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Car thread: can I get by with RWD estate?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
billb wrote:
So I find it odd that someone would choose to run winter tyres all year. Summer tyres are called summer tyres for a reason but actually they are easily "three season" tyres in most of the UK.

Maybe some people don't drive much in the couple of weeks of summer.
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Winter tyres perform better in rain too so ideal for summer if you live in Manchester. Toofy Grin
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@billb, I think you are correct however my belief is that winter tyres perform just a little bit worse than summer tyres in summer but very much better than summer tyres in winter.

My wife’s Fiat Panda ran on winter tyres for the last five years with no noticeable issues other than a bit of extra road noise.

Same point that @welshskier made I think
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Quote:

Living in the UK, it doesn't make sense to run winter tyres all year round,


Maybe in the part of the UK that you live it doesn't but 372 miles or more north it does Shocked
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@geeo, Glasgow or thereabouts? Looking at average monthly temperatures then maybe you are better with winter tyres SOME days between November and March but in most of England, at least, you don't need them. I've been driving 48 years and winter tyres have only been talked about in the last few of those. But then I didn't have a car with ABS until 2003 and had driven to the Alps four times in consecutive February's in a RWD non-abs car on summer tyres (carrying chains). That's how it was then and we survived. Sure, winter tyres will grip and stop better in slippery and cold conditions but it's equally important to drive sensibly and according to the conditions.
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We are just en route back from 2 weeks in the Swiss Alps in our RWD BMW M235i - 330BHP to just the rear wheels. Pirelli Sottozero S3 winter tyres and traction control set to 'snow'. Challenging steep drive out of our apt block and very slushy/snowy roads in the village, plus a late evening drive down the mountain to pick up member of group from station. No problems at all, and mixed emotions that I didn't need to resort to my expensive new snowchains (glad they weren't needed but would like to get some experience in using them).
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@billb - I agree with the point about driving to suit the conditions when in the Alps. But summer tyres and chains would have been useless for us these last two weeks. Summers and chains are OK if you quickly transition from tarmac to continuous, packed snow, but in the alternating tarmac-snow-tarmac-slush-tarmac-etc we were in, they would have been a real problem. You can't keep fitting/removing your chains every 200m - everyone else where we were were on winters and coping fine. Driving over the Jura Mts this afternoon there were odd stretches where the snow had collapsed onto the road - I wouldn't have wanted to hit them in summers, and no way could you easily stop to fit chains.

Take a look at this guide: for BMW 2 Series but most of it is generic:

http://www.babybmw.net/howtos/Winter%20Wheels%20Guide%202%20Series%20v2.pdf

Summer tyres are far worse in winter than winter tyres are in summer. Our 2nd car carries winters all year 'round and we live in Brighton. I'd agree that for a performance car, summers are better in summer. We only heard about winter tyres recently in the U.K. but that doesn't change their value in U.K. Winters where their reduced tendency to aquaplane alone is justification for switching. I used to work for Pirelli and I find the 'I've driven to the Alps for the last 50 years on summers and never had a problem' too tedious to counter every time someone posts, which is partly why I wrote the above Guide.
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@LaForet, your guide is very good! I realise, of course, that winter tyres are much better for a variety of conditions and served you well on your trip. I've been fortunate that, when winter tyres weren't readily available in the UK then, in the Alps I either had dry or damp tarmac and well cleared roads above 0C or could use chains.

But I was mainly referring to to UK use where, especially in the south, many don't generally need winter tyres. Maybe, in the future, a better all-season rubber compound will evolve to satisfy those who want the reassurance of winter tyres performance.
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Yes, you're right - for the OP it's fairly clear but for most English drivers, I'd definitely agree that it's a difficult decision: you can't get away from the problem that even if you're extending the lifetime of your summer tyres, you still end up with a big bill for a set of winters, especially if it means new wheels as well. And again, you're always at the mercy of everyone else on the road who probably won't have winters on anyway.
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Quote:

@geeo, Glasgow or thereabouts? Looking at average monthly temperatures then maybe you are better with winter tyres SOME days between November and March but in most of England, at least, you don't need them


Edinburgh but close enough, how many times have you been stuck behind someone in an ASDA carpark on their winter tyres in the summer? less that iv'e been stuck behind someone who cant manage the access road at Glencoe or the Cairnwell hill at Glenshee or the road up to Ben Lawers i bet, all of which are still in the UK.

