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Slippery Roads

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Main Forum' started by Venturer, Jun 27, 2005.

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  1. Venturer

    Venturer New Member

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    This may seem a strange topic when it's 90 degrees, but I have to decide now. When I purchased our 05 Prius, I planned on selling our 02 Chrysler mini-van. That plan helped to justify the purchase. Now, my wife isn't sure she wants to part with her van because of how good it is on snow packed and icy roads in the winter. She's afraid that the Prius will not be as sure footed in the winter. If it isn't, I will have to buy another van then. You can see how all of my rationalizing and justification for the purchase is getting shaky. If I don't sell the van, there isn't enough fuel savings with the Prius to offset the cost of keeping a second vehicle that is only used in the winter.

    The question is, How does the Prius compare to other vehicles on winter roads?? We have replaced the OEM tires with Comfortreads, but I hate to drive to icy roads just to find out. Quite honestly, we aren't as impressed in the car as I thought we would be. It's fun to drive, although it's not as comfortable as our mini-van, and the mileage is really nice. We've had GPS for awhile so that's nothing new. At this point, I would like to give the Prius a year or so,(it only has 3000 miles on it), but I could sell either one and not feel bad about it. If I can convince my wife that she will like the way it will handle adverse winter roads, the mini-van will go. If not, there may be a low mileage Tideland with new tires and new window tinting for sale.

    Thanks, Doug
  2. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Doug:

    You haven't posted where you live, so I have no idea how long your winters last. Here in Winnipeg, they seem to last forever.

    I quickly found out that the standard Traction control is far too sensitive and cannot be easily disabled. Ice and deep snow became dangerous as when the light turned green, I could barely creep away at less than walking pace.

    The clincher was when I tried driving up a parking ramp at a mall and the car simply stopped on me. Other cars had made it no problem.

    Here in Manitoba you can run studded tires from Oct 30 to April 30, and I would have preferred Nokian studded tires or Cooper WeatherMaster studded tires. However, the condo where I live prohibits studded tires in the underground heated parking area.

    I got Dunlop Graspic DS/2 studless winter tires on their own steel rims, to make changeover as fast and painless as possible. It really was a day and night difference: the car will easily blow the doors off any 4x4 at a green light, and it will easily handle up to 12 inches of snow.

    Since I've had dedicated winter tires for every car and truck I've owned - at least in Snow Country - I don't mind doing this with the Prius. And I'm not sure if you gain anything with winter traction comparing a Chrysler minivan to a Prius.

    One thing I've noticed after a blizzard is a lot of them are upside down along the Trans Canada.

    Jay
  3. KTPhil

    KTPhil Active Member

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    Does anyone have the instructions handy for "maintenance mode" in which the TC is disabled, and the ICE rpm limited? That might do the trick if TC gets you stopped. You might make a sticker for the glovebox door with the instructions to keep them handy.
  4. Sufferin' Prius Envy

    Sufferin' Prius Envy Platinum Member

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    Venturer,

    You also didn’t mention what model Prius you have.

    Your sentence, “We've had GPS for awhile so that's nothing new†makes me believe you have a BC model, but you did not actually say you have a Prius with GPS. IF you do, then you have a BC model which comes with VSC (Vehicle Stability Control). The AM model also has VSC.

    I can tell you first hand that VSC works very well! I took our AM Prius skiing up in the Sierra near Lake Tahoe. The conditions were perfect for skiing, but the roads were marginal - but without chain controls. When I pulled off the plowed highway and onto the secondary road which climbs up to the resort, the road had a few inches of snow and was icy in some areas. I made it up the hill no problem. The traction control kicked in a few times. If you keep your momentum up, I think you can avoid most problems as mentioned by Jayman . . . although that may not always be possible.

    When I reached the parking area, I noticed that the further parking lot was empty and had several inches of fresh snow and ice. A perfect testing ground for VSC!!!! I gave it four or five really good tries to make the Prius fishtail. It just would not!!! Any other car would have spun-out of control on every one of my attempts. I/it maintained control on every attempt, and with factory tires!

