Bring on the snow and ice!

The summer in Vermont was wonderful and a great opportunity to use two of Nokian’s non-winter Products. I ran 20” Nokian Z SUVs (pictured) on the Audi Q7 and 17” Nokian eNTYRES on the Subaru Outback.

Both are truly excellent tires.The Nokian Z SUVs changed the already great handling Q7 into a sports car. The eNTYRES provided a quiet ride and improved fuel economy for the Subaru Outback.

But now is the time of year to take off the summer tires and put on the winters. I tend to be early to avoid the rush and getting caught with the wrong tires on during the first snow. I have each set mounted on separate rims with TPMS so the changeover can usually be done by any service station in 15 minutes.

Once the winters are on I pressure wash the summer tires and rims before storage. This way they will be clean and ready to go in spring. I also remove any pebbles stuck in the sipes. I then bag them, and put them in the overhead storage racks in my garage where they will sit until next season.

I am a huge believer in studded winter tires and although the unstudded Hakkapeliitta R2s were excellent last winter, there were a few times where I wished I had had studded winter tires. Studs are mechanical. They work the same on ice at above freezing or 20 below zero. No matter how great a studless tire is, rubber compounding alone cannot possibly offer the same performance.

The Subaru Outback will use the same Hakkapeliitta 7 SUVs that were used last year. This award winning tire was truly unbeatable last winter and nothing could top it.

Until now. For the Audi Q7 I am running the new Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV. The tire was already on the market last year in Europe and dominated every independent magazine test. Even with a dramatic increase in the amount of studs, including more on the center of the tire, the road impact has been minimized making for a quieter ride and less wear on the pavement.

The tires are mounted and I have driven about 250 miles on them. I have avoided hard acceleration and braking during the break in period to ensure the studs get properly seated (a suggestion from the installer).

While louder than my summer tires, they do not have the annoying highway whine of past studded tires.

This year I am commuting 80+ miles daily so I will get to know these tires really well. I am eager to see how they perform when the white stuff hits. Bring on the snow and ice!

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