While it's a bit late to be buying winter tires now as by the time I have the money for them, there won't be much of winter left. But I'm pondering getting them for next winter.
I sort of understand the concept of minus sizing the wheels for winter so that you have more tire to absorb potholes, curbs, etc. But I've seen some people specifically looking for steelies instead of alloy wheels, is it mainly a matter of cost or is there a reason for steel wheels instead of alloy wheels? I'm looking to possibly minus size down to a 16" wheel for next winter and am trying to figure out what kind of wheels to look for.
Seems Tire Rack suggests 16" steelies with Blizzacks but think I might go with the X-Ice instead. And after seeing the price difference between the steelies and alloys I think I see why people look for steelies for winter tires. More styles with alloy, but quite the price difference.
So, does my idea of Michelin X-Ice on 16" steelies seem like a good idea for next winter? (I do need to get a new set of all-seasons in spring to pass inspection, probably put them on when I get the money to ride out the last of winter.)
You're assumptions are correct. Steel wheels are much less expensive and, generally, more available. By going minus 1 or 2 you pick up more sidewall which is not a bad thing.
I think most people are less concerned with aesthetics in the winter and accept the look of a plain wheel as just a temporary issue needed to improve winter handling.
For what it's worth, I've had 2 sets of Blizzacks and had great luck with them. My guess is that any good winter tire will serve you well, especially when you get 4 of them.
Steel wheels are generally cheaper and can take a little more abuse. By minus sizing you get the taller tire which changes the shape of the tire footprint on the ground. Wide tires have a short wide footprint that helps them turn better while tall tires have the same size footprint but it is long and narrow. Tires that have a long narrow foot print have better traction because more of the tread side is in contact with the ground or the stuff laying on it. A tire with good edges will do a lot to get you through snow. On ice you need lots of little things piercing the layer of water that exists between the ice and the tire at temperatures between about 15 and 40 degrees. That is what the Blizzack has and why they are so good on ice. Once the temp is down around zero there isn't any layer of water and most snow tires are pretty much equal.
Also, if your state uses salt on the roads aluminum wheels will corrode over time and develop bead leaks. I highly recommend the Michelin x-ice over the blizzak for one reason. Longevity. The Michelin are the only snow tire to offer a mileage warranty, and they are rated for 40, 000 miles. Although most name brand snow tires perform similarly, I would not look at cheaper alternatives like cooper or master craft. They lack the micro siping like the Michelin and blizzak.
I have X-ice2 on 16" wheels on my wifes G6 and I have X-ice3 on 17" wheels on my malibu.
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