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  1. #1
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    Subaru Forester

    I am looking for a trail worthY car, and the Forester looks like it might do the job.
    Ive heard that in order to replace the spark plugs on the Subaru you have to lift the engine. I hope that is not true, because although I'll probably not be tunining it, I'll be paying for it.

    Please give me reports on how trail worth the Forester is. I was thinking the Forrester 4 cyl. 5 spd manual, My other choice would be the Toyota FJ or the Nissan Xterra. I would prefer to get the Forrestera 4 cylinder for economy. No crawling, I'm imagining probably double track, to get to campsites and trail heads. this is something a Xterra would easily handle. Would the Forrester be able handle the same?

    Any comments would be appreciated.
    Last edited by nagatahawk; 10-28-2009 at 04:30 PM.

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    I love my 2006 forester. I have taken it up the mountain trails several times, although I would not consider I was 4x4ing it. I actually even used it in a rescue, fetching a fellow mountain biker who crashed up in the mountains and hurt his leg.

    I have slept in it when I was doing a 24 hour race. Great car, I would buy another in a heart beat. As far as the tuning goes, I can't answer. I have a buddy who takes care of me.

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    The Subaru Forester would be an ideal vehicle for your situation. It has won numerous awards for saftey, reliablity & performance. It's an AWD, so if your looking for a 4x4 you won't be able to find it in a subaru. It can take most rugged applications except the most extreme in which case a 4x4 would be most suitable. Once you go subaru you never go back... I have a subaru WRX currently and plan on getting a Forester next year. Best of luck

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    I had two Land Rovers for years and it was time to let someone else deal with maintenance issues. I looked at the same vehicles as your are, the FJ & Xterra. I went with the Forrester.If you don't need a vehicle to pull a big trailer or boat then the Forrester is going to be the right choice.Drive all 3 and you will see that the Forrester is funner to drive and just makes more since.

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    Timely post...I am looking for an awd sedan or wagon that will serve as a daily driver and our family of 4 can use on daytrips for hiking/biking. We (hopefully) will be moving to the Denver area in the spring so the Subaru is on my short list. The newly redesigned Forester is geting good reviews and I look forward to driving one soon....no dealer locally here in West Texas....go figure!! Our other rig is a 2008 4-Runner so we have the larger SUV for longer trips...just need something smaller and less thirsty.

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    great! Thanks guys for the info! I just attended a Subaru test drive at Malibu Creek Park, but unfortunately they did not have the Forester their. I was a little dissappointed because they showed a Forester in the 10 second TV ad. I did drive the Outlook, I like the car but am not a fan of CVT.

    I test drove the FJ, Its a big load, but the rear cargo area is small for hauling bikes.
    My friend has an early model Xtera, hates the gas mileage @ 15 mpg tops.

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    Just remember that the forester comes in a variety of models. All produce good gas mileage, but the XT version is turbo equipped and requires premium gas cosumption. If you don't mind the extra money for gas, that baby is almost like driving the WRX sedan, just a little heavier. The thing I like most about the forester is the size. Not as big as most SUVs, but bigger than sedans. It's just the right fit for me.

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    My Forester 4 cyl is a 2006 with 60K miles. It does really well in Colorado- I go on a lot of the forest service roads that would grind down a regular sedan. The AWD really helps on steep sections. I get 24-28 mpg now, depending on how much city or hwy driving I'm doing. While a true 4x4 with light-truck tires will be more capable, I have not been stuck or anything. I also have a Suburban 6L V8 but it only get s13-14 in the city and 16-17 on the hwy. The 4wd with its beffy tires is a bit more capable on the snow but not by much.

    If doing a lot of crawling or super-rough trails, I'd get the FJ but the Subaru can handle all I need it to. You can increase the clearance in the future with a 2" lift kit and/or 1/2" taller tires.

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    I get to drive me wife's 04' XT 5sp on the weekends and It's a great car. A real blast to drive in the snow with studded snow tires on.

    Something to think about... The manual tranny cars are limited off road as they have no crawling gear. A steep hill will cause them to stall if you have to go slow due to bumps etc. I think my 93 RWD Toyota pickup is better on slow bumpy steep climbs, unless it's snowing or very loose conditions.

