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Old 02-11-2010, 02:52 PM   #1
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C6: Driving in the Snow


The objective of this thread is to share my experience in using the Corvette C6 as a daily driver, in particular in areas that are prone to snow. For the record, I have a stock 2008 C6 Coupe, Z51, purchased and driven in the state of New Jersey.

I hope that the information contained in this thread will be useful to those who enjoy driving their Corvette whenever they have the opportunity but don't for lack of information (e.g. which snow chains fit on the Corvette).

Before I embark on this literary journey, I have a small, albeit important, disclaimer:
First, and foremost, I want to be crystal clear here, I am not expert in anything and bear no certifications what so ever in any domain related to vehicles, regulations and so forth. FWIW: I work in the IT department of a bank.

Secondly, this is my only car, I drive it daily regardless of the weather; except for hail. I do have a family car but that is for my wife and the kids.
Driving in the snow, from my perspective, is a combination of driver skills, a suitably prepared car and knowing when you are going in over your head

1. With regards to preparing the car

i. Introduction

As I have the Z51 edition, the car came with the run flat high performance summer GoodYear tires: clearly a very poor choice for low temperature driving.

Yes, it is true that some people state it is possible to drive, if you take care, with those tires in low temperatures. However, these tires are clearly not designed to be used in low temperatures and they shouldn't be used in low temperatures. In fact I suspect that it will damage the tires because the rubber is brittle/hard in low temperatures.

Let's not forget that the rubber on high performance summer tires is designed to function in the summer at great speeds - therefore built to withstand heat - their ability to perform in low temperatures is greatly hindered: you are putting yourself and others at risk.

It is clearly preferable to get winter tires because they are manufactured with rubber that is designed to function in low temperatures. The general consensus is that below 7C/44F, winter rubber should be used and will be more effective - i.e. improved adherence.

It is possible to rely on quality A/S tires however they are neither a good high performance tire nor a good performance snow tire. On numerous occasions I have driven my Corvette with the Avon Tech M550 tires in snow so it is clearly doable, is it ideal? No! Doable, most certainly.

My recommendation, and this is what I have been doing, is to have two complete sets of wheels. Although the upfront cost is higher, in the long run it is the better choice - in my case I purchased a second hand set.
Having two complete sets of tires and the appropriate TPMS tool, I am able to swap the sets of wheels myself. This saves me time because it is quick to swap the sets and it saves me money because I do not have to pay someone for the change. My GM Dealer was charging me 300$ to swap the rubber on the same set of rims.

Furthermore, I am improving the longevity of the material. Every time the tire is removed or put back onto the rim there is a risk of breaking the pressure sensor or damaging the wheel itself.
The rule "if it ain't broke don't touch it" is clearly applicable in this scenario

ii. Winter Tires

From a winter tire perspective the are two choices:
  1. Stick with stock size: this is the option I have taken because I purchased a second hand set from a fellow Corvette owner. My Corvette tire sizes are for the front 245/40-18 and the rear 285/35-19 for an LL load range.
    In this size I have only found one snow set, the Pirelli Winter 240 Sottozero.
  2. Go -1 route: usually the recommended route. Reducing the tire size provides improved traction on snow.

About the one size down route.

Going this route means taking a tire that is less wider, with a smaller rim size, and a higher ratio. In other words putting an 18 inch in the back and a 17 inch rim in the front.

The difficulty is to find a tire that is in the correct tire size so that the overall diameter of both tires are identical. This is very important because if the diameter is different it will create problems with the on board calculator.

Normally, if we were to follow the -1 size rule, for the rear tire, it would mean using a 275/40-18 tire. This tire would represent a 0.7% difference with the OEM size, which is clearly acceptable.
The problem is that there is no snow tire in that specific size (at the time of my investigation and the time of writing this note).

The other difficulty is to find a rim of the correct size that will fit on the car. I do not think a 17 inch rim will fit in front, I believe my brakes will get in the way.

Not having 50 rims available to test on the Corvette, I basically grabbed a front wheel and put it on the rear axle, interestingly enough it fit without clearance issues.

So, in this case my initial thought was to put a full set of 18 inch rims onto the Corvette for snow tires. In front I would have put 245/40-18 up front and 245/45-18 in the rear.

The difference in revolutions per mile between 285/35-19 and 245/45-18 is 0.6% (751.02 versus 755.9) based on the website:

Which is well below the recommended 3% tolerance for tire size change.

In addition, in those sizes, it is very easy to get snow tires: there is real choice in brands.

Now I did not go this route for two reasons. First I do not know if it is legal/functional and second I bought for a decent price a full second hand set thereby ending the thought on the downsizing.
iii. Snow chains

Finding snow chains for the Corvette is extremely difficult due to the spacing - or lack thereof - between the tire and the housing. I have tried almost every product that Amazon has to offer and have found only one to fit: Thule K Summit K44
No, I do not have a vested interest in Amazon, it's just that their no hassle return policy is perfect when you don't know what works
I do have the list of products I have tested, the only reason I am not publishing the list is to avoid product bashing scenarios which are not constructive. The Thule fit and work, I tested them, although the configuration provided by Thule is incorrect for my snow tires (Pirelli).
This is not surprising seeing the issues I have experienced with other snow chains from a sizing perspective. For me, it is positive to find chains that fit

These snow chains do not touch the Corvette and are installed only on the outer layer of the tire - which is why they fit actually:

The chains aren't needed for this kind of snow, just testing them

My personal take on Snow Chains:

It is my belief that the utility of the snow chains is extremely limited. I have been able to drive the Corvette every where without snow chains: they are my personal insurance in case I have a problem.

As you can see in the following posts, it is really possible to drive without chains in snow and on ice. If you need the chains then you're facing some serious challenge here.

Last edited by Fluffy; 12-31-2010 at 06:47 AM.
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