winter boots for the grand marnier.

We moved to Castle Frostbite in December of 2007. The Castle has a driveway that is dog-legged and at a 5-percent incline that increases to nine or ten percent at the very top of the driveway, in the least convenient spot possible.

I’ve been driving Grand Caravans since before we moved up here, and those are front wheel drive only. Every year when our driveway gets its permanent winter layer of snow and ice, I’ve had frequent issues with making the driveway run from bottom to top, even with new winter tires, and I’ve had to park at the bottom of the driveway a lot.

This year, I finally decided to spring for a set of these puppies:

IMG 0777

Those are Finnish Nokian-brand studded snow tires. As you can see, they have little tungsten carbide studs set into the treads, for bite on icy surfaces.

Those things are purest, darkest magic. My FWD minivan trucks up that icy incline now at least as well as Robin’s 4WD Jeep Cherokee. I don’t know why I didn’t try those out earlier…oh, wait, I do: they’re twice the price of regular snow tires. But man, are they ever worth the extra coin. Not only does the car have traction on ice like it’s asphalt in summer, but it stops much better on iffy surfaces as well. I haven’t spun a tire since I got the Nokians. TWO ENTHUSIASTIC THUMBS UP from the Munchkin Wrangler Gear Whore Labs.  AAAAA++++ WOULD SHELL OUT HALF A MORTGAGE PAYMENT AGAIN.

16 thoughts on “winter boots for the grand marnier.

  1. damn, either their tire selector is screwed up or they don’t make tires in the size to fit my car. Not that I want to spend that much on new tires, but a good set of snows would be worth it….

  2. I had a set of Nokian studded a few years ago and they’re good but real noisy when the the roads clear a little. $1200 for a set, installed on a Ford F150. Not cheap. Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires are quieter and the best non-studded winter tires I’ve found overall. YMMV but they work in Wyoming where winter is Nov thru May.

    Jason, the Nokians lasted for three winters. About the same for the Blizzaks.

  3. I have got to tell my folks about those tyres. They live at the top of an incredibly steep and winding private road and there are times in the winter when black ice forms a thick layer across the way. Scares the stuffing out of my 62yo mother driving up there, especially after dark (4pm in winter).
    I wonder if they are even available in NZ.

  4. I had a set of those on my last Grand Cherokee and they were fabulous here in NH. I used to have to make a right hand turn going down an icy hill, and they saved the day more than once. I then switched to Michelin X-Ice with excellent results as well. Can’t find the Michelins in the new Jeep size. so I have ordered a set of Blizzaks for the new Jeep.

    I will let you know how they do. Only a few options in 265/60-18 and I will never buy another tire from Goodyear, so that reduces the number of choices.

    Some states don’t allow studded tires except for part of the year, some prohibit them entirely. Nice thing here in NH we can do pretty much whatever we want! No prohibitions on their use that I am aware of.

  5. By the way, the Nokians were sold out here as well, as I would have gone with them. And yes, they were north of $220 per tire if you could get them.

  6. I think you are only allowed to use studded tires in NH until the middle of April.

    When I moved to Maine from Los Angeles, I quickly found out that black ice disagrees with cheap tires and I took out a youngish maple tree.

    My mechanic sold me some Nokians, and man, they acted like glue to ice and snow. They weren’t even studded, and worked better than many studded tires (according to my mechanic).

    Last year I got myself another set of Nokians, but these were somewhere between all weather and snow tires. I guess you could describe them as an all weather tire with more aggressive tread.

    They are well worth the little extra effort to find.

  7. Good morning from sunny Norway, the country not the town. Studded tires generally last longer than studless since the studs act to keep the tire away just a little more from the road surface, snow and ice don’t really wear the tires that much. Personally I’m using Hankook tires and they work well, my lane is a bit over a mile with an average 10% gradient, and no real issues getting in and out. Continental won a recent review of winter tires and will likely be what I go to next time. One thing to note, grit, even quite large grit ( half inch gravel really ) makes a huge difference, and is used liberally here everywhere. It also has the plus that come the spring, it melts out of the snow and ice, and self grits the surface, plus it acts as a heat point, melting and breaking up the ice faster than if it was left alone

  8. Mosingal – When I was a poor student I had the best snow-tires that the tire shop could order put on the front wheels only of a front-drive car. I did this against the advice of the tire shop. It made the back of the car really prone to sliding sideways at stops and curves.