    The automatic Foresters are much better in these situations, but the auto's have a 90/10 f/r torque split in "D". You can lock down a 50/50 split by selecting 1st or 2nd for off road. However anytime you're in D you basicly have a FWD car - Yuck!
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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    Mine is an auto and it is true- when dry, you have a 90% FWD car. When wet and snowy, it keeps transferring power to the rear very quickly. There is ONE situation where it does not help much. If you hit a bridge or exit to another highway and it is frozen and slick, the tendency on slippage is to let of the gas- bad move since now you have a front wheel drive car. It is best to keep the gas on or smarter yet, just slow down. 4WD Hi can only really be used under 50 mph but there is no replacement for snow tires on the Subies. My tires were pretty new but after a few 180s at 60 mph, I was a lot wiser.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    ... there is no replacement for snow tires on the Subies. My tires were pretty new but after a few 180s at 60 mph, I was a lot wiser.
    Wow that must have been scary! I was hoping to get away with all seasons on the XT but after one drive in the snow I bought snow tires. I like to drive aggressively in the snow and get the tail out a bit when conditions are safe but it's just too unpredictable with all seasons. With the snows on the XT will accelerate at full throttle in second gear with 2" of snow on the ground. The front tires will skip a bit and tug at the steering wheel, but it's amazing that it can put down 260 lb/ft of torque under those conditions.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subie
    Just remember that the forester comes in a variety of models. All produce good gas mileage, but the XT version is turbo equipped and requires premium gas cosumption. If you don't mind the extra money for gas, that baby is almost like driving the WRX sedan, just a little heavier. The thing I like most about the forester is the size. Not as big as most SUVs, but bigger than sedans. It's just the right fit for me.
    Well, not really. The XT comes with the 4EAT, 4spd+auto+weight+turbo+awd=poor milege. Not poor for an american SUV, but poor for a non AWD non Turbo car of the same size with a 5spd.
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    You don't have to lift the engine to change plugs. You need several short ratchet extensions. Plug in socket , then add extension after extension til you can feel bottom. Start the threads by hand, then add wrench to finsh. Simple.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    Well, not really. The XT comes with the 4EAT, 4spd+auto+weight+turbo+awd=poor milege. Not poor for an american SUV, but poor for a non AWD non Turbo car of the same size with a 5spd.
    It actually does fairly well on gas mileage and there is also third party comparison that places it high in it's class. Hybrids are also in the statistics as well. However, ones man take on good gas mileage may be totally different from others. For me I think a turbo driven SUV that produces 22 MPG or more on highway is doing quite well for itself.

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    I need to spring for snows- mainly for the curves. That was a bad night- midnight and heading back on an hour-long drive home after a vendor dinner. It was snowing hard and I had driven that route many times before. I hit the gradual turn and didn't realize it was raised off the ground and frozen. Next thing I know, my tail is sliding out fast. So I counter steer and nothing. I counter a bit more and it starts to come around but all the way around....and fast. I countered the other way and same thing. I was like WTF is going on- am I drunk? I wasn't. Then it was a battle of 180s but at midnight, there were few cars around. It felt like forever and really freaked me out. I ended up a foot or two from a steep ditch and after I caught my breath, I took off again. No tires like snow tires- I'm going with the Firestone Winterforce.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve71
    Wow that must have been scary! I was hoping to get away with all seasons on the XT but after one drive in the snow I bought snow tires. I like to drive aggressively in the snow and get the tail out a bit when conditions are safe but it's just too unpredictable with all seasons. With the snows on the XT will accelerate at full throttle in second gear with 2" of snow on the ground. The front tires will skip a bit and tug at the steering wheel, but it's amazing that it can put down 260 lb/ft of torque under those conditions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subie
    For me I think a turbo driven SUV that produces 22 MPG or more on highway is doing quite well for itself.
    That's just the thing, it does alright on the highway, but not great, but in town when you have to accelerate a lot it just goes to hell in terms of milege. Yeah, you can drive leadfoot or softfoot, but acceleration with a turbo uses tons of gas (due to the extra gas required to keep everything cool). I'd like to "like" cars like the FXT and outback XT, but this just ruins it for me. 4spd auto is just rediculous these days.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evel Knievel
    You don't have to lift the engine to change plugs. You need several short ratchet extensions. Plug in socket , then add extension after extension til you can feel bottom. Start the threads by hand, then add wrench to finsh. Simple.
    thanks that's good to know!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    I need to spring for snows- mainly for the curves. That was a bad night- midnight and heading back on an hour-long drive home after a vendor dinner. It was snowing hard and I had driven that route many times before. I hit the gradual turn and didn't realize it was raised off the ground and frozen. Next thing I know, my tail is sliding out fast. So I counter steer and nothing. I counter a bit more and it starts to come around but all the way around....and fast. I countered the other way and same thing. I was like WTF is going on- am I drunk? I wasn't. Then it was a battle of 180s but at midnight, there were few cars around. It felt like forever and really freaked me out. I ended up a foot or two from a steep ditch and after I caught my breath, I took off again. No tires like snow tires- I'm going with the Firestone Winterforce.
    Snow tires >>>>> than drive set up.

