[200q20v] Snow tires summary article

George Fairbanks george.fairbanks at colorado.edu
Mon Nov 27 09:29:04 EST 2000

I've consolidated the comments from a number of list members into the following
article on snow tires.  It's a start towards a reference document on the
subject but could still use help (studded tires for example).

It's available on Groupedia where it can be updated by any of us once you join
the "Audi 200 web group".  The site has recently gotten a facelift and new
features.   http://www.groupedia.com/groupedia/category/1239


Why snow tires

If you live in an area where there's snow, you've discovered that your high performance
summer tires frequently disagree with that slippery white stuff on the ground. Even so-called
"all season" tires are engineering compromises designed to give OK traction in many
conditions. Neither will perform as well as a special-purpose snow tire.

Sipes, small slits in the blocks of rubber in the tread, and special rubber compounds are the
primary differences between summer and winter tires. The sipes allow the tire to grip better to
slippery surfaces, while solid blocks are better suited for dry summer driving. Sipes are one
reason that snow tires are louder than summer or all-seson tires. 

Why not snow tires

The drawbacks to using snow tires are: 

     Cost: You have to buy another set of tires and possibly rims 
     Noise: Snow tires will be noisier (studs make them very noisy) 
     Dry Performance: Snow tires will not perform as well in dry conditions 
     Hassle: Unless your servants remember to change them for you, you'll have to swap the
     tires in the spring and fall 

No, it's not twice as expensive

Simple math would put the price of using snow tires at twice the price of all-season tires. But
you can't drive on both sets of tires at the same time, so we're really talking about time division
multiplexing of your rubber resources. That is, your summer tires will last longer (in time, not
miles) since you're not using them in winter. Ditto for the winter tires. Although the winter tires
are made of softer rubber, you're frequently on snow and most people find they last many

The decision then comes down to whether or not you want to invest your money in rubber
investments instead of the NASDAQ. If you're po', this may be a bad idea unless you're po'
because you're a ski bum. It's also a bad idea if you don't have a garage, or a good friend with
a garage, to store the other set of tires. 

Steel Rims

You can have a tire shop change over your winter and summer tires in the spring and fall using
a single set of rims and remounting the tires on those same rims, but it's very convenient to
have two sets of rims and tires then just swap the whole package yourself.

     The Tahr Rack has (had) for-UFO OEM 15x7 steel wheels for $62 each - they had
     these listed in last winter's ad as a package for 200q20v's, would also fit V8s with
     same brakes of course. -- Henry Harper

     Back in '93 when I bought my car, I called the Tire rack for some rims. They said that
     the 200q 20v rims were the same as what Mercedes was using with one small
     exception. Basically the chamfer at the transition between vertical and horizontal
     sections of the hub didn't match. They sent me 4 15 x 6 Oz alloy rims for $70 each
     that were "take offs" from a Mercedes and included 4 thin aluminum rings that filled
     the small gap between the hub and the rim. The 6" width has worked great for
     snows... I have called the tire rack within this year to replace one of the rims, which is
     now bent, but the people I have talked to say they have nothing for 200q20v drivers.
     Maybe I just got the right sales person the first time - certainly the car was more well
     known then. -- Mark Mueller

Tire Width

List members are happy with running stock widths (205) and slightly narrower widths (195).

     I am running snow tires in stock size on stock BBS rims. I find it part of the
     compromise to improve dry handling and not loose snow/ice grip. I have no
     complaints about that width when in untracked snow, but then untracked snow is a
     small % of my overall use. -- Bryan Kamerer

     I'm running 205/65/15 here in Montana. I went with BFG winter slalom with studs.
     About $75/ea at Costco installed. My driveway gains 300 feet in elevation over about a
     1/2 mile and will be snow covered from now until late March/April most likely. -- Mike

