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You can almost always "get by" with all season tires in upstate New York. Goodness knows, I've driven front wheel drive rental cars with all season tires from Albany up to Gore Mountain and White Face at Lake Placid in the middle of Winter and survived -- only I didn't happen to encounter any really serious snow storms and the highways were pretty clear.

Real snow tires (with the mountain/snowflake certification logo on the sidewall) add a level of comfort and security which is hard to fathom by those who haven't used them in snow conditions.

Here in Kansas where we don't get nearly as much snow as in upstate New York, we use all season tires on my wife's front wheel drive Camry (with TRAC) since she has a fairly short drive to work. On really bad snowy days, I take her to work in my rear wheel drive LS that has heavy duty snow tires on it. My rear wheel drive LS with Blizzak snow tires does far better in snow than her front wheel drive Camry with all season tires. I suspect if we put real (mountain/snowflake logo) snow tires on her Camry, it would do better than my LS with snow tires.

It's really a matter of how comfortable and secure you like to be when the weather is really bad and how much risk you like to take. With real snow tires, I feel sort of "bulletproof" in my LS and my main goal is to avoid running into the out of control "idiots" with all season tires.

I suggest that you just try one set of really good heavy duty snow tires. I think you will be amazed at how much better they are than all season tires.

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  • 3 months later...

If you want the best available traction, I suggest 4 dedicated 'Winter tires' (snow tires have pretty much gone the way of the Dodo). I run Toyo Garit KX winters in 215 55 17 on my 05 ES & the difference they make is huge. There are several good choices available in the size you need. More info here...

http://www.apa.ca/template.asp?DocID=97

and here...

http://www.apa.ca/template.asp?DocID=298

You will notice the Toyo Garit KX on the list has a 5 out of 5 star rating (5 being the best) and they are one of the most reasonably priced choices available...plus they are very durable due to their tread compound with ground walnut shells built into the tread.

:cheers:

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Hi,

If you live in a region that gets any bit of snow or more importantly where the temperature often dips below freezing you should definitely get winter tires. Everything I read about winter tires says that you should go down at least one wheel size and go at least 25mm narrower (to cut through the snow and slush). I have a base 08 ES and the standard wheels are 17". Lexus doesn't offer anything smaller (i.e. 16") and Toyota's 16" steel wheels don't accommodate the tire pressure monitoring sensors (according to the dealer). So the official recommendation from Toyota is to get another set of 17" alloys. (I bought a set of four on eBay for about $800, shipped from the US to my home in Canada.) Problem is, I wanted Micheling X-Ice tires and the only size I could get in 17" is the same size as the OEM all-seasons. In hindsight, that was a mistake because the tires are too wide. I've had X-Ice tires on my previous car and the Lexus doesn't feel well planted at all in the snow. I've plowed through many turns (at relatively slow speed) and that's not a good feeling.

My recommendation (just because I've seen them on the road): go with Camry 16" steel/alloy wheels and a set of top-notch winter tires: Blizzak, X-Ice, etc. Go to Tire Rack for reviews and customer comments.

Cheers,

Luc

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Hi,

If you live in a region that gets any bit of snow or more importantly where the temperature often dips below freezing you should definitely get winter tires. Everything I read about winter tires says that you should go down at least one wheel size and go at least 25mm narrower (to cut through the snow and slush). I have a base 08 ES and the standard wheels are 17". Lexus doesn't offer anything smaller (i.e. 16") and Toyota's 16" steel wheels don't accommodate the tire pressure monitoring sensors (according to the dealer). So the official recommendation from Toyota is to get another set of 17" alloys. (I bought a set of four on eBay for about $800, shipped from the US to my home in Canada.) Problem is, I wanted Micheling X-Ice tires and the only size I could get in 17" is the same size as the OEM all-seasons. In hindsight, that was a mistake because the tires are too wide. I've had X-Ice tires on my previous car and the Lexus doesn't feel well planted at all in the snow. I've plowed through many turns (at relatively slow speed) and that's not a good feeling.

My recommendation (just because I've seen them on the road): go with Camry 16" steel/alloy wheels and a set of top-notch winter tires: Blizzak, X-Ice, etc. Go to Tire Rack for reviews and customer comments.

Cheers,

Luc

I disagree to some extent...I have a set of Toyo Garit KX winters in the OE size (215 55 17, H speed rated) on a seperate set of Lexus alloys & they are just awesome in the snow (they are rated a fair bit higher than the Michelins in overall traction & have a deeper tread depth which will make them last longer...see the above links I posted)...I could have went with a 215 60 16 size which would have been fine (but T speed rated), but I don't have any less traction performance with the OE size...in fact they handle the corners better because they are H rated. B)

Don't forget most winter tires have a much lower speed rating (Q & T compared to H & V) and makes the tire feel squishy in the corners as the rubber compound is much softer.

Do you have the original Z-Ice or the next generation X-i2?

The TPMS is a moot point too...even with that feature one should always have a digital tire pressure gauge in their vehicles regardless.