    I can't tell you how many 4X4, AWD what-evers with inadequate tires I left behind with my over powered, short WB, supposedly terrible in the snow rear drive Mustang shod with snow tires in Michigan.
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    Got a huge snowstorm come through so no bargaining on these Firestones anymore. $400 OTD is the price. If I can find them for $350, I'll jump on it. My A/S Michelins are more than scary on ice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    Got a huge snowstorm come through so no bargaining on these Firestones anymore. $400 OTD is the price. If I can find them for $350, I'll jump on it. My A/S Michelins are more than scary on ice.
    Those Firestone Winter Force tires are great. I run them on the Toyota 2WD pickup and the Forester XT. We once had a RWD Miata with Nokian Hakka's which were $$ tires, but I think the Firestones are on par.

    You'll be all but unstoppable with those on your Forester
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    That was a bad night- midnight and heading back on an hour-long drive home after a vendor dinner. It was snowing hard and I had driven that route many times before.
    ^10 pucker factor that it happened at night. Glad you and the car could drive away.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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    Good to hear. The Blizzaks and Michelin X-Ice tires are great options but far more expensive.

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    I would highly doubt you need snow tires on an AWD car unless you are driving in deep snow all the time (more than a few inches). I've had many AWD cars and SUVs - including Subarus and never needed them. We live in a rural area where the roads are snow and ice covered usually for at least all of January and usually most of Feb too. We drive on ice and in snow all the time. You do need to slow down and pay attention to conditions.

    The problem with cars that are as surefooted as a Subaru is that you are not always cognizant of deteriorating conditions until it is too late. It's easy to develop a false sense of confidence. Snow tires are not going to help that.

    It's your money, but I wouldn't do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80
    I would highly doubt you need snow tires on an AWD car unless you are driving in deep snow all the time (more than a few inches). I've had many AWD cars and SUVs - including Subarus and never needed them. We live in a rural area where the roads are snow and ice covered usually for at least all of January and usually most of Feb too. We drive on ice and in snow all the time. You do need to slow down and pay attention to conditions.

    The problem with cars that are as surefooted as a Subaru is that you are not always cognizant of deteriorating conditions until it is too late. It's easy to develop a false sense of confidence. Snow tires are not going to help that.

    It's your money, but I wouldn't do it.

    J.
    In snow and ice situations the AWD mostly only helps with getting you moving, and only slightly with taking turns...The vast bulk of turning capability, and all of the braking capability, rests with the tires.

    I sell Subarus, I own one now and 1 before, and once I saw the light, I never ran all-seasons on the winter ever again.

    I got crap from my coworkers all the time, being that we're a Subaru dealer, and so last year I had my girlfriend bring her front-wheel drive Mazda3 in with Blizzak WS60's in to my work when we got like 6 inches of snow.

    I then put my Legacy on all-season OEM Yoko Advans into a little impromptu test next to the Mazda with Blizzaks in an empty parking lot next to our dealer.

    Acceleration: Very similar, the Legacy actually clawed it's way forward slightly better than the Mazda. The only problem was it was sliding left and right in a ridiculous manner. The Mazda tracked straight, no drama.

    Turning: The Mazda held a big sweeper at 30 mph while the Legacy understeered horribly. As in "if it was a road, a guardrail or curb would have been kissed."

    Stopping: From 40 mph the Mazda stopped at LEAST 3 carlengths sooner than the Legacy.

    Now, that said, Subaru + Snow tires = way better. This year we have Nokians on the Mazda and I am putting those Blizzaks on my Subaru so all is well.

    The Legacys have more of a touring tire compared to the more pseudo-SUV style tires on the Forester and Outback, so those two will fare better, but still nowhere near what snow tires will do. My manager curbed an Outback last year at like 8 mph when he was turning in the parking lot on ice, it was slow motion but he couldn't stop it, it was rather funny to watch since we sell Subarus.

