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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Just wanted to see if anyone here has an old Toyota Corolla (1996) like me and has some recommendations on tires for the upcoming Winter weather here in Denver, CO.

The advice I've been getting here so far leans towards not purchasing snow tires, instead finding some great all-season tires.

I was looking at the Conti Control Contacts.

But, thought I'd put the question out here the experts and those who are actually driving in the upcoming weather.

Thanks!

-D
 

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I think @94RollaDad runs all seasons, I'm sure he got good ones too, and he's in Chicago and says that he leaves much more capable vehicles in the dust during winter.
 

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2016 VW Tiguan SE 4Motion (APR Stage 1, Neuspeed P-flow/wheels)
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Whatever tire you buy, new tires will already meet the 3/16" minimum tread requirement for I-70. But, I would advocate for actual winter tires. You do need to stop and steer the car, which winter tires will provide superior control.

But, you'll also need a set of snow chains when CODOT calls for chain conditions.
 

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What size?

All weather tire would be a good choice if you dont want to keep dedicated set of snow tires, which is what I really recommend.....Blizzaks

Firestone Nokian Toyo Goodyear Vredestein.... make all weather tires
 
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For that year Corolla, it's 185/65r14 (DX) or 175/65r14 (CE). Choices are extremely limited for 185/65, and even worse for 175/65
 

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If you have the room to store them you could get 4 cheap rims at a junkyard and get dedicated snow tires. This is what 94RollaDad does, but we'll wait to see what he says. I live in the Phoenix area, so I have no recommendations for snow tires. :giggle:
 

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If you have the room to store them you could get 4 cheap rims at a junkyard and get dedicated snow tires. This is what 94RollaDad does, but we'll wait to see what he says. I live in the Phoenix area, so I have no recommendations for snow tires. :giggle:
Actually, I think I was wrong above. I believe 94RollaDad runs winter tires in the Winter, and not all-seasons.
 

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You can take or leave my specific recommendation for winter tires - the important thing is to get winter tires. What brand/model is secondary - even the worst winter tire outperforms an all-season in wintery weather. I'd venture to say most people who recommend all-seasons over winter tires haven't tried winter tires, and assume "because I've been able to survive on all-seasons that's the way to go". From a safety perspective winter tires are superior, and driving a 1996 small sedan you need all the safety you can get amidst all those SUVs out there :) But safety aside - winter tires make it FUN to drive when it's nasty outside!

The 14" rims make it extremely easy to swap tires. I do winter tire swaps on both our Corolla and the 17" rims on our Outback. Carrying and storing the 14" wheels is a breeze compared to the 17". There's also no TPMS so no re-programming needed. Easy! Not to mention tires for this car are super cheap compared to more modern larger tires. So if you can find a place to store the extra set there are not many excuses for not getting a second set!

My preferred tires - which I run on both our cars - is Michelin X-Ice IX3. The main difference between those and Blizzaks as I understand it from testing is that Blizzaks will slighly outperform X-Ice in pure snow, whereas the X-Ice are a bit better in all-around conditions including dry roads. I'd say you'll be in for a treat with either pick.

If you didn't want to run two set of rims I'd normally recommend an all-weather tire instead of an all-season tire. However I don't think you'll find an all-weather tire in this size.

As others have mentioned once I run the winter tires and it's foul weather it's the one condition where this poor old beater becomes a champ, leaving others (frequently literally) in the ditch. She's extremely capable with winter tires on. And I say this also owning a Subaru Outback AWD with winter tires. Obviously the Outback is a notch above, but I'll take the Corolla with winter tires over any AWD on all-seasons. The only shortcoming you'll potentially face on unplowed roads is the ride height.

I also have a pair of these in the trunk but I've never had to use them: Snow Chains for Tires, Best Tire Chains, Truck Tire Chains

I also have a snow shovel in the trunk - a proper one unlike the cheapos that break with the lightest of load - B2 Extendable Shovel
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If you have the room to store them you could get 4 cheap rims at a junkyard and get dedicated snow tires. This is what 94RollaDad does, but we'll wait to see what he says. I live in the Phoenix area, so I have no recommendations for snow tires. :giggle:
I was thinking the exact same thing @DrZ - Finding some cheap rims and just doing this myself...thank you!
 

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You can take or leave my specific recommendation for winter tires - the important thing is to get winter tires. What brand/model is secondary - even the worst winter tire outperforms an all-season in wintery weather. I'd venture to say most people who recommend all-seasons over winter tires haven't tried winter tires, and assume "because I've been able to survive on all-seasons that's the way to go". From a safety perspective winter tires are superior, and driving a 1996 small sedan you need all the safety you can get amidst all those SUVs out there :) But safety aside - winter tires make it FUN to drive when it's nasty outside!
I like the fun bit for sure. I'm leaning more towards the safety side of things as growing up Austin, Texas...then spending the last 8 years in the Bay Area has given me very little experience with "real" winter driving.

