Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Here comes the snow again.

Understand that my adult life has been spent in Atlanta and Knoxville up until very recently. Snow is something that happens in any quantity only every other year or so, and disappears a day or two after it's fallen. Maybe once every ten years you'd see a snowfall significant enough to shut things down for two or three days, but it was a rare thing.

My first two winters in Indy didn't disabuse me of these notions I had of snow being an intermittent thing. Now comes the winter of '09-'10...

The average daily high for February in the Circle City is in the low 40s; average snowfall for the month is ~6". This year, we haven't seen the far side of freezing for more than fifteen minutes or so this month, and the airport saw enough snow last night to do us for an average February, just in one night. It's been nigh on two weeks since I last saw the lawn.

And they're calling for more tonight. And more this weekend.

This morning, I used a snow shovel to free the Zed Drei from the garage where it's been cocooned since the Friday before last so I could make it to the bank. Slithering the couple blocks to the nearest cleared road on steamroller rear tires with a summer tread pattern, I found myself wondering if a set of snow tires for my little Nazi slot car might not be a wise investment after all...


Anonymous said...

Why the obession with big trucks?

'Cause Yankees got to get stuff done.

Shootin' Buddy

Tam said...

Snow tires would do fine.

So would front-wheel drive.

(And "Yankees got to get stuff done"? What, do y'all get in trouble if you don't make it to the picket line in front of the shut-down factory on time?)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, summer tires blow in winter.

Get some uncovered steel rims for them, so it's easier to attach the chains.

You'll be loving it when you pull away fromthe SUV in the ditch.

Of course as soon as you do it will not snow for 2 years...

Anonymous said...

bought a snow blower after the winter of 78/79, don't think it snowed for 4 years. Cheap insurance if you ask me! Different rims for your snowies is the way to go, may not have room for chains under those sleek, streamlined fenders, but they are great on ice. A nice, mid 90s to 2000, two door Chevy Blazer 4wd would give you some freedom in the snow. Buddy has one and can go through quite a bit without ever shifting into 4wd. We chase coyotes through cornfields so we get into some deep stuff. I've pulled him out twice in 10 years, and the only reason I could get to him was because he'd created a track. Larry Weeks

Jeff said...

I haven't had to scrape off my car since early 2007...
Of the many things I do miss about living in NW Indiana snow is not one of them. I can get to snow in the mountains outside Vegas in about 45 minutes if I want to go play.
I'm loving the high 60's this week.


Unknown said...

Daily driver of a Miata, the Pacific Theater version of your car, above 9000 feet in Colorado. Snow tires 9 months of the year, and I've had no issues. My driveway is 20% grade, solid ice right now -- but it climbs right on up.

You don't need FWD, you just need proper shoes.

OA said...

A Eurythmics ear worm. Lovely. Just lovely. I hope the toilet seat's extra cold tomorrow morning.

"I found myself wondering if a set of snow tires for my little Nazi slot car might not be a wise investment after all..."

Yup. You don't want to not be able to dodge someone gettin' stuff done to your rear quarter panel.

Firehand said...

This has been about the worst winter, snow & ice-wise, that I can remember in OK.

John Peddie (Toronto) said...

Try killing 2 birds with one stone, and put a couple of big bags of sand in your trunk.

The weight will add traction on the drive wheels, same way an engine weight does on a front wheel drive.

Cement blocks work too, but more likely to move around under hard braking.

Cheaper than snow tires, and maybe OK if there's reasonable amount of tread on those rear tires.

If not, and you get snows, the earlier suggestion of an extra set of rims is SOP for snow areas-facilitates seasonal changes.

OTOH, you could bundle up the snow and UPS it to the Olympics on our left coast-understand they're a tad short of the stuff out there.

Joanna said...

I hit a slick spot this morning, a perfect storm of hill, curve and blowing snow. I slid all over the road and wound up pointing the other direction in the (thankfully empty) other lane.

I was very, very, very careful the rest of the way home.

Anonymous said...

Definitely; get a set of snows on separate rims, so you crank then on yourself when the need arises. A set of chains isn't a bad idea either, if you have room in those wheel wells.

'Course you get all this stuff, and you'll never see a significant show again. Still; better to have it not need it... -- Lyle

Bram said...

Front wheel drive is overrated. Going uphill, all the weight shifts to the back and there you sit feeling silly as the fronts spin (unless you have a Saab – somehow the wife was able to drive that thing anywhere – must be a Swedish thing).

If you have the fancy staggered sport package, you would probably need to invest in some smaller steel wheels with winter treads.

Or, pick up a nice snowmobile until this ice age ends.

GuardDuck said...

In my area where snow and ice are a relatively rare occurrence, snow tires and chains are like insurance, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and a defensive firearm. You have the thing just in case.

In an area where the snow and ice are a given? Not having proper tires and chains is like purposely taking a knife to a gunfight.

