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Snow Tires

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The FAQ is broken up as follows:

    Where this information came from, how to get in (or remove) your 2 cents, 
    how to get mistakes corrected...

General snow tire info:
    Tire sizes & compounds, two sets of wheels vs one, how many tires to buy...

Comments from SAAB list members on specific brands and models:
    Pirelli P8
    Goodyear NCT/NGT
    Gislaved Frost
    Bridgestone Blizzak
    Michelin M&S
    Semperit Top Grip
    (Nokia) Hakkapelitta 10
    Nokia NRW
    Kleber M+S
    Toyo Observe

Sources of tires:
    SAAB list member's experiences with various mail order outfits.


Additional Information:
    Where else to look if you just haven't got your fill...

---------- Introduction -------------------------------------------------------

The content of this FAQ culled from postings to the SAAB Network, and where
the poster's identity was readily available, it's mentioned.  So, instead
of definitive answer, it's a lot of people's opinions, and I just act as a
lowly editor.  So, if you came here looking for the definitive answer, the
closest you'll probably get is "Buy Nokia Hakka 10's and mount them on
their own set of steel wheels.  If you're going to mail order them, call
Pat Greer."

If you see something here that you wrote but is not attributed properly, or
if I cite you and you don't want to be cited, send me mail (Larry Strollo, and I'll fix it.  Likewise, if you have
clarifications or corrections, send me mail and I'll fix it.  If you have
more to say about snow tires, you can mail to me if you want, but it's a
better idea to post to the SAAB Network.  I'll pick up the posts and graft
them into here when I get the time.  Maybe someday I'll make this into a
real web page.

Neither I nor The Eastman Kodak Co. assumes responsibility for the accuracy
of the information contained here.

Having said all that...

---------- General snow tire info ------------------------------------------

From Tim Winker (
Just because a tire manufacturer rates its tires as M+S (M+S == Mud and
Snow) does not mean they will be good, only adequate, and I question that

If you live in an area that gets snow regularly, put snow tires on all four
wheels, and the narrower the tread the better.  60-series tires try to ride
up on the snow, while 75- or 80-series will dig down into the snow.

In addition to propelling and steering, the tires on the car are in charge
of braking.  It is also important for the anti-lock brakes to recognize that
all tires are moving at the same speed.  Tires of slightly different
diameters may be measured as slip at the ABS sensor and/or traction control
sensor and the computer will react accordingly, the end result being poor
performance.  In addition, snow tires and regular tires may have different
roll rates, making the cornering feel sloppy.  Four snow tires give the car
the proper balance.  In the long run, it is no more expensive to run two
sets of tires.  The four summer tires can wear as a set, provided you rotate
them back to front every year.

If you will be changing over every season, have the tires mounted on a
separate set of wheels. It is easier on the tires as they don't have to be
mounted, dismounted and balanced every year, and it becomes a job you can do
in the driveway as all you need to do is swap the four wheel/tire assemblies
prior to the winter and summer seasons.

When dealing with snow, tall and narrow are the best ways to go. I use
185SR15 Hakkas on my 1985 900. If you live in snow country, I would
recommend snow tires, with a maximum width of 185/65SR15 on a separate set
of steel wheels. If you live in an area that only sees some snow, a wider
aspect ratio tire would be acceptable, as would an all season tire.

From Ed ?:

I've read that the huge open areas and very deep tread on classic snow tires
(like my father used to have) are really best for fresh, deep snow.  Since
you're in Michigan, that might be good for you, but most of my snow driving
(in NJ) is on stuff others have already packed down.

From Dana Cartwright:

If you want long life in your snow tires, go to Sears and get RoadHandlers.
No traction, but the rubber is really hard and they are guaranteed for long
mileage.  If you want traction, get soft rubber (hydrophilic) and pay the
price.  I don't think there's any magic here, just life's usual tradeoffs.

