How to buy new tires for old AWD wagon in snowy climate?
June 5, 2014 10:32 AM Subscribe
We recently bought an old 1995 Subaru Legacy L wagon (2.2L, AWD) and find ourselves needing to replace all of the tires. Complications: snow, AWD, no storage for winter tires, and we need to be able to use the car on poorly maintained logging roads for field work in the summer.
posted by dialetheia to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's more detail on what we're looking for:
- We currently have 16" wheels with 205/55R16 tires. We aren't buying new wheels but we aren't married to the other dimensions, if something else would be cheaper or better.
- We live in Missoula, MT so we get a fair amount of snow. We made it through the last (worse than usual) winter driving a 2006 Civic Hybrid with mud & snow tires in FWD, but we weren't able to leave main streets or get out of town to go hiking or anything like that.
- We would be using the vehicle as a daily commuter year-round, and for road trips and field work during the summer.
- We live in a small apartment without a garage and don't have family nearby, so we'd like to avoid doing the separate snow tire thing if at all possible. Separate snow tires also seem prohibitively expensive, especially since tire life is limited not just by mileage but also by time - we'd get half the wear on them but the rubber keeps aging even in storage.
- Our vehicle has AWD, so we're locked into replacing all four tires (they all need replacing anyway)
- I'm an ecologist and I need to be able to take the wagon out on logging roads and the like during the summer - although I won't be doing this in snowy conditions!
- We don't have a ton of money but we know it's smarter to buy a quality tire because we know that we'd just end up spending more in the long run buying poor tires that will wear out faster.
- The car is obviously pretty old but in decent shape, and while we're hoping to get another 50-100k miles on it before it totally craps out (currently at 180k miles), I would hate to drop a ton of money on tires just to have the car die on us. We'd likely end up replacing the vehicle and could hopefully either sell the new tires or put the new tires on whatever used beater we buy to replace the Subaru when it passes away.
We've been endlessly pondering the tire question and going around in circles, even with the help of Tire Rack. We've keep coming back to a few specific models:
- Michelin Premiers - I like the idea of the sunflower oil rubber mixture that will supposedly keep the tires supple at low temperatures, but these just came out recently and nobody has driven them on snow yet as far as I can find. We could get a great deal on these at Costco right now.
- Continental ExtremeContacts - Consumer Reports & Tire Rack agree that this line is really high quality and good on snow. If we bought at Tire Rack, these would be about the same price as the Premiers once we paid for shipping & installation, plus the extra hassle to get them installed.
- Michelin Primacy MXV4s - these would be a bit cheaper than the Premiers but without any of the cold-weather/wear characteristics that make the Premiers sound like such a good fit. Also reviews of this tire in snow are very mixed (although that seems to be true about every tire).
The nice/name-brand tires all seem to run around $600 total once all the other fees are taken into account. My main questions, besides just asking for any advice you might have, are these:
- Could we get away with anything cheaper but still have decent handling in the snow & cold? Or should we just spring for the high-quality tires and plan on transferring them to the next vehicle if our wagon suddenly dies on us?
- Is it stupid to spend that much for tires for a really old car?
- Are we totally wrong to dismiss snow tires, even though they'd probably end up being much more expensive for us once storage and biannual remounting was taken into account and we made it through last winter on 2WD M+S tires? Winters in western MT are not really that terrible, and we wouldn't be trying to do anything fancy in the winter, just maybe get a couple miles out of town for a hike and not have to worry as much driving on snow.