If you're somewhere in between rare occurrence and guaranteed? Well heck, you carry a second magazine for an even less likely scenario don't you?

OA said...

Incidentally, z-chains would probably fit.

Matt G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt G said...

I'm a fan of bags of playground sand or premixed concrete in the trunk, myself.

And if I were up the the Great White North and had an over-torqued RWD roadster (but wait-- you've got a button for the torque), I'd look into snow cleats. Cheap, and easier to put on than chains.

But I live down here in the SW Plains, and drive a little FWD car, so I don't screw with it.

Anonymous said...

Tires? Sand? Tam, you need one of these... :)

Al T.


Anonymous said...


Ah, winter!


Anonymous said...

"Try killing 2 birds with one stone, and put a couple of big bags of sand in your trunk. "

Not a bad idea in general for RWD cars, but I think the Z3 actually has decent weight distribution and that you'd propably not want to mess too much with (unlike unloaded pickup trucks => Horrible)

On the other hand a couple of small bags of sand, and surprisingly, kitty litter make excellent grit when you need a little more traction.

Also, if you find yourself in the situation where one of the two tires in back is spinning and the other is on nice dry ground or not turning, the trad trick is to slowly press the brake with accelerator, the theory being that the spinning wheel heats up the brake pad and tightens much harder allowing power to shift to the other wheel as you slowly pull out.

I've seen it done, very cool, not sure if it works with those clever ABS systems though - which incidentally are CRAP on snow/ice covered roads.

Gewehr98 said...

Not a bad idea, Tam.

I do the spare set of steel rims w/ Bridgestone Blizzaks for winter thing, myself.

Will said...

For swapping wheels, Horror Fright (couple in your town) carries a small aluminum floor jack that weighs about 24 lbs, and lists for $100. Sale price is typically about $60, IIRC. I like it because it fits under low slung suspensions (3").


Anonymous said...

Tam, not ragging on you, just so you know, but this hit a nerve with me. From a poster above:
"You'll be loving it when you pull away from the SUV in the ditch."
The unadulterated hatred of SUV's by elitists continues unabated, even during weather when the SUV is in its element as appropriate transportation. Maybe he/she has not heard that the global warming-caused-by-Chevy-thing is fading.

CGHill said...

A friend of mine stuffs her pickup bed with rolled-up rubber mats to put some weight over the rear wheels. To my knowledge, she's never been stuck anywhere.

libertyman said...

Probably no steel wheels for the Z3. but good old TireRack lists some winter tires. I have had the winter Michelins on my old Jeep with good results, though on the new Jeep it is 4 studded Hakkapellittas Keep a set of mounted tires, and they can be quickly changed, and save the nice alloy rims for warm weather. Yes, studs are noisy, and some states limit their use, so try the Blizzaks, as I hear good things about them.

Anonymous said...

""You'll be loving it when you pull away from the SUV in the ditch."

The unadulterated hatred of SUV's by elitists continues unabated, even during weather when the SUV is in its element as appropriate ."

You wound me sir, I don't hate SUV per se, I hate the _idiots_ who drive them badly in crappy weather (4wd helps you go, not stop), with inappropriate tires (summer tires on a 3 tonne vehicles is like putting roller skates on a tank), and then looked shocked when they end up decorating the ditches.

I just thought the idea of winter equiped Z3 (not exactly Mother Gaia highly recommended list), driven by our tam, tooling around and pulling away from one of these idiots would make my day. All it needs is a tow hitch to make me giggle.

I do think FAR too many people buy them, when smallish FWD drive cars go fine in heavy Montreal snow of my youth with no real issues, but that's just a personal opinion.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I think JayG is pissed at you or something. Because of those tires, maybe.

Ritchie said...

Once had a VW Rabbit with brand new oversized studded snow tires. The only thing that would slow it down was snow too deep to climb out of, 18" or so.

Anonymous said...

I've had the studded winter shoes on since the snow stuck, and just my luck we haven't really got much snow here.

Of course the instant I put the summers back on, it'll come down like the end of the world.

The irony is that the stock summer rims on my car are called snowflakes for the resemblance.


Keads said...

LOL! You rock Tam!

Quote:"(And "Yankees got to get stuff done"? What, do y'all get in trouble if you don't make it to the picket line in front of the shut-down factory on time?)"

Anonymous said...

There's a set of wheels and snow tires in the garage here in Ohio that don't fit anything we currently own. If you have 5-lug wheels and a "5-100" bolt pattern, they'll fit. [Check with Discount Tires.] E-mail me. I'm about 4 1/2 hours away - a drive over there lets me hang out with friends a few miles away from you.OldeForce

paulcr39 said...

Well today just out side of Mordor I washed the silver gray hot rod and it is now back to red. Very warm water in the bucket helps keep the hands from being numbed by the upper 30s degree water coming out of the hose. This winter doesn't seem all that bad, but then again I'm born and raised in this.