    Sorry for the thread derailment, whenever there's snow tire talk involved I get excited.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nagatahawk
    I am looking for a trail worthY car, and the Forester looks like it might do the job.
    Ive heard that in order to replace the spark plugs on the Subaru you have to lift the engine. I hope that is not true, because although I'll probably not be tunining it, I'll be paying for it.

    Please give me reports on how trail worth the Forester is. I was thinking the Forrester 4 cyl. 5 spd manual, My other choice would be the Toyota FJ or the Nissan Xterra. I would prefer to get the Forrestera 4 cylinder for economy. No crawling, I'm imagining probably double track, to get to campsites and trail heads. this is something a Xterra would easily handle. Would the Forrester be able handle the same?

    Any comments would be appreciated.
    Double track will be absolutely fine for the Forester. It's just not something designed to take rock crawling, as you know already. Double track, fire roads, that sort of thing are perfect for it.

    In terms of economy you'll do way better with the Forester over the other two. Possibly reliability too. But their strength lies in more advanced off-roading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by XJaredX
    In snow and ice situations the AWD mostly only helps with getting you moving, and only slightly with taking turns...The vast bulk of turning capability, and all of the braking capability, rests with the tires.

    I sell Subarus, I own one now and 1 before, and once I saw the light, I never ran all-seasons on the winter ever again.

    I got crap from my coworkers all the time, being that we're a Subaru dealer, and so last year I had my girlfriend bring her front-wheel drive Mazda3 in with Blizzak WS60's in to my work when we got like 6 inches of snow.

    I then put my Legacy on all-season OEM Yoko Advans into a little impromptu test next to the Mazda with Blizzaks in an empty parking lot next to our dealer.

    Acceleration: Very similar, the Legacy actually clawed it's way forward slightly better than the Mazda. The only problem was it was sliding left and right in a ridiculous manner. The Mazda tracked straight, no drama.

    Turning: The Mazda held a big sweeper at 30 mph while the Legacy understeered horribly. As in "if it was a road, a guardrail or curb would have been kissed."

    Stopping: From 40 mph the Mazda stopped at LEAST 3 carlengths sooner than the Legacy.

    Now, that said, Subaru + Snow tires = way better. This year we have Nokians on the Mazda and I am putting those Blizzaks on my Subaru so all is well.

    The Legacys have more of a touring tire compared to the more pseudo-SUV style tires on the Forester and Outback, so those two will fare better, but still nowhere near what snow tires will do. My manager curbed an Outback last year at like 8 mph when he was turning in the parking lot on ice, it was slow motion but he couldn't stop it, it was rather funny to watch since we sell Subarus.

    Sorry for the thread derailment, whenever there's snow tire talk involved I get excited.
    I might agree with that for the stock Sub tires - they don't put the best on them to begin with. But if you get good all season tires, top line stuff (which you should anyhow), you don't need snow tires. There is a marginal benefit but it's not worth the cost. I've had the best in snow tires on cars recently and I can find no substantial benefit to do it especially on ice. It's just not worth the hassle (need to watch temperature, storage and switching out seasonally) and cost for the performance increase.

    Now if you are driving in deep snow all the time, that's a different deal. But that is a far less likely occurrence for most drivers and usually predictable/avoidable.

    J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80
    I would highly doubt you need snow tires on an AWD car unless you are driving in deep snow all the time (more than a few inches).
    Good luck stopping or turning on ice without studs.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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    Sure. Except that they are illegal in most states, including mine. Frankly, if you drive properly, you don't need those either and they certainly are not worth the damage to the roadways that occur with them.

    Look, here in MN we drive on ice all winter long and it's no big deal. When the temps get down below -8F, which happens all the time, salt no longer melts ice so even the highways can stay permanently icy for days. We get "black ice" - ice you can't see, but is still quite slippery, that comes from the exhaust of cars and can snare the unwary. However, rush hours are normal, people drive at normal highway speeds in those conditions because we know how to handle it and how to anticipate the conditions. Nobody stays home, they go about their lives normally. There is some impact on traffic, but it isn't nearly as large as the uninitiated would presume.

    You can't add equipment to make driving on ice seem like normal. It's mostly all the driver and the skill of the driver in dealing with the conditions. If you can't handle ice, no amount of snow tires (most are actually worse on ice BTW, less surface area) or AWD is going to keep you out of the ditch. If you can't handle ice, stay off the road. It's that simple.

    J.

