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ChrisJohn

Tyres Again - Winter Tyres Or Not . . . That Is The Question

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Before I spend oodles of money on winter tyres for my new RAV 4 I have been trying to find out a bit more about the tyres that were fitted at the factory. They are Bridgestone Dueler H/T 687 235/55 R18. The Bridgestone web sites are, frankly, pretty unhelpful compared to those of some other tyre manufacturers. The Bridgestone tyre selector does not even seem to acknowledge that there have been any RAV 4's models after 2006.

This tyre carries the "M+S" symbol which I understand stands for "Mud + Snow" implying some degree of winter performance as even here in Scotland where I happen to live, snow tends to fall in winter (although snow in June is not unknown!).

The Bridgestone EU and UK websites shows this is a summer tyre. The exact same specification tyre is fitted as OEM equipment to many US cars where the Bridgestone US website shows it as an "All Season" tyre:

http://www.bridgestonetire.com/tire/dueler-ht-687/235-55r18

I am confused and would love some sensible advice as to what I can expect from the tyres I already have on the car before I consider spending lots of money on a set of true winter tyres.

Can anyone enlighten me please?

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A true winter tyre (with the mountain snowflake symbol) is not the same as a general M+S tyre other than it may show both symbols.

A proper winter tyre will;

Give better braking and handling in cold weather (under about 7C) because it has a different compound. Normal M+S tyres go hard under these temps and will not conform to the road as designed.

They also have better wet performance due to increased sipes that pump water out from the interface.

They also have a special tread pattern for dealing with snow. They are designed to eject the snow from the tread and maintain directional stability. You can usually tell by an arrow shaped tread or asymetric pattern. They make a FWD car extremely good in the snow and a RAV becomes an astonishing vehicle that only very deep grounding drifts will stop.

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It's amazing reading the reviews how people's experience on the exact same tyre vary so much in ALL aspects, from tyre life (25000 and worn out to 60k and still going strong!), performance on ice, noise, etc, etc.

Should you buy "true" winter tyres if what you have is already an 'all-season tyre'? Well, one possible way to look at this from a financial aspect is that you will be spreading the wear across 8 tyres rather then 4, so while the outlay is initially greater, you won't need to get any more tyres for twice as long (especially as winter tyre use up here is a 6 month thing). Plus you have instant access to a spare wheel (if you got some winter wheels rather then swapping tyres twice a year).

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Anchorman and Hoovie have given two very good answers and I would just like to say something entirely from my perspective.

This will be the fifth winter that I will use winter tyres but the first that I have an AWD car. My previous car being a manual T180 Avensis Estate.

I first fitted winter tyres because I anticipated driving to, from and in the Alps. I drove in some poor conditions that winter from blizzard, ice and to monsoon with hardly a missed heartbeat, from me or the car. :jockey: The following winters I have used my investment as well and this cemented my faith in winter tyres. Don't get me wrong, they do not defy the laws of physics and you have to treat the conditions with due respect but they seem to give more feel of your limits and they don't snap into loss of grip suddenly without warning.

I now have a Rav :clap:with different wheel and tyre size, therefore I have to invest again. Decision time.... :g: but not really because I am going with winter tyres again despite have the Bridgestone Duellers as OEM. I consider the Bridgestones to be All Season tyres at best, which means they will have a slightly more open tread pattern but basically Summer rubber. Why do I want winter tyres with an AWD? Well, AWD ain't going to help you much if you want to stop going downhill on ice, but proper winter tyres will, same goes for any road temperatures less than -7degC (remember roads get hotter and COLDER than air temps, that is why "black" ice forms below 3degC.) The rubber in winter tyres is softer and has silicone in it which allows the tread pattern to move as designed at low temps. I assume this gives the compliant, easier to drive characteristics I have experienced in cold temperatures.

The initial outlay is obviously a downside but what does worry me is all the others slipping and sliding on their Summer tyres. :g: I may stop using my better grip, but will the guy behind? I am therefore careful to slow down gradually, if I have the space (and I try to make sure I do), keeping an eye on the gap behind. You still may get stuck, usually because others have blocked the road and caused a bottleneck but you will have a better chance once it clears. :driving: :D

Anyway, enough of my prattle, hope my comments are useful to you.....and Happy Driving!

Andy

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Many thanks for all the comments, very helpful. I do find it interesting that Bridgestone states that the tyre in question is "All Season" in the USA and "Summer" in the UK. Probably just a question of marketing people blurring the facts! I had considered going for an All Season tyre but I accept that this is still a bit of a compromise.

Reading recent reviews such as : http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2013-Auto-Bild-All-Season-Tyre-Test.htm

the true All Season tyres does not really exist as yet.

I'll have to raid the piggy bank and put on a set of true winter tyres. This will be the year we don't get cold weather!