My experience from ice racing is that wider isn't better when it comes to
driving in the snow.  I've had my best successes on relatively narrow
tires....I'm willing to speculate that when driving in soft stuff like sand
or snow, pushing the stuff up in front of the tire is a problem, which is
reduced when using a narrow tire, but that's just speculation.

---------- Comments on specific brands and models --------------------------
Editor's Note: If anyone knows of any of the makes/models list below that
aren't available anymore, please let me know so I can update this.

Pirelli P8:
  From Ed ?:

    My local tire dealer, who seems to be pretty knowledgeable, told me that
    the P8 tread design (lots of small rubber regions surrounded by narrow,
    shallow open areas) is pretty good for traction on packed snow.  The
    tire isn't narrow enough to bite through a deep snow like a snow tire,
    but it gets a reasonable grip because of the tread pattern.  It has been
    my experience that this is true.

    The P8's real shortcoming, in my experience, is on wet roads.  This is
    especially true when they are worn a bit, since then there's really
    nowhere for the water to go.

Goodyear NCT/NGT
  From Ed ?

    I have a set of Goodyear NCTs (or is it NGTs) that are much much
    better (than P8's) in the wet and somewhat better on dry roads.

Gislaved Frost:
  From Andy Cassino (

    I have a set of 4 Gislaved Frosts (185/65's) that I run in the winter.
    (Not studded).  Not only are they superb rain tires, they really get
    around in the snow. As a former Michigander, Illinian and Coloradean, I
    can testify that the snow and ice we get here in the Northwest is some
    of the sloppiest, gummiest, hardest stuff to drive in that exists! And
    the Gislaveds handle it. I might add, they are fine on the highway,
    handling is not as good as the P8's and they are noisier - but quite
    tolerable on a long trip.

  From ?

    I'm not sure who has Gislaveds now (I used to get them from Euro-Tire),
    but I'll repeat what I've said before to this group.  I've had a fairly
    large number of Gislaveds on 900's and 96's, and I've found them
    terribly unreliable.  Essentially all of them died from broken belts
    (like, you run your hands over the tread and your hand starts bleeding
    because of all the little wires sticking out of the tread).  I've
    learned my lesson and run Klebers, with which I'm much happier.  But
    other people have reported on other really good snows in this group also
    (some domestic, some imported) I'll just put in a strong
    recommendation against Gislaved M+S tires, and suggest polling this
    group for a better idea......grist for a FAQ!

  From Larry Strollo ( 

    I've run Gislaved M+S's on this SAAB (86 9000T), and my last SAAB (78
    99), for a total of about ten years of Western NY winters.

    While I won't spout evangelism about how great they are, I certainly
    found them capable, and definitely would not agree with the stated
    opinion that they are "terribly unreliable".

    The only thing I can say against them is that their tread is not as
    aggressive as their competitors (and for some drivers, this may even be a
    positive point).

  From Tom Reingold:

    I had a set of Gislaved tires.  I'm not a tire expert but I was
    impressed with the way they didn't give me very bad handling.  I
    occasionally drove them at 80 MPH on dry roads and felt secure.  Was I
    nuts?  I understand that the Bridgestone and Nokia tires are better but
    I just wanted to say this about the first set of snow tires I ever used.

    Since the tread basically goes across the tires instead of along them,
    they were terrible in rain.  But that's a price I expected to pay for
    security on snow and ice which the Gislaved tires did give me.

  From Lee ?

    I've used Gislaved snows for the past 15 years but recently switched to
    Nokia Hakka 10s. They are better than the Gislaveds in the snow, but not
    as good on dry roads.

  From Steve Goldberger (

    I have driven on both, and the the Hakkapeliitas are MUCH better on
    snow, although the Gislaved gets the nod on dry pavement.

  From Suwathin Phiansunthon (

    I ran 4 Gislaved Frosts (175/70HR15, 1985 vintage) on my 900 for 9
    winters (approx. 4 months/winter). The tread depth wasn't much the last
    winter, but my car and I survived the 17 storms that hit New Jersey. The
    set remained well-balanced throughout its use (~60K mi., somewhat past
    its life).