The 14" rims make it extremely easy to swap tires. I do winter tire swaps on both our Corolla and the 17" rims on our Outback. Carrying and storing the 14" wheels is a breeze compared to the 17". There's also no TPMS so no re-programming needed. Easy! Not to mention tires for this car are super cheap compared to more modern larger tires. So if you can find a place to store the extra set there are not many excuses for not getting a second set!
Agreed, the small size does make storage rather easy and rims on Amazon are right at $50/per...I'll have to check out the junkyard equivalents.

Question for ya @94RollaDad - Since my '96 is front-wheel drive only, I would think I only need the front two tires for the snow, keeping my nice all-season's on the back full time. Thoughts?

My preferred tires - which I run on both our cars - is Michelin X-Ice IX3. The main difference between those and Blizzaks as I understand it from testing is that Blizzaks will slighly outperform X-Ice in pure snow, whereas the X-Ice are a bit better in all-around conditions including dry roads. I'd say you'll be in for a treat with either pick.
I like the X-Ice build (including dry roads, as you said) given that the snow here in Denver stays on the ground for maybe 2 weeks, then it's gone 'til the next dump. I've been here for a couple of Christmas' visiting Family and didn't have any snow on the roads.

I also have a pair of these in the trunk but I've never had to use them: Snow Chains for Tires, Best Tire Chains, Truck Tire Chains

I also have a snow shovel in the trunk - a proper one unlike the cheapos that break with the lightest of load - B2 Extendable Shovel
Thanks for both links!
 

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Question for ya @94RollaDad - Since my '96 is front-wheel drive only, I would think I only need the front two tires for the snow, keeping my nice all-season's on the back full time. Thoughts?
Good question. Think of it this way:

  • The tires are needed for traction to accelerate and to start from a full stop, for which, yes, the front tires are what matters. If that is all that mattered this would be the end of story. But - as it turns out it's not even the most important part of the story:
  • Few will argue that even more important are braking and handling.
  • With braking you are not only losing the opportunity to have four gripping tires as opposed to two, but you are actually making it worse because your front tires will grip easily, while the rear is now super prone to sliding out and fishtailing.
  • Handling, such as taking on a corner at speed: With the front tires gripping and the rear not finding traction you are again much more prone to end in the ditch.
So.... winter tires should go on all four wheels. Don't skimp. There are some interesting youtube videos out there demonstrating the impacts of two versus four winter tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Good question. Think of it this way:

  • The tires are needed for traction to accelerate and to start from a full stop, for which, yes, the front tires are what matters. If that is all that mattered this would be the end of story. But - as it turns out it's not even the most important part of the story:
  • Few will argue that even more important are braking and handling.
  • With braking you are not only losing the opportunity to have four gripping tires as opposed to two, but you are actually making it worse because your front tires will grip easily, while the rear is now super prone to sliding out and fishtailing.
  • Handling, such as taking on a corner at speed: With the front tires gripping and the rear not finding traction you are again much more prone to end in the ditch.
So.... winter tires should go on all four wheels. Don't skimp. There are some interesting youtube videos out there demonstrating the impacts of two versus four winter tires.
Thanks for the in-depth and thoughtful response.

Good info. from everyone...it's much appreciated!

-D
 

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I was thinking the exact same thing @DrZ - Finding some cheap rims and just doing this myself...thank you!
Seems like steel rims from 7th gen Corollas at the junkyard are easy to find. At my local junkyard I had a bunch to choose from, but I was only buying one so that I could have a full size spare.

There was an area near the exit of the junkyard that had tools to manually remove the old tires from the rims, and it took me a little while to figure out how it works, so if you are venturing to the junkyard you might want to look up how to remove tires or find a video if you haven't done it before.

My local junkyard charges $12.50 for steel wheel rims, so you can save a good bit of money going this route assuming a similar price where you are.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Seems like steel rims from 7th gen Corollas at the junkyard are easy to find. At my local junkyard I had a bunch to choose from, but I was only buying one so that I could have a full size spare.

There was an area near the exit of the junkyard that had tools to manually remove the old tires from the rims, and it took me a little while to figure out how it works, so if you are venturing to the junkyard you might want to look up how to remove tires or find a video if you haven't done it before.

My local junkyard charges $12.50 for steel wheel rims, so you can save a good bit of money going this route assuming a similar price where you are.
Whoa! That's an enormous amount of savings.

Thanks for the 411 @DrZ !

-D
 

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But be careful if you're in the rust belt - I had problems with a couple of steel rims on my old '93 Rolla rusting badly enough that tire beads wouldn't seat and hold air.
 
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