Testing All Terrains versus Snow Tires - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-20-2019, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Testing All Terrains versus Snow Tires


So this past summer I picked myself up a set of Falken Wildpeak AT3's 245/65/17 to replace the BFG KO2's and factory all seasons.

I've been pretty happy with them. They ride a lot better than the KO2's and honestly are a good compromise tire for my uses even if they likely aren't as durable than the KO2's.

I also have a set of dedicated winter tires. They are Michelin X Ice 3 in 225/60/18. The Factory size.

The Falken's have a severe snow duty rating on them. The 3 peak mountain snow flake symbol. This made me consider selling the snow tires and just having one set to run year around.

Today I got a good chance to test the all terrains and the winters back to back.

It wasn't the most scientific testing I've ever done but we did try to be consistent.

After testing it showed what I pretty much already knew based on what little driving on snow I have done with the Falkens.

Simply put they SUCK on ice. We only had around an inch of snow but temperatures were around 25F the entire time.

I could have been driving on bald summer tires and not noticed a difference. I slid pulling out of my driveway and bumped the sidewalk.

The 3 peak mountain snow flake symbol is a joke. The fact that something that handles this bad gets rated as 'severe duty snow' just makes me doubt the entire standard. Why go through the trouble of getting a tire rated for snow.

I'll be keeping my winter tires for the foreseeable future.

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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-20-2019, 05:39 PM
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Not surprising. Modern snow tires benefit from tech in the rubber compounding that give them amazing grip on icy surfaces. It's not just aggressive tread patterns anymore.
Looks like a fun day except for all that coldness. Brrrr.

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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-20-2019, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Not surprising. Modern snow tires benefit from tech in the rubber compounding that give them amazing grip on icy surfaces. It's not just aggressive tread patterns anymore.
Looks like a fun day except for all that coldness. Brrrr.
More than anything I'm disappointed that "Severe Snow Duty" means basically nothing.

There are All Seasons that lack that symbol that handle snow better than this.

Falken rates their AT3's as performing "4/5" on snow as well.

If this is 4/5 on snow then the rest of their scale is suspect too.

@MiddleAgeSubie any thoughts?
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 02:36 PM
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Not much. We used them on 4 trails (1 difficult, 2 moderate, 1 easy) in about 1 inch of snow and had zero issues. The nastiest spot we drove on those was not covered by snow, thankfully, but my tires were. I got a bit of a spin even with the rear locker and Rock mode. But that spot is above Subaru grade. Elsewhere we never had any issues but we were also driving in fresh snow.

So I cannot really tell. The test would be to drive where others have been. We did encounter this on a steep rocky hill at the start of another trail and simply backed off that trail. There is no point in taking chances.

On road, we drove maybe 30-40 miles in falling snow with a thin snow cover. Did not have issues in 2wd. In Grand Junction, we faced a typical snow situation in an urban environment and in 2wd it was simply painful. Parking lots were snow covered and in 4x4 I had no issues at all.

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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 05:06 PM
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I don't think it's a secret that snow <> ice. The "severe snow rated" tires are just that, rated for better snow traction. Many dedicated winter tires use design elements that go beyond snow traction and provide better ice grip. So the fact that a tire with a mountain/snowflake symbol does poorly on ice should be no surprise.

One site spoke with a testing facility that certifies tires and this section of the test conditions should be telling:

Quote:
The snow has to be medium pack snow. Smithers uses natural snow that falls at their site during their December to April testing season. Medium pack snow—neither hard-packed nearing icy, nor too soft and powdery—really puts winter tires to the test for snow traction because the tread can bite into it. If need be, the test team uses their specialized snow preparation tools to move snow around and break it up to create the perfect medium pack snow.
They go on to specify that the symbol is awarded based on a tire's performance relative to a control tire, not an absolute performance metric.

In short, if you live where ice is common, buy winter tires. Luckily, in 26+ years of driving in New England I rarely encounter ice for more than a few hundred yards here and there.


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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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I don't think it's a secret that snow <> ice. The "severe snow rated" tires are just that, rated for better snow traction. Many dedicated winter tires use design elements that go beyond snow traction and provide better ice grip. So the fact that a tire with a mountain/snowflake symbol does poorly on ice should be no surprise.

One site spoke with a testing facility that certifies tires and this section of the test conditions should be telling:



They go on to specify that the symbol is awarded based on a tire's performance relative to a control tire, not an absolute performance metric.

In short, if you live where ice is common, buy winter tires. Luckily, in 26+ years of driving in New England I rarely encounter ice for more than a few hundred yards here and there.
From your link:

"This is why it’s always best to outfit your vehicle with quality winter tires or all-weather tires to ensure you’re going to get the performance you need in winter conditions.

When you’re looking for superior safety, be sure to look for winters that bear the severe service mountain snowflake winter tire symbol so you’ll get proper traction at temperatures between 7 C and freezing extremes."


Link on Tire Rack for more info on the symbol.

"...tires that attain a traction index equal to, or greater than 110 (compared to a reference tire which is rated 100) "

I think that's what irks me about this entire thing.

I bought these A/T tires and have been very happy with them as an 'all the time' tire.

Because they also had the snowflake symbol I assumed that they would do well in winter.

I was even considering selling the dedicated winter tires I have and clearing up some garage space. I'm glad I didn't.

It's truly a night and day difference driving the A/T's versus the Winters mounted.

The snowflake symbol standards are so low that it's essentially useless.

Or maybe I'm just a stickler.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-21-2019, 06:19 PM
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Last Friday I put on a set of P7 Cinturado All Season Plus that have the M&S rating but not the 3 Peak. In theory, they should do much poorer against 3 Peak however that is not the case.

Tirerack tested my new tires against 3 others that have the 3 Peak rating and surprise surprise! The P7 outperformed the dedicated 3 Peak in a number of winter metrics.

So it's not that symbol stamped on the tire but how the tire does. You can have the M&S symbol as a minimum standard but nothing prohibts the tires from handling even better, without the 3 Peak rating.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 11:41 AM
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Brucey, thank you for sharing your huge knowledge. Love your videos and I've subscribed to your YouTube channel.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 11:59 AM
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Brucey, thank you for sharing your huge knowledge. Love your videos and I've subscribed to your YouTube channel.
That kind of talk only encourages him.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Brucey View Post
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWGLMqUSm0U&

So this past summer I picked myself up a set of Falken Wildpeak AT3's 245/65/17
What is the 4 digit date code stamped on the sidewall occurring sometime after "DOT" (it's usually only on one side, not both).


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