    The tires were squishy, but one adapts, I suppose. The tradeoff for the
    very noisy ride was the great bite on the snow the first few winters in
    Massachusetts. Dry braking sucks big time!

    Based on my experience and needs, I'm willing to try something else that
    will not compromise dry handling as much. The Gislaveds were okay if one
    had to drive on snow every day of the winter.

  From ?

    I've used both Gislaveds and Klebers over the years on 99's and 900's,
    and I like them.  I typically "half stud" them, by which I mean only
    putting studs in half the holes, and I put the studded snows on all four
    corners of the car.

    I don't have a long commute to work, so I'm not confident about the
    mileage I get, but I've never yet worn out a set......they age (and get
    hard and lose their grip) before they wear out in the tread.  But they
    are both quite soft rubber.


    I had a set of "Gislaved" tires on the car.  The "Gislaved" tires were
    pretty good, but they were quite a bit noisier than the Nokias on dry
    roads.  They also did not inspire the same type of "confidence" I get
    from driving on the Nokia tires.

Bridgestone Blizzak
  From Suwathin Phiansunthon (s.phiansucom)?

    Our other car, a RWD, has 4 Blizzaks; they are quieter than the OEM

  From Scott Chapman (

    The Blizzaks (this is a new set for my new car) are wonderful. They are
    not overly aggressive such that they make highway driving unpleasant,
    but they do have terrific snow traction (they are one of the best tires
    you can buy for driving on ice). I think there was an article in
    Automobile magazine last year about them, and they were rated *very*

  From Pavneet Arora (

    The current rage in Canada seems to be the Blizzaks which are often sold
    out early in the winter season.  They are apparently made of unique
    compound that makes them *stick* better.  The flipside is that our tire
    shop owner, who we have gone to for years and seems pretty trustworthy,
    says that a lot of people complain of premature wear with these tires.
    Essentially, as soon as the snow if off the ground get them off the car
    and store them in a dark place.  I wasn't so keen on this type of tire.

  From richard welty (

    The Blizzak magic is accomplished with a very soft rubber.  it may not
    last very long in hard service.

  From Tim Winker/SAAB Club (

    I had the opportunity to see a pair of 195/60x15 Bridgestone Blizzaks
    that have been on the front of a SAAB 900 for the past 11 months, about
    20-25,000 miles.  They were worn down well into the wear bars, one was
    near bald.

  From Parris Wellman (
    I have an '88 9000T which I run Bridgestone Blizzaks on.  They
    are fantastic.
Michelin M&S studded:
  From Andy Cassino (
    A mistake. Only the studs saved them!

  From Andy Cassino (
    So-so, better than regular tires but definitely not a real snow tire.

Vredestein M&S (studded):
  From Andy Cassino ( 
    WONDERFUL - they may even be better than the Gislaveds.

Semperit Top-grips
  From ?

    A couple of years ago I got a set of 4 Semperit Top-grips. Traction was
    great, but they wore incredibly fast - I don't think I got more than 10
    or 12 thousand miles on them. They wore fastest right down the center -
    the tire store told me they must have been overinflated, but I don't
    believe that - I've seen other Semperit snows wear the same way.

Hakkapellita NR10:
  From Dave Hinz:

    In my considered opinion, there is NO snow tire better than the Nokia
    Haakepellita (sp?) NR10.  These beasties are made in Finland, where they
    know what snow IS.  It's a directional tread snow tire, and it handles
    quite well on dry pavement as well.  E-mail me for a dealer in the
    Wisconsin area who will UPS to you...I don't work for him, I just buy
    tires from him.

    By the way, these tires are used by about 95% of the ice racers up here.
    They can be studded or not, depending on your state's laws....we use the
    un-studded on our lakes, and these things are absolutely fantastic.
    Ever go 35 MPH on glare ice, under control?  It's a blast.

  From Lee ?