    Something to think about when you make your decision.
  5. Venturer

    Venturer New Member

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    I should have mentioned that we are in WI. My wife wanted a casette player for her books on tape so we had to get the model with the GPS and Bluetooth phone. We only had to wait 2 1/2 weeks for it. I have only put on a couple hundred miles on it. The rest have been by her so I don't have much time behind the wheel. Wednesday, I'm buying a new service truck for my business and the dealer will take the mini-van in on trade if I want to. I've got a couple nights to sleep on it, and am encouraged by the comments so far.

    Doug
  6. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Sufferin' Prius Envy\";p=\"102191)</div>

    Patrick:

    That was my problem: the entrance to the parking ramp was almost a 90 degree turn off the parking lot, so it was impossible to approach it at more than 5 MPH.

    However, once I put the Dunlop Graspic DS-2 winter tires on, I even tried stopping halfway up that nasty parking ramp. No problems getting going again.

    If you have to deal with long winters with plenty of snow/ice, dedicated winter tires on steel rims are one of the best winter safety investments you'll make.

    Jay
  7. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Venturer\";p=\"102212)</div>

    Doug:

    I have relatives in Appleton, WI. That part of WI can get nasty winter weather too, though nowhere near as cold as Winnipeg.

    If you've never been to Winnipeg, just compare it to the "Ice box of the Nation" International Falls, MN. Nuff said.

    I don't think you're allowed to use studded winter tires in WI. WI also uses a lot of road salt in winter.

    So, one thing to keep in mind is that a good set of studless winter tires (Dunlop Graspic DS-2, Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50, etc) on cheap steel rims will save the nice aluminum factory wheels.

    I see plenty of OEM aluminum wheels around here that are badly etched and eroded due to the winter road salt.

    Jay
  8. Venturer

    Venturer New Member

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    I think I have come up with a solution for part of the winter. In the first part of January, I will park it in the garage, hook my Avalanche behind the motorhome and go to AZ for 2 months. That way, my wife only has to deal with a month or so of bad roads. It might not be a practical solution, but it will work for us.

    Doug
  9. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Doug:

    Oh sure, take the *easy* way out!

    Actually, if that really is your intention, why not just get a tow dolly for the motorhome and take the Prius with you? The Prius is 1/2 the weight, perhaps 1/3, of the Chevy Avalanche, so it will be easier for the motorhome to tow.

    It will also be much easier on fuel, so you can do a lot more exploring in AZ and even venture out to NV or UT.

    Jay
  10. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    Jayman:
    Wow! I have a ton of family in Appleton- I also grew up there. What part of town is your family in?

    Venturer:
    What part of WI are you in? I've lived a few places there. in fact, I just got home from a trip up there the other day.
  11. popoff

    popoff New Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jayman\";p=\"102556)</div>

    I've been looking for steel rims for my '05. I don't see them offered on Tirerack. All I see on Ebay are OEM alloys that usually sell for nearly $300 for a set of 4.

    Can you suggest a source of steel rims to fit the Prius?
  12. Marlin

    Marlin New Member

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    The dealer I bought my prius from offers free winter tire storage for their customers. I don't know if or what they charge for swapping them, but there's a good chance that is free too. They seem to offer a lot of discounts and free services to the customers that bought a car from them. For example, they offer free state inspections (typically a $50 cost) to their customers for any car they own, not just the one bought from the dealer.
  13. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(galaxee\";p=\"102995)</div>

    E Pershing St. Though not for much longer. My Uncle recently passed away and my Aunt is starting the process of selling the home and moving into a condo, perhaps in the Twin Cities area. Her children - my cousins - live there.
  14. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(popoff\";p=\"103013)</div>

    The steel rim from a Matrix or Corolla should fit. My local dealer went to a Winnipeg wheel shop and found dual-pattern wheels that fit the Matrix. Not very expensive - just black steel - but they work.

