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Seek high-traction treads for minivans

Published February 21, 2013

Q: I am looking for the right tire for my 2006 Honda Odyssey. We had an accident on ice last year so a great ice tire is really important. Price is also important, as we are a family of five. Please let us know your pick for highest performance versus price.

A: If ice is the main concern, there are three tires that would work well on your Odyssey. They are the new Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT, the Bridgestone Blizzak and the Michelin Latitude X-Ice2. All are engineered to get maximum traction by getting rid of the water under the tread as the car pushes down on the ice.

I have listed them in the order of performance versus price. If you are considering the Goodyear, make sure it has the letters WRT. That is the latest model and is far superior to the regular Ultra Grip Ice. With the Michelin, make sure it is the Latitude X-Ice2, The word Latitude indicates it is the van/SUV tire. That is the newest version for minivans.

Q: Can I put a P205/60R16 winter tire on a 2006 Honda Civic four-door sedan instead of the P205/55R16 (the original equipment).

A: That tire size swap is not a good idea. The P205/60R16 tire will be almost an inch too tall. Under full steering lock it may rub the inner fender liner. Plus the car will accelerate slower. The transmission shift points will change and the engine will use more gas.

Q: I have a Dodge Avenger SXT and I want to change to winter tires. The independent mechanic suggested I can go down one size relative to the original tire. Original tire size is P215/60R17. He suggests I should change to P215/60R16. Is this permissible, without affecting the performance of the car during winter?

A: The correct size down to a 16-inch fitment is P215/65R16. This size maintains your original diameter of wheel/tire combination: 27 inches. It is important to maintain the correct diameter so the car will shift at the correct speeds. The size quoted by your mechanic is about one inch too small in diameter.

Q: My question is about storing my summer tires when I switch over to winters. Is it OK to store mounted tires on a garage floor on their sides stacked four high? I am concerned about cold temperatures during winter.

A: Ideally, the tires should be stored in moderate temperatures, such as your basement. Summer or all-season tires do not like to get frozen. But please keep them away from the furnace. If they must be stored where it is cold, I usually put a couple of 2x4s under the bottom tire so it is not in contact with the concrete floor. This also allows some air flow underneath.

Q: I’m looking to buy winter tires for my Nissan XTrail and have been looking at General Tire Altimax Arctic and Michelin X-Ice Xi2 at Canadian Tire. Which of these two would be a better tire to get? I always thought Michelin was a better tire, but I’m not sure.

A: The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 replaces the X-i2 in some sizes. It is a premium state-of-the-art winter tire, as was the Xi2. You will find the price reflects that. The General Arctic Altimax is a good winter tire. It is almost as good under most conditions. The difference is ice, where the Michelin grabs better. It has engineering features specific to ice. So, it comes down what kind of driving conditions you expect to encounter the most: snow or ice. If you expect ice to be an important issue, pay extra for the Michelin.

wheels@thestar.ca

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