Choosing Snow Tires for Your Conversion Van
It is November. You live in Central Minnesota. Last year was a relatively light year for snow. You are expecting a heavy winter this year. The last time you purchased snow tires for your conversion van was 30,000 miles ago. The stage is set – you need to buy snow tires.
Here are your options:
1. Move to Florida or Arizona.
This option gives you instant relief from the dreaded “which snow tire is best” decision. While you still need to purchase new tires, the selection is larger (and sportier). Should you choose this option, be aware we have many blog posts that will help you with the warmer weather issues.
2. Buy All-Season tires.
This is what many people do. This gets them a set of tires they can keep on their van all year. There are a lot of great options out there for all-season tires. What you end up with is a compromise. An all-season tire does ok under most conditions. Not great in any one condition. That spring camping trip up along the North Shore of Lake Superior could turn nasty, leaving you wishing you’d picked a better wet-weather tire. The December trip out to Lake Mille Lacs for some ice-fishing could leave you wishing you’d purchased a stud-able winter tire.
3. Buy Snow Rated tires.
There are an amazing number of snow rated tires on the market. These are tires you can leave on all year if you wish and have the best tire for winter driving conditions. What these tires are best for is driving snow covered roads. They have tread compound designed for the cold weather and lugs designed to keep your conversion van moving across the snow. If you find yourself driving on ice, they may not be your best choice. Many of the snow rated tires are not stud-able. You will end up putting on chains when the big storm hits, which you could do with all-season tires.
4. Buy Severe Winter tires.
There is a tire rating indicated by a snowflake inside a rugged mountain which designates a tire rated for severe winter conditions. There are not yet a lot of options out there for these tires, but you can find them. These are often stud-able. These are designed to deal with loose snow, packed snow, ice, slush – and any combination of those. If you purchase a set of severe winter tires, you should not leave them on your van all year. This drives your initial tire purchase cost up, as you now have to purchase, maintain, and store two sets of tires.
- Pay attention to load ratings. Conversion vans are heavy. Make sure the tire you buy is designed to carry the weight of your van.
- Flat spots occur from a heavy vehicle sitting for a long time. If you find a rough vibration, allow the tires to warm up before taking it in for a check. The vibration will often go away after 5 minutes of driving.
- ALWAYS replace all four tires. This is especially important when putting snow tires on your van. If you replace only the tires on the back of your van, they will have a different amount of snow-traction than the front tires. This could result in uncontrolled spin-outs. Keep the traction of all tires the same.
With all that said, maybe I’ll see you in Florida!