Winter tires are a topic that brings up many different feelings and opinions – it’s a recurring subject as the winter is creeping closer.
Currently when resarching these tires on the internet, there’s not an overwhelming amount of information out there.
Introduction and background
First of all, I’m not an expert, but I do have experience with various winter tires such as:
– Premium: Goodyear Ultragrip Ice Actic SUV XL 110T 275/45R20
on a VW Touareg 2013 V8 TDI
– Budget: Landsail ice Star iS37 245/45R20 103H (front) + Landsail ice Star iS37 275/40R20 106T XL (rear)
on a Audi Q5 2010 3.0 TDI
– Premium: Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT2 235/80R17 120Q
on a Mitsubishi Pajero 1999 3.5L LWB
… these are the most recent tires I’ve bought for winter conditions.
All on 4WD/AWD cars, and all brand new, studded.
Based in the country side in Sweden, where my local roads are not treated with salt, I prefer to have studded tires.
However it does feel a bit pointless at times as the winters are becoming less and less snowy, and less cold (= less ice). This is partially why I look at cheaper tires, but a big part of why is actually because I’m trying to prove that cheap tires doesn’t have to be… sh*t.
It’s 2020, soon 2021. Tires in similar forms have been around for probably 50 years – why would cheaper brands not move forward in their development as premium ones do?
The tires and the vehicle
These tires are seen as a budget tire, in the very bottom of the price range for winter tires.
The ones I got are manufactured in 2018, but sold as brand new. (However the reseller has to state this)
Size: 255/55R18 109T XL
They’re mounted on a VW Touareg (again), but this time a 2011 with 3.0 TDI instead. With double the mileage of the previous one mentioned.
This actually makes it even more interesting, as the two Touareg’s have the same drivetrain except for the engine of course. The V8 is a bit heavier too.
For summer I’ve had both 18″ and 22″ wheels on this Touareg.
Dry and wet conditions – non snow/ice
The tires corner surprisingly well while driving spiritedly on twisty back roads, of speeds between 70-90 km/h. Very little rolling due to soft side walls. I’m running 2.6 bar (37.7 psi) in all four tires.
The studs do make some noise on highway speeds, but not too much. It’s more of a constant slight humming.
In wet conditions they feel alright, I have not experienced any aquaplaning despite driving in very wet conditions. I think one noticeable difference compared to more expensive tires, is the directional stability when changing lanes in such conditions. They feel alright in this aspect too, but a premium tire would feel more confident.
These tires have not seen more than 120-130km/h so far, but there’s nothing to complain about in higher speeds vs lower speeds.
Snow and ice conditions
Now, this is where it gets interesting!
Waking up to a snow covered lawn when looking out from the bedroom window, when the last few weeks have just been dark and depressing – is such a good feeling!
During the day there was probably a good 10-15cm of snow.
As no roads were plowed when I started driving, the drive became even more exciting! A few people on the way had created their own path and eventually hit the ditches, and I was about to stop and turn around for one older couple who were stuck quite deep – but another guy in a pickup came to the rescue before me.
Also, offering help and pulling random people from a ditch like that is a bit scary for a number of reasons – insurance typically doesn’t cover any damages if anything goes wrong.. and you don’t know if the driver of the stuck car knows how to counter-steer and brake etc.
First impressions were that the tires felt a bit slippery. But after feeling how slippery the road was, that’s not too strange.
Temperatures of around 0c to 2c, are pretty ideal for very slippery conditions – in combination with newly packed snow and sludge.
Very unforgiving conditions.
The tires did alright here, and judging by how slowly everyone else was also driving – definitely alright.
On pure snow, where there had not been much traffic – the tires felt excellent. The car went where you pointed it, even in a bit higher speeds.
No issues at all going from a standstill, up and over a small hill etc.
Later during the day when the roads were plowed, but still no salt – I think the tires performed very well given their segment / price point.
In the evening, there of course had to be some playing around on empty parking lots. Traction control / ESP OFF check!
Except being childishly fun, it’s also a good way to get to know your vehicle and tires, and how they react in extreme conditions.
Since I wasn’t the only one out ‘drifting’, tracks of plain ice has already formed over said parking lots…
I think the tires did fine here too! No problems with changing directions or stopping on ice.
They’re not sh*t 🙂
For the extremely low price of these tires, I don’t think you can go wrong if you’re looking for a studded winter tire for your SUV.
So far I would definitely buy them again – but I might come back with an update after some more driving through snow and ice.
I can’t say that I care too much for how they wear, as tires generally just last one or two seasons for me, but an update on that could be of value for some of you too I guess!