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Old 12-30-2012, 08:37 AM   #75
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 44577
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Sumas, WA
2004 WRX Sti
WR Blue Pearl


Advice for 'snow' driving -- get out and drive in the stuff as much as possible. Purposely leave early for work/home, so if you mess up, you can get a tow or a ride from a friend/taxi (never had to utilize that option, but be on the 'ready').

I got my '04 STi in late September '03. My first set of winter tread was the Nokian WR's. I have to depend on these tires essentially from early October through mid May, as I live in the Pacific Northwest and am exposed to frequent rainy conditions, as well as black ice.

First Friday of Dec '03, I drove from NW WA to Calgary, in a steady snowstorm. The drive in the summer is usually 10.5 hours (I did it in 11). I don't share this to brag, but to emphasize I was essentially white knuckle driving for several hours at a time. An hour into my drive, I hit snow. At the 2nd hour, the snow was 5+ inches deep and unplowed/untracked. There were cloud breaks, occasionally, and it was a full-moon night, so it was somewhat easy to see the definition of the snow surface. I picked up a Greyhound passenger in Revelstoke, who was familiar with the highway and essentially 'told' me to keep the hi-brights on full-time, regardless of what came the other way. Evidently he was right on the advice, 'cause there were enough Elk (alive and dead) on the shoulder of the highway and nobody flashed their beams to go 'low-beam.' I would assume having driven in untracked snow facilitated ease of staying on the highway, despite having some difficulty staying within my lane (how would I know, anyway -- couldn't see any lane markings).

Drove two nights later into Salt Lake City in -20 degree weather on high-plateau Montana. Easily maintained 80+ on I-15, following an S-10 blazer on dry, thin-coverage snow. Two weeks later in SLC, snow was abundant and was able to manage speeds up to 85 on secondary highway routes with the WR's. Spent some considerable time practicing with different settings on the DCCD in the parking lot of the Utah Olympic Oval. Found the best for drifting and throttle steer with bias of 65 rear / 35 front.

Two seasons later, stepped up to the Nokian RSi's, which provided incredible bare ice grip, but not the greatest in slush. Enjoyed these tires for two winters, but forget about any 'peeling-out' or drifting with these tires on snow-covered pavement, as they have such incredible grip, you could squeal the tires in the snow and you had to be heavy on the throttle to break free.

My fifth winter, I went with the Nokian Hakka 4's with the studs removed. The ice grip was nowhere near that of the RSi's, but were stable-enough to handle 125mph in the rain. The Hakka 4's had stiff enough tread blocks to easily manage drifting and breaking the tires loose. These rank more closely with an aggressive 'all-season' with siping.

6th winter, I switched back to the RSi's for two more winters. The Hakka 4's are still in the shed, waiting to be mounted to wheels for spring-time spirited driving (rains a lot in April & May out here).

8th winter (2011), moved up to Nokian R's, which have much better shoulder tread and allow for slightly more spring/summer-type aggression in the turns without wearing down the edges of the tread. They are great in the rain, but I question their reliability in the turns when it's wet (most cars on all seasons actually stick better in the turns -- even my summer tires do).

When I am driving in the wet, I almost always make the tires start to break loose or completely loose in turns in all kinds of environments and utilize throttle steering (leaving the DCCD in auto). My car is a 2004, so I don't have TC.

I have 5 acres, so before we had horses, I used to drift sideways in my field at 50+ mph, just so I could learn how to manipulate each situation.

Practice, practice, practice and DON'T do donuts on a public roadway -- you WILL get cited for reckless driving and be out $10,000 or more if you don't have a good lawyer!

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