very difficult to drive at a safe speed for summer tyres with everyone else barging past and certainly not a good scenario for chains.

I had previously driven to resorts using summer tyres supplemented with chains. IMO chains are fine for short distances at low speed on very difficult surfaces. Once I had winter tyres I found they worked pretty well on snowy roads and were especially good for partially covered roads where you could end up running chains on tarmac some of the time. In fact I haven't had to use the chains yet, although this weekend might be the first time...

I now have a cheapo set of steel wheels just for the winter tyres and swop the wheels over spring and autumn.
snow report     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I ran a set of Winters down over 3 years on a Transporter T5.
They were still perfectly legal tread-wise but I got to the point where I couldn't help thinking they weren't performing how I remembered them initially. But was I imagining it?
4 new Winter tyres half way through the season and OMG! What a div I was not to have changed them a year earlier!

Chains are for when you're stuck - Winter tyres are for when you're driving, in the cold and the wet as well as on snow and ice.
ski holidays     
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Ok so after digesting all this good advice and experiences i've decided to bite the bullet and get a full set of winters. I found a place an hour from me in Bury that has a set with 7mm tread on so i've driven the motorhome there and stopping the night ready to get them changed in the morning. Ironically it's snowed here and i've just had a very scary experience getting stuck half way up a steep hill, having carefully reversed all the way back down i am now certain i am making the correct decision. Having read @Caspar story i think i'll only be driving on clear days when i get to the alps! Thanks all.
latest report     
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
bolderz wrote:
What persuaded me to get winter tyres was trying to drive along a Swiss motorway covered in snow. Everyone else had winter tyres and kept up a brisk 50mph.
Similar but opposite: one of the first things that demonstrated I had made the right decision to get Winters was when we got sudden heavy snow just past Lyon. As we weren't near the mountains yet, most cars on the Motorway appeared not to have Winter tyres and within 15 mins it was carnage. But each time we encountered a vehicular killing field (usually caused by a gentle incline) we just slalomed through it. Eventually the BU5 4 DUB was the only vehicle moving on the A43. I kid U not! We were so lucky to be near the front of events because after 3 or 4 slaloms and a couple of short diversions, we really were out there on our own, laying down fresh tracks. The opposite carriageway had become a 3-lane parking lot, people were making snowmen on the central reservation - then we, as the only mobile object became the target for every snowball for a few miles!
snow report     



Terms and conditions  Privacy Policy