    There isn't anything exotic about the Prius stud pattern or offset.
  15. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    Jayman:
    Sure, I know that area well. A good high school friend's parents live right on that street. I was there almost every day back then.
    Sorry to hear about your uncle, by the way.

    Funny what a small world it is.
  16. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(galaxee\";p=\"103137)</div>

    He was ill for a long time, so it's for the best. And it will also be for the best that my Aunt - my Mom's sister - is moving to the Twin Cities to be near her children and grandchildren. No sense being in that empty house all by herself.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(galaxee\";p=\"103137)</div>

    That's by design. The world is actually a lot smaller than most of us realize, thanks to easy mobility.

    As an example, when I was with Honeywell and there was a major expansion of the paper mill in Dryden, Ontario, back in 1988. I got quite chummy with some folks. I got to know some favorite local hunting and fishing spots.

    Imagine my surprise around 6 years later when I was at an RV show at the Salt Palace in SLC, UT. I happened to strike up a conversation with a pleasant oldster and casually mentioned an area he might like to drive his RV to for the summer.

    He knew not only the Dryden area, but the Red Lake, Kenora, and especially Nestor Falls and Rushing River Provincial Park area FAR better than I did!

    Yep, small world.
  17. sailorkid

    sailorkid New Member

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    Jayman,
    I live in Salt Lake City and commute daily to Park City. on a snow/ice packed interstate...
    You mentioned your preference for the studded snow tires, but basically sound very happy with the studless... is there a major difference? ie how do the studless do on ice.....? is there a huge amount of road noise/vibration?
    thanks,
    steve
  18. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Steve:

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(sailorkid\";p=\"103166)</div>

    Yeah the Summit on I-80 is no picnic when it's snowing, is it? I also had plenty of scares at the lights by the Chevron at Kimball Junction. Is that Chevron still there?

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(sailorkid\";p=\"103166)</div>

    Remember I have to run studless, as even though in Manitoba you're allowed to use studded tires, the condo I live in has heated underground parking. They sealed the floor with a special epoxy and prohibit studded tires.

    I would have very much prefered Nokian Hakkapeliitta 2's which I have used before. They offer exceptional grip on ice and snow.

    My Dunlop Graspic DS-2's are a bit easier to live with on dry pavement, as you won't hear the pitter-patter of studs hitting the road. I would guess the ice traction is about 1/2 to 2/3 that of a Nokian studded tire. On fresh snow, equal traction.

    The treads on the Graspic are very soft and squishy, so expect to lose cornering response and steering feel. The sidewalls are also a lot softer than the Michelin Harmony all season tires I usually run..

    On wet roads, common after a warm snowfall or the Spring melt, the Graspic works very well. The tread has good water groves and is heavily siped.

    Remember that any studless tire (Dunlop Graspic DS-2, Bridgestone Blizzak, etc) will wear quickly if driven on bare pavement, especially in temps over 40 F.

    That's why I keep my Graspic tires on their own steel rims. Not only to protect my aluminum rims from road salt, but to make changing over very quick and relatively easy.

    Hope this helps.

    Jay
  19. Venturer

    Venturer New Member

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    Jay, I looked into a tandem dolly that would let us carry our Trike in front of the Prius. The problem is that the exploring we like to do is off road and requires 4 wheel drive. We'll carry a motorcycle on the back and pull the Avalanche. It is heavier and I can tell it, but it doesn't seem to effect the mileage much. I seem to get 8.75 mpg no matter how I drive or what I pull. It is quite a difference to put 70 gallons of fuel into it at the end of the day instead of 11 gal. into the Prius for the same trip, but the Prius doesn't have a bathroom, kitchen, and bed.

    Galaxee, I live in Plover and our business is in Plainfield.

    Doug
  20. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    Ahh, we were in Plover last week Wednesday. :) Can't say I've lived there though. Just drove through on occasion.
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