Tag Archives: snow tires

Shorter Everything

10 Jan

1. Dennis Gabryszak is a creep who is accused of doing creepy things to at least 7 women, who have the courage to come forward and publicly air the ways in which this schmuck humiliated them. Gabryszak has not denied or otherwise addressed the allegations and is unfit for public service. 

2. It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up was the lesson learned during Watergate, and on Thursday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took 2 hours to explain how he was completely in the dark about some really despicable things that his very close advisors and confidants were doing. When his appointee to the NYNJ Port Authority, David Wildstein, resigned in December – a month ago – over September’s politically manufactured bridge debacle. For Christie to suggest that this is all news to him strains credulity. For him to suggest that he was completely in the dark about these things seems unlikely. Ultimately, if you surround yourself with petty, vindictive people, and you maintain a public demeanor that is, at times, petty and vindictive, you can hardly stand there with a straight face and claim that you are, like, totally shocked that people in your employ behaved in a petty and vindictive manner. 

3. Yesterday, GOP gadfly Michael Caputo was sitting in for Tom Bauerle on WBEN, and he had legendary dirty trickster Roger Stone call in – that’s quite a get. They talked about a meeting Friday put together in an effort to convince billionaire birther Donald Trump to run for Governor of the state of New York. Stone got it exactly right – Trump doesn’t have a chance. Ultimately, New York State is as blue as it gets, and while Democrats and left independents might consider a Republican who portrays himself as a centrist who is liberal on social issues (see: Pataki), there’s no way in hell any self-respecting Democrat would support a Donald Trump for governor – not after his dramatic and absurd lurch to the very fringes of the right wing in the last few years. For all the Freudian bleating about the NY SAFE Act, the metropolitan area around the five boroughs – how did Glenn Beck phrase it? Oh yeah, “they surround you”. 

4. Declared dead several years ago, it turns out that shared border management still has a pulse. Because Canadian border agents are now armed, like their American counterparts, one of the big obstacles to pre-clearing traffic on the Canadian side and eliminating the inspection booths on the American side has been eliminated. For now, it’s a pilot program and it’s only for commercial traffic, but if it’s successful there’s no reason why it couldn’t also be used for passenger vehicles, too. If that happens, all of the alarmist talk about the adverse health effects from idling traffic at a bridge crossing that has existed for 100 years can stop. I never quite understood how adding lanes to alleviate traffic congestion would aggravate health problems on the west side of Buffalo, nor did I understand why the anti-bridge rhetoric was effectively arguing for the complete removal of the bridge altogether. But hopefully the saga of the Hundredyearbridge will make a millimeter’s worth of progress. 

5. If your town government decides to hold a “public hearing” about a local controversy at 4:30 pm on a weekday, and doesn’t bother to invite representatives of the locality’s regional governmental entity, then it’s safe to say that the town government isn’t interested in dealing with conflict or problems. The one-party system in the town of Clarence is not showing itself to be particularly responsive or concerned about legitimate gripes from people in the northern flood plain.

Unbelievable. 

6. Chris Collins (NY-27) is playing to type

7. Subset cars: 

– did you know that it is perfectly legal for any American to import any car from anywhere in the world, provided it is 25+ years old? Not only legal to import, but legal to put on the road. Here’s a cool story about a dream come true

– I told you a few weeks ago to get yourself a set of snow tires. That’s not all. When it’s snowing and sloppery out, you should also (a) keep your washer fluid topped off; (b) keep an extra gallon of fluid in your trunk; (c) physically wipe the slop off your wipers every once in a while to keep them clean and clear; (d) take a squeegee to your front headlights at every fill-up to get the road sludge off of them and enable you to actually see at night. To that end, if your local Noco or whatever doesn’t keep a proper squeegee bucket around with some form of unfrozen cleaning solution, stop going there or complain. It is inexcusable in a cold climate. 

Have a good weekend!

 

 

 

Wear the Right Shoes

11 Dec

Get yourself some snow tires. 

Your pickup or SUV? Its 4 or all wheel drive will help you get un-stuck, and it’ll help you get going on some slippery stuff. Its ground clearance may occasionally help you ford a river or drive over a big snowball. But its mass is such that it makes it especially difficult to stop. 

Your anti-lock brakes? They’ll help you avoid a skid by automatically applying and releasing the brakes in quick succession, but they won’t help you avoid an accident if you’re going too fast. 

Or if your tires suck. 

Last night’s commute in Buffalo was your typical afternoon first-snow crawl. Just about every route was packed in or going at a reasonably safe, slow speed. This is good. But if you have crap tires, or even decent all-weather tires, you might as well put skates on the bottom of your car, because they won’t cut it in this weather.

