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Discussion Starter #1
Did a comparison on TireRack between VREDESTEIN QUATRAC 5, KUMHO SOLUS KH16, and CONTINENTAL CONTIPROCONTACT. The results were pretty interesting.The Vredesteins beat the Kumhos, and really beat the Continentals. And the Vredesteins are cheaper! Heck, the Vredesteins are even Severe Snow Service Rated! Compared to the all season Kumhos and Continentals, which look like they will just get you in trouble in bad weather by comparison. I'm going to throw my QUATRAC 5s on my 2009 Passion, pull the old Continentals off the alloy rims and put something else on them. I see no reason to drive around on poorly rated tires
 

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Compared to the all season Kumhos and Continentals...
In the US, most "all-season tires" don't have the 3PMSF symbol so don't have good traction in the snow and ice. In Europe, "all-season tires" do have the 3PMSF symbol so do have good traction in the snow and ice. Therefore in the US an all-season tire is really just a three-season tire unless it has the 3PMSF symbol.

There's a wikipedia entry on snow tires that mentions the 3PMSF symbol


Tire showing the ASTM 3PMSF (Three-Peak Mountain Snow Flake) symbol, denoting a qualifying snow tire, and a separate snow flake symbol, that recommends tire replacement with 4 millimetres (0.16 in) of tread remaining[12]


As you will see from the wikipedia entry on snow tires, winter tires and all-season tires marked with the 3PMSF symbol need to have a tread depth of at least 4mm (0.16 inches) to have good snow/ice/winter performance.
 

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I've tested a few 3PMSF tires on a neighborhood street (a hill) that is south facing.
A snowstorm would cover the street and the snow would melt from the sun in the day and freeze overnight.
The 'test' was to get up this hill of ice (with Trust (450); ESP (453) enabled).

I only got to the top of this hill with Nokian WR D4 165/60/15 Front / Nokian WR G4 185/55/15 Rear.
Note that I had to get the D4s shipped in from Europe (expensive).

I haven't tried this test with the true winter tires, since I was setting up an 'All Weather' tire set I wouldn't have to change for the winter.

The tires that didn't get to the top of the hill were Nankang SV-2 and the Vredestein Quatrac 5, all three are 3PMSF rated.

The Nokians also have the stiffest sidewalls which matters if you're putting on tires for 'life' (of the tire) :)
 

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A steep ice covered hill is always going to be a tough test for all year round tires. I'm not surprised the winter specialist Nokians outperformed them in that scenario. It illustrates a good point in that some people will need proper winter tires. However, there are hills when even winter tires won't make it to the top. 4-wheel drive and snow chains being required. It's a case of using the right equipment to get the job done.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've got a set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded Winter Tires - 185/60R15 88T for such a possibility. They are pretty impressive looking. Two types of directional studs, nothing like the plain old round studs that are added after the fact, done like so for the last 75 years. As to why anyone might want to even go out in such conditions, well, it's all part of the challenge, isn't it? Can a lowly smart "toy" car hold its own? I expect that it can.

 
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