Better SOME days.. as in you ain't getting to your destination without them or without 5 strangers having to push you up a hill, yes much better SOME days
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Decision to stick with current car was reinforced upon arrival at Munich airport on Saturday where all the by taxis waiting (>50) were merc e-class saloon and estates fitted with winters.

I am currently in Serfaus and I am checking out cars being used and it's a fairly even mix of German RWD, Audi quatros and light 4x4. I can't help but look at tyres (I need a life!!) and Michelin Cross Climates seem to be very popular as they have a very distinctive and recogniseable tread patten.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
For the past two years I have run winters all year round on the C4 GP - heavy car for the tyre size. No issues at all. In fact, probably better grip from the winters than the summer tyres - there is a junction at the top of the road where a little wheelspin is normal in the summer tyres, but never in the winters. Probably wear a bit quicker, but no real evidence for that. I keep an eye on ebay and replace when a cheap set come available at the right time.

The C4 on summer tyres is bloody awful on anything but tarmac - ice, snow, wet grass etc. I couldn't even get it up the dropped kerb onto my driveway in the ice when I first got it. Winter tyres make it driveable, certainly no issues on hard pack snow, and much more secure in the wet. Ice can get a bit interesting, and it did get stuck in the parking spaces in front of the flat in VT - bottom of a steep slippery hill though, so to be expected.
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I have been driving to, from, and in the Alps for the last nine winters. I religiously put winter tyres on in the winter. I honestly cannot tell the difference. I have to believe the reports that the winter tyres are making me safer. The first winter I was in a Volvo S40 FWD. Since then in a Honda CRV with automatic selection of 4WD when required (allegedly.) I carry chains. I have put them on once on the drive in England, and once in Champex. I very quickly took them off again. I have slid on ice twice - once in Epsom, and once in the outskirts of Geneva, on both occasions stopping against the kerb without damage. I have driven up and down the mountain many times on snow without chains, without mishap. On one occasion in a blizzard, in the Volvo, I gave up at Martigny and stayed overnight at a hotel rather than go up the mountain. I doubt if the 4WD has ever been called upon. I drive gingerly up and down the mountain. But I feel more secure than I did in Epsom. The roads in Switzerland seem to have much better grip in winter conditions than they do when we have an occasional wintry blast in England. You are less likely to come across concealed ice beneath the snow. They are cleaned very promptly after each snowfall. The FWD Volvo felt slightly more secure to me than the CRV - probably because of its lower CG. Overall, I think the benefits of winter tyres, and 4WD are small and difficult to detect, in comparison with the effects of good road maintenance and careful driving.

(For seven of those nine winters I have spent the whole season in the mountains.)
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Extract from EVO 2015 ( Jan 2016) tyre test for snow tyres, best three listed below in order.

Continental ContiWinterContact TS 850 - £91.67
The Continental ContiWinterContact TS 850 finished in the top three in every objective test and backed this up with the second highest subjective rating of the winters. So while it might not deliver the Michelin’s steering feel, it delivers everything else and is responsive, stable and predictable in all scenarios. ‘Winter tyres come no more capable or reassuring than this’.

Michelin Alpin A4 - £95.50

Second overall was the Michelin Alpin A4. A strong, consistent set of objective scores show that the Michelin has no real weaknesses – it performs well whether the road is dry, wet or covered in snow – and what secures it second place is that subjectively it’s easily the best winter tyre here. Of its wet handling we said: ‘Excellent steering feel – grainy grip – and very stable. You could recommend this tyre to anyone.’