:cheers:

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I have the X-i2, which I got based on my favourable experience with the first generation X-Ice on my previous car. To be honest with you I don't remember to what extent I researched other brands. Also, at some point I read a review of the X-i2 which concluded that the second generation wasn't as good as the first. I only drive about 8000 miles a year so I won't be getting any replacement winters any time soon. But when I do I have to assume that the tire landscape will be very different.

Luc

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I run Blizzaks on my 07 in NH and never have any problems getting around. Now if they only had thought to add a switch to turn of the traction control.

Not sure which model year you have, and they may have taken the option away in subsequent years, but on my 2007 ES350, you CAN turn off the traction control. The switch is a push button underneath the steering wheel; way under the dash, the one on the right, next to the Headlight Swivel (or whatever you call it) on/off switch. Just push it and a light will come on in the speedo cluster that the traction control is off.

I'm probably like a lot of people on here...grew up driving a stick in the snow. It's hard enough to get used to an automatic in the snow, but I definitely DO NOT like the traction control in the snow. I want to FEEL every little spin and slide. Then I'LL decide what corrective action to take. There's a reason that most all 4WD off roaders, race car drivers etc drive a stick instead of an automatic. It's all about the feel. The way I see it, I KNOW how to drive in the snow and when I push the gas, I want power, not the retarding of the engine and transmission. I regard Traction Control like I do all the little wizards in the later versions of Microsoft Windows that pop up endlessly to help out the less experienced. I've been a computer user for 20 years and I KNOW how to work it. Just leave me alone...if I need help, I'll ask. I wish there was an 'off' switch for the Wizards in Windows like there is on my ES...

I've been driving cars with traction control for the past 18 years (Volvo S70 and a Nissan Maxima) and I can honestly say traction control has absolutely never prevented, saved, aided, helped or in any way, protected me from myself. I'm not sure why we have it, although I expect some of ya'll will let me know :D

Just my 2 pence...

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I've been driving cars with traction control for the past 18 years (Volvo S70 and a Nissan Maxima) and I can honestly say traction control has absolutely never prevented, saved, aided, helped or in any way, protected me from myself. I'm not sure why we have it, although I expect some of ya'll will let me know :D

OK, I'll volunteer to let you know. ;)

Traction control is for the 95% of the population who are not experts at driving on snow, ice and streets made slick by rain and dust.

I agree, driving either a front or wear wheel drive car with a manual transmission in the snow can be great fun. My "ski car" was a manual shift front wheel drive 1985 Honda CRX Si -- without ABS or TRAC -- I used almost exclusively to zoom to and from Colorado ski areas during the five years I had it. I didn't even have snow tires on it. It was so light, I could open the drivers door and push it by myself if I got stuck. Even the manual transmission VW Beetle I drove back in the 1960s when I visited my sister in Marquette Michigan was great fun to drive in the incredibly snowy winters they had up there.

My opinion is that small cars are a lot easier to drive in snow and that small cars with lower power are the easiest to drive. I didn't have TRAC on my first Lexus but I sure like it on my current one. 290 horsepower and lots of torque make it way harder the feather the thottle than on a car with lower power engine.

My wife's Camry has exactly the same TRAC system that was on the ES of the same model year. She won't be reading this forum so I'll say that she is a rather scary driver -- to her a car is akin to a refrigerator ... just an applicance. The concept of feathering the throttle to keep from spinning her wheels is something I don't think she could learn -- really I'm not exaggerating.

So ... turn off your TRAC and enjoy your car. You are an exception.

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The owner's manual for my 08 ES doesn't mention any switch to turn off traction control. My car was manufactured to CDN specs. In response to some of the comments above, I would never think of wanting stability / traction control turned off once under way. Having these things off in deep snow is usually preferable. Other cars I've had automatically turn the controls back on once you exceed a certain speed, which is great.

Luc

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I put a set of Mich Pilot Alpin winter tires on in December... best investment yet in the ES! Here in Pittsburgh we've been buried in snow all winter... amazing traction actually.. the only problem I've had is ice... the traction control on this car just sucks, retards the engine output to zero as your trying to go up a hill....Next big storm I'm using the brake pedal/ emerg brake pedal procedure to turn the darn TC off!.

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  • 1 month later...

I put a set of Mich Pilot Alpin winter tires on in December... best investment yet in the ES! Here in Pittsburgh we've been buried in snow all winter... amazing traction actually.. the only problem I've had is ice... the traction control on this car just sucks, retards the engine output to zero as your trying to go up a hill....Next big storm I'm using the brake pedal/ emerg brake pedal procedure to turn the darn TC off!.

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sorry, I've been off line for a short while and did not see your post..

Uphill is my driveway.... it is pretty steep and fairly long, and the usual non 4WD method for getting up the drive when there is snow/ ice is to get a running start and gun it/ spin the tires... the traction control cuts the gas to the point where the wheels will actually stop moving, even while you continue to hold the gas pedal down and I have actually slid backwards ... not a good thing.... have been using the run and gun method for a lot of both front and rear wheel drive cars, a common practice here "in the Burgh"... has always worked like a charm LOL. Also have a very, very long steep hill as one of the ways to get into/ out of my neighborhood... traction control would not let me get up that hill twice this winter... even my old Lincoln Town Car (our van when the kids were little) would turn off the traction control when you shifted out of drive...

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