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Mon Dec 05, 2005
I finally got around to swapping one set of our snow tires onto Claire's Golf (that's the black one) tonight. Yesterday we had our first real accumulation of snow, so I figured it was time. I normally like to get them on before the first snow, though - so they're a little late this year. I still have to put our other set of snow tires on my blue Golf - maybe tomorrow night.

All season tires are fine and all, but a good set of snow tires just makes an unbelievable difference. This is the 3rd year I've been running snow tires in the winter, and so far I have used only Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50s. Out of all the reviews I read, they seemed to get the most praise, so I bought one set to use on the Jetta I used to drive then (the red 95 Jetta that we still own and use as a spare vehicle). When choosing a size for your snow tires, in general you want to go skinnier than the standard tire size for your vehicle. In my case, the stock tire size was 185/60-14 (185 is the width in millimeters, 60 is the percentage of the width that makes up the sidewall height, and 14 is the diameter of the wheel they are designed to fit, in inches) so I went for 175/65-14. A narrower tire gives you an advantage in snow and slush, because it cuts through with less of a "plowing" effect. I would have liked to go for a 165 width tire, but the Blizzak WS-50 does not seem to be available in that width on a 14 inch rim.

My first season with those Blizzaks was phenominal. I was so impressed with them, in fact, that when I bought my blue Golf I bought another set. That set came from a user on VWVortex who was moving from Pennsylvania to Florida and had only used them for one season. These Blizzaks were 195/60-14, which is actually one size wider than the factory width. That really didn't seem to make much of a difference, though. I am hooked on these things. Even on wet ice, these tires somehow manage to find grip. Bridgestone says they use a special compound on these tires that give them ice traction equivalent to studded snow tires, and I believe it. The only gotcha is that once the tread wears down to 45%, the "special" compound is gone and all that remains is tread made of standard winter tire compound.

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