>Read - VW Golf GTI on winter tyres report 7

Dunlop SP Winter Sport - £83.54

The Dunlop finished a whisker off the top step in the snow tests, and although essentially as fast in the snow, the Dunlop didn’t share the Conti’s composure. And it delivered well in the wet, too, both objectively and subjectively. Its chances of winning outright were weakened in part by a less than sparkling on-road performance, which revealed a noisy ride and light, imprecise steering.

Must get a life.
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"cannot tell the difference." - Yes, well, that's the point with winters, they bring you back to being able to drive in much the same way as you do in summer, provided you make obvious allowances for lower temperatures, heavy rain and snow. There are any number of videos demonstrating their superiority on a cold and wet UK test track (no snow) in terms of both stopping distance and maneuverability. Let alone in slush and snow. Here are a couple:


http://youtube.com/v/_Bz45RuSN24

http://youtube.com/v/mfuE00qdhLA
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Over the past 10 years we have run a mixture of summer, winter and all season (Goodyear Vectors) on a Ford S-max and transit van and all were left on untill worn out ie not changed in spring/ autumn.
The winters we used wore out very much quicker than summers, on the van the summer tyres lasted over 3x
longer! But the summer tyres had dreadful grip on wet roads.
The all season tyres lasted almost as long as the summers and vastly improved grip in the wet snd snow.
For me, the all season tyres are a no brainer to avoid the faff of changing tyres twice a year, even if it involves chucking tyres that still have some wear left in them , it's cost effective.
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@planeurge,
Quote:

the benefits of winter tyres, and 4WD are small and difficult to detect


I live in Switzerland and drive to the alps (rarely above 1,600m) most weekends. I cannot agree re winter tyres - although 4WD perhaps I can - the little yellow light telling me the car has engaged it comes on very infrequently and I have felt the need to engage it myself rarely.

I can even suggest that there's a massive difference in performance between different premium brands of winter tyres.

I don't think there's any thing structurally different about Swiss roads, except that they are in general better maintained than many parts of Europe incl. the UK, but they are certainly well snow cleared.
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billb wrote:
Living in the UK, it doesn't make sense to run winter tyres all year round, as some have suggested, because they are less effective than summer tyres as the temperature rises. Most weeks of the years are better driven on summer tyres here.
Not always.....I drive a front wheel drive Peugeot Boxer van for my business, it is heavily laden. When pulling out of tee junctions or into roundabouts on wet roads the wheels spin up very easily. I run it with winter tyres all year as the soft compound is noticeably gripper on damp roads. The downside is it means changing them more regularly + a few quid more per tyre.
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@billb, you say that you have been driving for 48 years and that winter tires of only been talked about recently. However you are ignoring one important fact. The rubber compound on the tires you were using 20, 30, 40 years ago is completely different to the compound used in summer tires today and much more similar to what you find in winter tires .
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@LaForet, Yes, as I say, I put my winter tyres on religiously each November and take them off at the end of March. But the benefits are never really apparent. I believe what your videos show - that in an emergency they give great benefit.

I drove to the Alps on Thursday. I overinflated the tyres at Calais to 2.3 bar all round, cold. That seemed to produce a much smoother and quieter drive, and the mpg improved slightly, as well. But on the windy mountain roads, the handling was skittish. This morning I let them down again, and the car drives much better now on the windy roads.
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I spend almost 6 months of the year in the alps somewhere and have the best winter tyres I could buy. I don't change them in the summer and I have never had any kind if problem with that. My milage is probably less than average at probably no more than 8k a year but I have just replaced a set of winter tyres after 7 years.
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I've been going to Chatel for over 25 years, and very rarely have we had any problems on the roads in normal cars with normal tyres. Agree winter ones can help, but snow on the roads is very rarely an issue. We normally carry chains but haven't had them on in the last five years at least, probably nearer 10.