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    It is the studded tires that some states want to make illegal (or already have). I run Michelin Pilot Exalto and use to have the stock Geolanders. The Pilots are a better in snow but for braking, nothing in the AS category come close to dedicated winter tires like the Blizzak- not even close. Turning is superior too but braking is the most important. ABS sucks in snow, of course but that is another story and somewhat easy to disable.

    My FWD Accord was better on snow with the older Nokians (far better) than the Michelin Energy AS tires. I think drivers here in Colorado are a less pedictable and not as bad-weather savvy than any other place I have lived. Panic braking and panic turns abound in bad weather. I just want snows to help get away from them.

    EDIT- mainly referring to driving on packed snow or deep snow or even slush. Light snow isn't a big deal.

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    As I said earlier in this thread, I enjoy driving aggressively in snowy conditions - if safe to do so. Studded snow tires allow you to break traction safely and predictably (if you know how to really handle a car). You don't need them if you're prepared to drive very slowly and never break traction. Still I'd hate to see what the stopping distance is with all seasons on glare ice.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80
    Sure. Except that they are illegal in most states, including mine. Frankly, if you drive properly, you don't need those either and they certainly are not worth the damage to the roadways that occur with them.

    Look, here in MN we drive on ice all winter long and it's no big deal. When the temps get down below -8F, which happens all the time, salt no longer melts ice so even the highways can stay permanently icy for days. We get "black ice" - ice you can't see, but is still quite slippery, that comes from the exhaust of cars and can snare the unwary. However, rush hours are normal, people drive at normal highway speeds in those conditions because we know how to handle it and how to anticipate the conditions. Nobody stays home, they go about their lives normally. There is some impact on traffic, but it isn't nearly as large as the uninitiated would presume.

    You can't add equipment to make driving on ice seem like normal. It's mostly all the driver and the skill of the driver in dealing with the conditions. If you can't handle ice, no amount of snow tires (most are actually worse on ice BTW, less surface area) or AWD is going to keep you out of the ditch. If you can't handle ice, stay off the road. It's that simple.

    J.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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    I have an Audi A6 Avant quattro, it's a spectacular car... loads of room, fast enough for me, handles very well.... while it was in the shop for some warranty work, I was given an '09 Forester (had it for 3 weeks total)..... my next car will be a 4cyl 5spd Subaru

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve71
    As I said earlier in this thread, I enjoy driving aggressively in snowy conditions - if safe to do so. Studded snow tires allow you to break traction safely and predictably (if you know how to really handle a car). You don't need them if you're prepared to drive very slowly and never break traction. Still I'd hate to see what the stopping distance is with all seasons on glare ice.
    studs would be nice but they are illegal in probably more states than they are legal (where it snows). Makes it a total PITA to drive interstate - huge hassle and not worth it. I *might* be convinced to switch tires if we were allowed studs, but otherwise - no.

    J.

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    Fair enough. We do have it lucky that way here in CO, you can run studs year round.


    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80
    studs would be nice but they are illegal in probably more states than they are legal (where it snows). Makes it a total PITA to drive interstate - huge hassle and not worth it. I *might* be convinced to switch tires if we were allowed studs, but otherwise - no.

    J.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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    For example, they are illegal in MN, MI, WI and IL. But the are legal in CO, NE, IA and some of the western states.

    Also, note that studded tires reduce the efficiency of the tire for stopping on wet pavement because it reduces the surface area of the rubber on the pavement. As well, the pavement damage that occurs from studs is greatly accelerated over normal wear and the repair is costly.

    Here is a link to the Washington State DOT about studded tire usage.
    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter/studtire.htm

    I guess this changes my thoughts about even studded tires. The percentage of miles driven, especially those miles driven at faster speeds, has got to be considerably less than the miles driven on dry pavement. In that case, it is much better to have a good all season tire than either snow tires or studded tires.

    J.

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    In my experience studded tires work fine on wet pavement and everywhere else. Obviously they're not R compound rubber, but you adjust your driving accordingly. You know what tires you're driving, but you don't always know if the road surface is going to change in the blink of an eye. The link you provided doesn't contain any data. It just states the the stopping distance is reduced with studs. It doesn't state by how much - it could be as little as 1ft from 80mph. Sounds like propaganda so that they can ban studs and not get crap about the safety angle.

    I'm sure it accelerates damage, especially when people drive like I drive.

    They don't use salt on the roads here in Denver and we get lots of ice. Snow melts during the day and then the standing water freezes at night.
    Last edited by Steve71; 10-30-2009 at 02:58 PM.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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