Posted by Andrew on January 27, 1999 at 14:13:30:
In Reply to: winter tires posted by Chris Jones on January 02, 1999 at 20:18:13:
Up here in Alberta the winters are treacherous. I live outside of Calgary and the county is never too quick to plow and sand the roads in winter. One winter, before I had snow tires, I was caught outside of town after a freezing rain in the late fall. All I had on the car were the dreadful TRX's. The highway was sheer ice and I was doing about 35-40 mph. I pulled out to pass a stock trailer (you know for the fifth wheel kind that pulls behind a 1/2 ton). As soon as I was about 5 car lengths in front of the truck my car started sliding sideways infront of him. The momentum was taking me toward the right side ditch. I managed to recover and get the car pointed forward on the gravel shoulder, but there was still some momentum sucking me into the ditch. Rather than going for a full recovery and pulling back in front of the truck and trailer, risking certain collision, I let the car continue into the ditch. It was a nice sloping ditch that I could've driven out of any other time of year but by this time there was about 4 inches of snow in the ditch and by the time I came to a stop I couldn't get enough momentum to get back onto the roadway and just spun in the ditch until a big old 4x4 pulled me out.
For the last three winters I've been running Nokia NRW's 185/70 R14. I've commuted 150 miles a day to work and I've been satisfied with their performance. I'm thinking of replacing them next winter and going to a 15" wheel and larger tire for additional undercarriage clearance and studs! I'm also considering a blocked tread pattern vs a V shape pattern of the NRW. A blocked pattern similiar to the first Blizzak I think is key for staight line stop and go traction. Nokia has a new tire and light weight stud out just this winter. You have to be careful with studded tires and make sure they're acceptable in your area. Some states/provinces only allow studded tires from Oct-Apr or Nov-Mar. Here in Alberta there are no restrictions due to high mountain passes. Its not rare to see snow in July up there.
It's very necessary to ballast our E28's. I use about 100 lbs (sand in two bags) placed behind the main drive wheel, passenger side, as far back from the wheel as possible. This leverages the weight onto the wheel, you know, physics. I'm experimenting with ballast in and around the spare tire as well. This will put the weight lower in the car, take up less trunk space, the only downside is that it moves the weight away from the main drive wheel. It also means using smaller bags for the ballast.
This doesn't tranform my 533i into a snow-cat but it does make it a much more predictable, safer and reliable piece of winter transportation.