Having driven down there from the UK quite a lot, we tend not to drive via CH, preferring to go Calais - Reims - Troyes - Dijon - Bourg en Bresse - Nantua Annemasse and then drive along Lake Geneva and up the Valley from Thonon through Abondance, seems to generally work out the quickest although the bit along Lake Geneva can be a pain. When it has snowed we've found the Pas de Morgins can be the sticky point for the short bit between Morgins and Chatel, although generally it gets cleared pretty quickly. The Abondance Road doesn't get as high and seems to stay clear more easily.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@chrisjackson184, this is good to know especially about your choice of route. Do you overnight between Calais and Chartel? If not how long is the drive with usual family stops?

In regards to car I am most likely keeping the current car and will fit winters (local tyre place will store my summers). Only concern is the last 800 meters which is up a steepish hill - but will check what the neighbours are driving when I am there at the end of March.
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Quote:

Back to my original post have convinced me that my estate will do the job. Think I am leaning towards getting full winters for winter and having the local tyre shop (who is a Verderstein dealer) store my 'off' tyres for £40.



That's what I would do. I'd keep the car but I wouldn't be happy on all seasons tyres, I'd go for two sets and store.
We did replace our 535D Touring with a 4wd estate but we wanted to change it anyway (10 years old).
So far (2 seasons) we haven't been in conditions that the 4wd was anything more than nice to have. Tyres are MUCH more important.
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Ozboy wrote:
@chrisjackson184, this is good to know especially about your choice of route. Do you overnight between Calais and Chartel? If not how long is the drive with usual family stops?

In regards to car I am most likely keeping the current car and will fit winters (local tyre place will store my summers). Only concern is the last 800 meters which is up a steepish hill - but will check what the neighbours are driving when I am there at the end of March.


To be honest, its quite a few years since I've driven it, with Easyjet we tend to fly into Geneva now. We tended to stop in Reims or Troyes for an overnight, as were driving from NE England, but it depends on where you're starting from.

Worst case if you can't get the car to the accommodation, there is the multi-store by the Church, pain with luggage but can get you out of trouble if need be.
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@chrisjackson184, I think I will be OK to get up the hill up Route La Boude - Its the road goes up to the left of the Super Chatel lift and it leads to Petit Chatel if you go straight at first switch back - we are are two more switchbacks up the hill. I reckon the grade is around 7%. A video was posted earler in this thread of a FWD car successfully going up a much steeper indoor ski slope with full winters.
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@Ozboy, I frequently drive Calais to Champex, which is about the same distance as your route. I once drove via Bourg-en-Bresse and Geneva when it was snowing heavily. The idea was that there would be less chance of an accident on the motorway. I am pretty sure now that was the wrong decision. There was just as much chance of an accident, and less chance of just pulling off the road and finding shelter. The A40 will add at least an hour to your journey. Also the road on the French side of the lake is agonisingly slow.

I would go via A26, A31 and A39 and enter Switzerland at Jougne. You have a choice crossing the Jura. You either take the A36 to Besancon, then the N57, which is what I do in bad weather. Or - in good weather - you can exit the French motorway system at Poligny on the A391, then make your way across country to Jougne. You then take the Swiss A9 and exit at Junction 18 to Pas de Morgins. To or from Champex it takes me 8 h 30 m, stopping only to refuel, on either route. Your timing should be the same to Chatel, depending on how long you like to stop for.

Apart from that I agree with what chrisjackson184 says.

As for stopping en route, we used not to. It was 13 ish hours door to door, from Croydon. But recently we have been crossing late in the evening and staying overnight in the Ibis Budget at Calais, then starting early the next morning to maximise the daylight available for driving. There are various interesting places to stop in France, but unless you particularly want to visit one of them, it just turns the journey into two long days of driving instead of one. Northbound, we do not stop - again, unless we want to do some touring.
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I am struggling to find chains that are reasonably priced to fit my tyres with limited clearace - the rear tyres are 275/40/R19.

I will have full winter tyres and therefore unlikely to need chains unless conditions are really bad in or when mandated by police. Therefore I am findng it difficult to justify > £250 for RUD, Thule and the like whcih are marketed as easy to fit etc but seem confusing as needing special wheel nuts and tools.

Any suggestions - what do snowHead do in similar circunstances?