I accept that however good the tyres are on your car you are still at the mercy of those around you but hopefully the better manoeuvrability of having good winter tyres yourself increases your options in a difficult situation.

I have a spare set of wheels with winter tyres from my wife's 2WD drive car and the difference it makes is almost unbelievable so I am fully converted to the principle.

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We've had vast amounts of snow for the last four consecutive winters, however, even if we escape the white stuff, IMHO it's still worth fitting winter tyres for the improved performance in the cold temperatures which are more or less guaranteed.

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Some insurers offer discounts for fitting winter tyres.

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Some insurers offer discounts for fitting winter tyres.

The first winter I fitted winter tyres, the insurance company charged me extra for fitting non-standard tyres! Shan't name, but he was a famous Prime Minister and smoked Havanahs'. How things change after a drop of snow. :no:

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Its obviously worth bearing in mind the most important aspect of winter conditions is a safe driving style.

The Ravs4wd is brilliant,but you still have to use the brakes.

Once a 2.2k Kg. Rav lump is on the slide its difficult to control,regardless of what boots your wearing.

That's not to say tyres dont play their part.

Its just possible winter tyres could lull you into a false sense of security imo.

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Never go with Fidel Castro insurance again ;-)

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Its obviously worth bearing in mind the most important aspect of winter conditions is a safe driving style.The Ravs4wd is brilliant,but you still have to use the brakes.Once a 2.2k Kg. Rav lump is on the slide its difficult to control,regardless of what boots your wearing.That's not to say tyres dont play their part.Its just possible winter tyres could lull you into a false sense of security imo.

I agree with your first two statements but beg to differ with the last one. Winter tyres will give you more grip but also more progressive breakaway as they lose their adhesion. This applies to traction,steering and braking. This will mean you will have better feel for the conditions at low temperatures which can only help you drive more sensibly.

Andy

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Anyone who advises against winter tyres is plain barmy........

Question is is do You/I or We need them...

If your journeys are long and important then definitely a very good bet indeed.. Same applies if you live off the beaten track...

We must however consider the expense.. Safety in my eyes comes way way in front of expense..

But if your journeys are short.. Not dreadfully important and most of all if you can slow down and take proper care then to be honest do you really need them ? Lets face it a well and sensibly driven Rav4 4 with decent all terrain tyres which most of us have will do very nicely indeed thank you....

Drivers of other cars think again......

Smug from Smugshire...............

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I started this thread so it's only fair that I should post that I have now answered my own question. On Monday, the 4 Continental ContiCrossContact Winter tyres I have ordered are being fitted. Yes, I don't do large mileages these days and I could slow down but to me it is more about confidence when inevitably I will at some time find myself on a slushy motorway. I live near the M90 and do use it quite a lot.

I would never forgive myself if I found myself in a bad situation because I had not emptied the piggy bank to buy winter tyres. Let's face it, if you can afford to buy a new RAV then your ought to be able to afford winter tyres. Spread the cost over the lifetime of a set of summer and winter then the only real cost becomes that of swapping them over each season.

Incidentally I got a good price from a small, local independent garage. Whilst there are lots of options on winter tyres, when you actually want to buy a specific size and get them delivered the choices seem to evaporate quite quickly.

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But not everyone had a new car..... Plus the outlay is hard to find for some ........

In an ideal world we would all be rolling in coin and would summer in the Bahamas ..... ..

Might get a day trip to Weston in next year...

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I came across this . It's a peculiar test of 2wd and 4wd on winter and summer tyres respectively. (Video half way down the page)

http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/motoring/just-how-good-are-winter-tyres

Very interesting little bit of video, and it does cover the very common question of do you need to buy a 4WD/AWD car for winter use or could you simply get by with some Winter tyres instead, which is clearly the more cost-efficient solution, but is it adequate?

Going by the test, their conclusion is very clearly to get winter tyres foremost.

An aside, and maybe I am just getting overly cautious in my old age, but I don't know why the two cars were driving so close together in convoy, especially on roads like that?

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Not only close behind but the leading car was on winter tyres and could stop in a shorter distance than the following car!

David

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For me (personally) it was an obvious choice to get a 2nd set of rims & put summer graded tyres on them, whilst keeping the original Toyota wheels for the winter tyres. I know that not everyone can afford this, but it's a worthwhile investment if you can. The difference becomes noticeable once the temps drop below 7 deg C and obvious the minute you hit any snow.

The last 2 winters have been relatively easy up here (with a minimum of snow), but the previous 2 seasons were so bad I literally would not have got to work or across country w/out the grippier tyres. With several inches of hard-packed ice in my street and a fresh dusting of snow on top - something others really struggled with - the Hankook i'cepts I was using at the time coped admirably.

Now I'm using Klebber Quadraxxers and would rate them highly. The extra feel & confidence they give you does not lull you into a false sense of security, they just do a much better job because that's what they're designed to do in those conditions.

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