The best of all possible worlds? AWD or 4WD with snow tires. If you have a Subaru or AWD Audi with a good set of snows, your car will be bulletproof in the ice and snow. But the big secret is that you don’t need the extra cost, heft, and maintenance that comes with powering all four wheels, not in WNY, where the roads generally get cleared pretty well (unless you’re unlucky enough to try to drive on a secondary road in the city of Buffalo up to a week after a major storm. For some reason, the city itself is unwilling or unable to plow all of its streets within a reasonable time).

Get yourself some snow tires, instead.

For instance, some local tire stores will store your summer tires in the winter, and vice-versa. For free. Go in, pay about $100, and they’ll do the switchover, usually installing snows in November and summers in April. You extend the lives of both sets of tires, and you’ll have the appropriate shoes on your car.

You don’t wear flip-flops in 6″ of snow. You don’t wear snowboots when it’s 80 degrees out. Why do that to your car?

In some countries, snow tires are mandated. This is a smart idea and something that snowy climates should seriously consider. Driving is no joke, and if you’re hurtling a 2-ton piece of rubber and metal down the street in a snowstorm, other drivers should have some semblance of assurance that you’re appropriately equipped. Snow tires are different from summer or all-weather tires in that they use a softer rubber compound, and feature deep sipes that literally help the car dig into the snow and ice. The best set I ever owned were Finnish-made Hakkapeliitta 2s, which rendered a car that had no traction control into a snow tank.  I always had to get them online, which is a hassle, but I haven’t not put snow tires on a car since my second winter here. You can get a set of Blizzaks, which are very good, or whatever your local tire shop offers, which will be fine, too. 

You can’t leave them on all year, because the rubber compound only works well in the cold weather. But if you, for instance, go from no snow tires on a slippery day to snow tires, you’ll be astonished by the difference in traction you have. Not just start and stop traction, but especially lateral traction, when you’re turning. Traction / stability control will help, too. 

We’re known for snow. We get snow. You drive in it. If you enjoy having control over your car in the snow, ice, and slush – the ability to start, stop, turn, and drive with some modicum of safety – pay your local tire guy, car dealer, or mechanic a visit. Maybe go to Tirerack.com or some other online retailer.

But whatever you do, get yourself some snow tires. 

It’s That Time of Year Again

4 Dec

About 5 years ago, I discovered that you don’t need all wheel drive or an SUV to safely drive on the snow. You don’t necessarily even need traction control. I grew up somewhere where anything over 3″ of snow accumulation meant widespread panic, while here people don’t get fazed by a foot at a time.

Snow tires. All you need is a good set of four snow tires. I first became a convert when I put a set of Hakkapeliitta 2s on a Jetta Wagon that had no traction control. Those tires enabled that car to stick to the road like glue. A set of Dunlop Graspic DS-2 weren’t as good, nor were the Hakka RSi. Blizzaks are quite good – Revo1 not as much as the WS-50.

This year, I found a set of four studded Nokian Hakkapeliitta 4s on eBay, and paid just over $375 to buy and ship them here from Oregon. (That’s a bargain – those tires probably retail for about $150/ea). They are 17″, so they fit on the existing GTI rims, and were installed about two weeks ago. The studded tires make some noise, but we finally got to try them out in earnest a couple of nights ago when a wet, slushy, heavy snow fell across the region. Those tires were like Krazy Glue keeping that car stuck to the road. It was as if we were driving through a gentle rain rather than the kind of slush that starts to pack down and become almost ice when left untreated, but trodden-on.

The other GTI is rolling on 16″ steel wheels, and I had 2 Revo1 Blizzaks that still had enough tread on them to go on the back, but had to get 2 new tires for the front – I went with what they had, which was the WS-50. Yes, it’s supposed to be bad to not run a complete set of identical 4 tires, but they’re all winter service approved, and the new, better tires are on the front, where it matters. The last couple of days have seen some accumulating snowfall downtown, and the car worked like a champ while others were slipping and sliding around.

We live in a wintry environment, and no matter how great of a driver you are, all-seasons don’t cut it when the snow and ice start blowing. Really prudent, serious drivers will add snows to AWD vehicles around here, and it does matter. Especially for lateral control – all-seasons or just straight AWD may enable you to go from a complete stop on a slippery mess, but when turning, you need that deeply, frequently siped tire to keep from sliding in a turn.

I find that Finland’s Nokian makes superior snow tires, and it makes sense, given that their climate is not unlike ours.