    I've used Gislaved snows for the past 15 years but recently switched to
    Nokia Hakka 10s. They are better than the Gislaveds in the snow, but not
    as good on dry roads.

  From ?

    The trip back to Seattle on slushy roads took two to three hours longer
    (I'm sure) than if I had the Nokias on both front corners.  A few
    minutes in snow on Nokias will convince anyone! If you don't buy them
    for ultimate safety for snow driving, then I must remind you that
    Natural Selection is working and you are "on the list".

  From Tim Winker (

    My Turbo - a.k.a. The Winter Beater Mk. II - has 185x15 Nokias mounted
    on painted EMS alloys.  Note that there is no series after the 185.
    They are in the 75-80 aspect ratio.  They also provide about an extra
    inch of ground clearance.  All of my Saabs get Nokia snow tires for
    winter use and the only time I have a problem is when the weather is so
    bad that the snow plows wait it out at the county garage.

    In my experience, the Nokias last closer to 40,000 miles, even when
    driven all year round.  There are several people in Duluth who leave the
    Hakkas on because they like the better wet traction with the deep
    grooves.  I can get three seasons on a set of Nokias, about 50,000

  From Chuck Johnson  (CHJOHREMNET.AB.COM)

    I have a '86 VOLVO 240 DL that I run NOKIA H-10's on in the
    winter. (four) I ran them over I-80 from Milwaukee to the Breckenridge
    Colorado area last Dec.

    We encountered about 350 miles of black ice on I-80- from Eastern Iowa
    to mid Nebraska.  Result: One slip on a bridge at 70MPH with a stiff
    cross wind.  The break away was for less than one second and only gave
    me the realization after the fact of what had happened.  No loss of
    control only a slight sensation of wheel spin and grab.  My wife
    (normally frozen to the wheel in ice or snow) drove for about 250 miles
    of the black ice section with no problems at all. (approx 50-65MPH).

    Snow performance: I can drive the Volvo in 2 inches of snow as if it is
    on a dry road.  Over 2 inches is no problem at all.  Little slip or
    slide and very good steering control.

    Dry road performance: The HAKKA 10's are not as stable as normal 'dry
    weather' tires, (Michelin MXL's), but are very predictable once you get
    used them.  They seem to have a soft feel to them and this causes a kind
    of delay in the reaction of the car when maneuvering normally.  Emergency
    moves are no problem and there is never any feel of loss of control.

    Conclusion: If you drive in the winter.  Don't leave home without them.

  From richard welty (

    Get the Nokias


    I have used Nokia Hakkapelitta winter tires on my SAAB 900 Turbo for
    the past two winters and have never encountered problems with them.  In
    the winter I have found the Nokias to be excellent in deep snow, dry, or
    slushy conditions and have not experienced the "squirmy" feeling
    described by the Tire Rack salesperson.  On sheer ice I feel that one
    must drive with caution, no matter what tires you are driving on, but I
    have negotiated unexpected patches of ice on the road without problems
    (just don't hit the brakes and lock up).

  From Steve Goldberger (

    I have driven on both, and the the Hakkapeliitas are MUCH better on
    snow, although the Gislaved gets the nod on dry pavement.

Nokia NRW:

  From Eric Woo (

    I have four Nokia NRW M+S 195/65R15 on my 1993 9000 CSE and the ride is
    comparable to all season tires.  Very high speed rating too, up to
    210km/h or 130 MPH.  The NRWs cannot be studded but they have excellent
    traction in the wet and in the snow.  Much better than the Pirelli
    Winter 190 I used to have.  Very quiet and smooth on the highway.  No
    complaints yet.

  From Chuck Johnson  (CHJOHREMNET.AB.COM)
    My son-in-law has a SAAB 900 with NOKIA NRWs. (four)

    I have not driven the car, however he has had no problem and only states
    that they have less side to side stability than the NOKIA H-9's that he
    had on an older VOLVO.  He states that the NRWs are quieter than the
    HAKKA 9's or 10's on dry pavement.