Summer tires + snow = Flat bed ride to the body shop. Hypnagogue said it best above: You don't need FWD, you just need proper shoes.

Anonymous said...

""Yankees got to get stuff done"? What, do y'all get in trouble if you don't make it to the picket line in front of the shut-down factory on time?"

Ouch...buddies get no quarter 'round here...dumbass words that exit the mouth get stuffed back down the throat pretty quick; that's funny, and I don't care who ya are.

Equal Opportunity Snark...I like it!


Standard Mischief said...

It's a shame that you can't just buy a $2000 beater Toyota FWD hatchback, slap a $50 set of tags, blow $70x2 for snow tires up front and not end up with practically doubling your car insurance cost to boot.

What the f*** is up with that? You can only drive one car at a time.

Do the lefty/greenie/hippie/dummies ever think that that's the reason why so many SUVs are sold? Because it's a pain in the wallet to keep two cars licensed and insured, renting can be such a hassle, and people like being able to go to the hardware store any time they want to pick up some sheetrock and 2x4 without a major production?

Parallel said...

+1 on the Bridgestone Blizzaks.

My 2004 Mazda RX-8 came with tires that were downright scary on <1 cm of blowing snow.

With the Blizzaks? It's as sure footed as my wife's Subaru Outback.

(Of course, 50/50 weight distribution, no-torque-on-the-low-end Wankel engine and a too-clever-by-half traction control system help too!)

WV "multivas": more than one sandal?

Blackwing1 said...

I'm with Libertyman on the Hakkapeliitta snow tires (or as they say on their web site, "tyres"). Do a little research on snow and ice racing and you'll find they're the single best tire for snow, in the world, bar none. Their un-studded version is still outstanding.


The only problem with the Hakkapeliitta's is that their rubber compound is so soft that if you run them at temperatures over 45F you'll wear them down in a couple thousand miles. But as dedicated snow tire on separate rims they're unbeatable.

We put a set of their all-season radial "WMR" tires on my wife's old Fix Or Repair Daily (FORD) Escort...it was like driving a new car. Just amazing traction.

Ken said...

This winter ain't been that bad, comparatively speaking -- not for Cleveland, anyway. I haven't even got a can of gas for the two-stroke Gore's Bane. However, I do feel for the folks in areas who aren't set up for toxic global warming fallout, and I will allow that this drip-drip-drip two or three inches a day instead of one-big-storm-and-a-week-to-rest-up-for-the-next-one does cause a certain amount of AGNTSA. :-) The Malibu is not bad in snow, but my old Cavalier with the stick was better.

Tam said...

"This winter ain't been that bad, comparatively speaking -- not for Cleveland, anyway."

We're 0.1" away from breaking into the top 10 snowiest winters ever in Indy, and February's not over yet. I'm pretty sure the next batch (due this weekend) could get us in solidly.

atlharp said...

I would do it. I did 2 things before winter started this year. I got my heater fixed in the car, and I got a new set of tires. Both of these decisions have saved my keister on numerous occasions this winter. I would go for the snow tires. That and an emergency road kit. I'm just sayin'.....

Scott said...

Another vote for snows. I like Blizzaks have recommended them to customers for years and have yet to have anyone complain about a lack of traction. Like the Hockeypucks they wear insanely fast over 45 or 50 degrees so get them off before tax day.

Gabe said...

...and yet another vote for extra wheels and snow tires. Sandbags might do the trick in a Bimmer but extra weight alone was useless in my RWD F-150. I tossed on some winter treads and life's been shiny since.

George said...

An old trick from cab drivers who pounded back the snow in Montreal was to put snows on all four tires. This was in RWD times ... long before Tam's time ... but it sure worked ... from personal experience.

If the Three is just to be available ... to use or not as conditions dictate ... snows on the rears would be fine. If you want to be able to use it whenever, regardless of conditions, I'd put the four snows on ... on their own rims, please.

Perhaps that's more expense than your locale warrants, Tam?


Ed Foster said...

OldeForce sounds like a Dude. Do the online check thing.

And guys, take this from someone who has not only survived winter in Vermont, but the far more dreaded mud season. The purpose of 4 wheel drive is to get you 20 miles further back into the woods before you get stuck.

I know a guy who lost his gas tank, and only got out by pouring gas into his windshield wiper reservoir, pushing the button, and running the hose to the carb. It was a long drive home.

Ritchie said...

"I would go for the snow tires. That and an emergency road kit. I'm just sayin'....."
I have a suspicion Tam's ERK doubles as traction weight AND makes fire!

Anonymous said...

Ed Foster: "OldeForce sounds like a Dude"? Tam knows me from earlier days, when I picked up on a picture she had of the S&W 296 and then bought it from Cold Creek. I would not lead her astray! [And I'd meet her at a local tire store, not in the wee hours behind Wal-Mart.]