     I'm very happy with 195/65-15 Hakka-1's on 15x7 Audi OEM steel wheels (fit over
     UFOs, got from Tire Rack) - starting fourth season and all the studs are still in, tread
     doesn't look all that worn. There are of course newer designs out now, but the Hakkas
     were so much better than the Blizzaks I had on my GTI that I got another set for that
     car as soon as practical. -- Henry Harper

     I'm using same size 195/65-15 and tire (studded Hakka-1) as Henry, but on alloy
     ("turbo") 15x7 wheels. Getting ready for 3rd season on these, and both tread & studs
     look like they could last several more. By the end of winter it's been a blessed relief to
     get away from the stud noise. Not that noise is so extreme, but there's just not been
     enough icy roads around here (western NY) to justify studding. -- Phil Rose

     ... put on 195/65 x 15 (H rated) Nokian NRW's. I wanted maximum snow
     cutting/carving ability that this narrow tire will give. Judging from what Keith Anderson
     has sold this season (about a semi load), this tire it is very popular locally
     (Minneapolis). Touted as an excellent all around tire, aggressive tread, 50K warranty,
     and very quiet (confirmed). They claim that this is the only 4 season tire that exceeds
     the new government snow condition regulation that carries the Severe Service
     Emblem. -- Steve Crosbie

Comments on specific tires

Hakkas (Hakkapeliitta)

     ...get Hakkas! AWESOME TAHRS! Get studs if you get a lot of ice/hardpack. -- Glen

     [Hakkas] are pretty decent on dry roads (not mushy like Blizzaks) and are fantastic in
     the snow. -- Rob Winchell

Michelin Arctic Alpin

     I used the Michelin Arctic Alpin last winter here in Boulder, Colorado. I was very
     happy using them well into the spring on dry roads since they were reasonably quiet
     (only one person asked about the noise) and had good handling on dry pavement.
     The improvement on snowy and icy roads was fantastic but I cannot compare it to
     other brands. I can say they were much quieter and better handling in the dry than in
     other people's cars I've been in. Last year Discount Tire had them for about $70 each,
     but I see that they're up to $90 this year (2000). I think they were also top rated by
     Consumer Reports. -- George Fairbanks

Bridgestone Blizzak

     IMHO, Blizzaks and Quattro are an unbeatable winter combo. --Greg Johnson

Yokohama Guardex 600

     Last fall I went to the main list and canvassed all opinions. I was talked into Yoko
     Guardex 600's. I live in NYC, drive 300 highway miles each way to northern VT for
     skiing every two weeks. Thus I needed good dry handling, long wear, but tenacious
     snow performance when needed.

     ... have loved every minute of my Yokos. I have them on the factory BBS in
     215/60-15, same as stock. 

     The Yokos are of course a little soft in the sidewall, but at temps under 50 to 55 F they
     are fine. You really start to feel them soften up above 60F, but then you put on summer
     wheels before you get to that temp consistently, anyway. After maybe 8,000 miles last
     winter on them they look hardly worn at all. They were cheaper than most other
     options, also. Ice and snow performance was all I could have asked for - I could do
     up to about 40mph in 6 inches of untracked snow with total control and excellent
     braking. -- Bryan Kamerer

Comparison of P210, Guardex, Blizzak

     I've had Pirelli P210s and Yokohama Guardex 600s, and driven a friend's car with
     Bridgestone Blizzaks, all in Cleveland winters. My rankings are:

         Dry handling: P210, Guardex, Blizzak 
         Wet handling: P210, Guardex, Blizzak 
         Snow: Guardex, Blizzak, P210 
         Ice: Guardex, Blizzak, P210 
         Wear/Tread Life: P210, Guardex, Blizzak 

     The P210 is the best handling tire; the Blizzak the worst by far, IMO. The P210 and
     the Guardex both wear quite well; the Blizzak wears very rapidly (at least the "winter"
     layer of the tread). The Guardex is amazing (for a non-studded tire) on ice. -- Bob
     Neidinger 84 5kst

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