    We are both in the Milwaukee area so we get it all, rain, ice, snow,
    sleet, freezing rain,..

Kleber M+S
  From Dana Cartwright 

    We get 160" of snow here in our better winters, and last winter (for
    example) I was 20 minutes late to work ONE day, driving a 900T on
    Klebers.  So I really "go in the snow."  Those were 165R15 Kleber M+S.

    I studded them myself (boring, but not hard) and mounted them on a
    friend's tire machine.  Looking at them, they don't look much different
    than when I bought them.  Still lots of fresh deep tread.

Toyo Observe:
  From Christopher T. Nawrocki 

    I use the Toyo "Observe" studless snow tires on my '88 900 SPG and, thus
    far, have been quite happy with them.  We do not get the snow and ice
    here in Portland, Oregon like Massachusetts but the little I have been
    in they have worked admirably.  Couple of other notes:

    I have not had any balance or vibration problems with the Toyo Observes.
    They _will_ destroy any semblance of handling the car might have had.
    The first year I bought them I switched from my H-rated performance
    tires to these and almost did not make it through the first corner!  Be
    cautious when you switch over

---------- Sources of tires ------------------------------------------------

Editor's Note: Places go in an out of business all the time.  Pick up one of
the popular car rags (C&D, R&T, Autoweek...)  and check out the ads.  Even
better yet, patronize the advertisers in NINES.  And don't dismiss local
merchants - you can talk to them face to face, see their shops, see the
tires, build a good relationship with them, give them a chance to come close
to mail order prices, take the tires back if there's problems.  The
mre presence of a firm in this list should not be taken as a recommendation
to buy from them.

Euro-Tire 1-800-631-0080  
  From Andy Cassino ( 
    They have package prices on tires mounted and balance on wheels - ready
    to go! They carry Gislaved & Vredestein, last I checked. Prices are
    good. Order snows early... they backorder every year.

  From Dana Cartwright:
    Year in and year out, I like Eurotire the best of the mail-order houses.
    Order them on Monday and you'll have them by the weekend, probably by

Updated 9/21/99
1909 S. 74th Street
West Allis, WI 53219
Phone: (414) 545-2296

Nokia Tires

  From Lee ?
    Pat Greer has sold me two sets of tires over the past two years and is a
    delight to work with.

  From richard welty (
    Order from pat greer.

  From Thor Carlson (
    Pat Greer is a tire dealer, antique SAAB nut and nice guy.

Tire Buying Service
Elmsford NY

Tire Rack 

G&G Service
4073 Hubertus Road
Hubertus, WI  53033
Hakkapelitta snow tires

Swedish Car Spares (for among other things, wheels)
Call Ricky or Lee at 800-241-1916 and mention The SAAB Network when

  From Wayne Crisci (
    They have steel wheels as well as alloy wheels that are straight but are
    cosmetically bad (scratches or rust). They will sell the alloys at a
    discount just to get rid of them.

Discount Tire Direct 
(1 800-739-8999)

  From Steve Hess (
    Carries the Gislaved.

---------- Studding --------------------------------------------------------

From Dana Cartwright

Anybody else on this list stud their own?  I'm using Miba studs (made in
Austria) which hold up well....they outlast the tires, actually.  I hear
rumors of cheap studs made entirely of steel, but I've never seen any.  The
Miba's have an outer jacket which looks to be made of a hard aluminum alloy,
wrapped around a very hard inner core...the jacket wears down but the core
doesn't, so they stay very very sharp...and last a long time.

From Christopher T. Nawrocki

I truly prefer the studless tires to the studded.  These are quite, behave
well in rain, offer excellent traction and do not destroy the roads.

---------- Where to look for Additional Information -----------------------

Every fall, there will inevitably be several threads in the various* newsgroups regarding snow tires.  Check it out for the latest
info.  There may even be another FAQ...

Car and Driver, Autoweek, Road & Track, and yes, Consumer Reports
periodically (seasonally ?) evaluate snow tires.

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