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Old 01-10-2024, 05:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Wintertime tire pressure?

So, Iím new to snow country. Aside from a mighty struggle with driving in snow and just general life in a climate where it gets cold in winter, I think itís worth considering what to do regarding tire pressures. I have always run 44psi year-round, but Iím dangerous enough in snow with my lack of experience as it is - should I drop it down to the door tag rec of 36, or go lower? Somewhere in between? Itís on my 2014 Chrysler Town and Country, and I am up in Western NY, if that makes any kind of difference.

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Old 01-10-2024, 07:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Generally you want the tires to dig in, which means higher pressure.
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Old 01-11-2024, 09:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcp123 View Post
So, I’m new to snow country. Aside from a mighty struggle with driving in snow and just general life in a climate where it gets cold in winter, I think it’s worth considering what to do regarding tire pressures. I have always run 44psi year-round, but I’m dangerous enough in snow with my lack of experience as it is - should I drop it down to the door tag rec of 36, or go lower? Somewhere in between? It’s on my 2014 Chrysler Town and Country, and I am up in Western NY, if that makes any kind of difference.
There's 2 schools of thought:

1) To maximize the grip in snow, you want the largest footprint possible - and that means low pressures.

2) You want to penetrate through the snow to get down to road surface where the maximum grip is - and that means high pressure.

So I think what you do depends on where you are.
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Old 01-11-2024, 09:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Higher pressure might be better for light snow and slush. For ice, I assume maximizing the contact patch would get more sipes or studs gripping the ice. For packed snow, I'm guessing you won't see much difference in the normal pressure ranges. You can always experiment. I ended up lowering the pressure on the winter tires I have on my Insight because they were wearing mostly in the center.
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Old 01-11-2024, 10:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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This video convinced me to lower my rear pressures compared to the front. My aluminum Insight with no hybrid battery has almost no weight in the back!
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Old 01-11-2024, 10:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcp123 View Post
...Iím dangerous enough in snow with my lack of experience as it is...
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Old 01-26-2024, 02:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I grew up driving in the Lake Erie Rust and Lake Effect Snow Belt. I would venture to say that more important than pressure is having good snow tires that are fairly new. I have been having good luck with Bridgestone Blizzaks. They are a pretty good balance between traction and durability. I get them mounted on rims so I can do the changeover in the driveway when the weather changes.

I live in the Colorado mountains now and I am amazed how many people think they can get by with "all season" tires because they have 4WD.
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Old 01-26-2024, 03:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I live in the Colorado mountains now and I am amazed how many people think they can get by with "all season" tires because they have 4WD.
Agreed, but now let me play Devil's Advocate.

Some all-season tires have a severe winter rating, and survey results show they can perform quite well.


Winter tires perform slightly better


When I get another personal vehicle, I will likely get steel rims and dedicated winter tires, but some people can't be bothered with the extra expense and time spent swapping wheels out. For those people, there are year-round tires that perform well in all conditions. Those Michelin CrossClimate2 tires perform so well across the board, I'd be tempted to pay the price premium to not have to buy steel rims or swap wheels out twice per year.

I requested the Bridgestone WeatherPeak tires on the company car, and have driven extremely harsh winter conditions in Montana with them. They have an 8.8 winter rating, and I can vouch for how capable the tires are. I'll do 55 MPH on ice covered highways.
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Old 01-26-2024, 03:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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AWD does not replace good tires, period (even though it does according to Colorado Law).

Good all season tires can be almost as good as good winter tires. But there's also a reason for the difference between all-season and winter tires (although now you can buy tires with both ratings called all-weather tires. My current tires are all-weather and actually perform better than the last set of winter tires I had purchased in the winter and do just as well as an all-season during other parts of the year).

With pressure, I don't second guess the manufacturer. On the other hand, the manufacturer is talking about cold tire pressure. If I inflate my tires to 33psi on a summer morning, then by the time I get driving around that pressure can and will get up past 40psi. Hence, if I'm going to be driving around short distances I keep it up at around 42psi, then let it back out before going on a highway trip.

In the winter, first of all the summer pressure of 33psi will be less than 33psi, depending on the temperature. And even if I fill my tires to 33psi on a cold winter morning, chances are they'll never heat up enough to get me up past 40psi. So instead I add some 3 to 5psi more, around 37psi. That way, as I drive down the highway they fill up to their normal pressure due to the little bit of heat generated from driving. If I'm going to be driving only short distances, then I fill up to 42psi as I normally do.

Small vs big contact patch has been argued for centuries. But if you ever compare a winter tire to a summer or all season tire, you will notice that even with the same sized tire the tread width is less on the winter tire than the others. My experience of 30 years driving in Colorado has also led me to believe that smaller contact patches on snow and ice is generally better.
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Old 01-26-2024, 04:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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depends on what tires your using. plenty of youtube videos testing and showing that with summer or all season tires, lowering the pressure to be super low like 16psi helps in fresh snow. but if you have winter tires, reducing tire pressure actually hurts more and one test even showed them getting stuck. overinflating dedicated winter tires gives the best grip

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