Could 'Snow Socks' be a reasonable option as emergency chains and are they recognised by french / swiss police?
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Some brands are, I used them in snowmaggedon and the police were happy with them. You need the ones with a document of conformity, I will see if I have the receipt.
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@Ozboy You don't need special nuts for Thule's. You do need to take the plastic covers off one nut though. K-Summit's are the best snow chains I've ever had and they've done three different cars so far.
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This may be helpful, no problems with the French Police with these on.

http://www.autosockdirect.co.uk/products/index3.php?type=Car&wheel_id=476&x=18&y=5
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Norrin Radd wrote:
Some brands are, I used them in snowmaggedon and the police were happy with them. You need the ones with a document of conformity, I will see if I have the receipt.


Knew I wouldn't have to wait forever for a Snowmaggedon tale. 4wd (skoda Octy Scout) with winter tyres meant I could ski that day as I was able to take the alternative route up the other side of the Belleville Valley to VT through 8" of snow. Meanwhile the ill prepared and those behind them spent the night in the car.

It may be argued that winter tyres are useless in South Englandshire and I have sympathy with this argument as the lack of herd immunity means all snowy roads are blocked solid anyway with abandoned german cars fitted with urban gangsta tyres. Personally, I prefer to not join in as the cause of the problem.
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@mcspreader, weirdly I went up that road as well. Met a Frenchman with no chains blocking the road.
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@billb, I have often wondered though that if the UK winter of 2011/12 been as snowy as the previous two would the tyre industry lobby have succeeded with a 'winter tyre law' here?

I remember hearing and reading about it at the time and I'm sure there was discussion on here. By Spring 2011 IIRC everybody with an interest, vested or otherwise, wanted it - Roads people, Police, Insurers. The only thing that prevented it then was the political weakness of the coalition who feared the 'cost' backlash. The mildness of the following winter and pretty much since got them off the hook.
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@Ozboy, how about something like these.
http://www.rud.com/en/products/tyre-chains/snow-chains-shoe-chains/brands/passenger-cars-suvs-vans/detail/rudmatic-hybrid.html

They seem to fit the space between the expensive Thule and cheaper/hard-to-mount ones. I have a pair, but have not yet used them but they seem pretty good.
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@SnowPenguin, thanks - looks innovative. Do they simply stretch over the tyre and is there sufficient tension to keep them in place?
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Yes they stretch over the tyre similar to a snowsock. There is a fair bit of tension in the cable that goes around the back of the wheel. They are also adjustable in that you can add/remove a couple of spacers to change the circumference some (a guide to tell you how to set them to your exact tyre size is include).
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@robboj, I'm reluctant to keep saying it, as many here are almost evangelical about winter tyres, but, at least in the south, I don't think you need them. How many buses, coaches and lorries do you think fit them in winter here? Next to none I'd guess, mainly on cost grounds. My brother's family based coach travel business in Lancashire doesn't run winters. I don't know anyone who runs them actually.

I spent a week in Norway in January where, surprisingly, winter tyres are not compulsory. But you'd be foolish not to use them there on regularly snow covered roads. I can see why the French haven't insisted on them yet as most of the country will be above 0C and often above 7C. But, obviously, I see the point of them if you regularly drive in the Alps. I'll put another question: if you're hurtling down a French autoroute for a few hundred kilometres at 120kph and the ambient temperature is over 7C what tyres would you rather be running?
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@billb, Yep, but how much motoring legislation that is used is based on facts. I'm just commenting on what was considered after those two winters and the power of the lobbyists. If, for example, winter 17/18 and 18/19 turned out the same then it would be back on the table. In fact it probably won't even need two. Your brother could bet his house that PSV licence holders will be first.
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billb wrote:
... I'm reluctant to keep saying it, as many here are almost evangelical about winter tyres, but, at least in the south, I don't think you need them. ...

Indeed, it's absurd, but there it is.

In the real world people can use whatever legal tyres they like. I've driven that track in the video and as anyone else who has will know, the vehicle's stability control is the major issue. And I can get many more spins than they do out of that kick plate.
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