Ready to Roll

nope, those aren't nails - they're studded snow tires (click to enlarge)

After hearing the same advice from virtually every Mainer we’ve met,  we bought studded snow tires for our Honda CR-V.  I didn’t realize that “all weather tires” aren’t really sufficient to safely handle the ice and snow conditions during a typical Maine winter.  Not only do Mainers have 2 sets of tires, they also have 2 sets of rims (that’s the steel or aluminum wheel that the tire is mounted to), because it is much easier and ultimately cheaper to change out the tires if you have different sets of rims for the 2 sets of tires.  Rims cost $100 – $130 each, but there was no way I was going to spend $400+ for four of them.  Luckily I was able to buy a set of new Honda rims on Craigslist for only $50 for all four.

(click to enlarge to see close-up of studs)

The tires I got are made in Sweden – I figured Swedes know lots about driving in ice and snow.  I had never seen studded tires before, which may be de rigueur in Maine but are actually illegal in my home state (the metal studs wreak havoc with asphalt and tear up the road. They’re also noisy as heck, and make for a very rough ride on dry pavement.)  Basically they look like tires that ran over a bed of nails and are now embedded with nailheads.  But it sure was great to feel how well they gripped our steep gravel “driveway from hell” as I effortlessly made my way up to the top without the usual spinning, slipping or sliding.

We left our other vehicle studless because we will need to go back and forth to our home state, but at least vehicle #2 is a 4×4 so it should do fine on plowed roads.  If two cars seems excessive, we learned the hard way that it’s not.  Not only is it difficult to get to a repair shop due to distance, there is no such thing as “loaner” cars available, and the closest rental facility is an hour away (and you still have to figure out how to get there).  Not only do most rural Mainers have more than one vehicle, they tend to have several.  One is a pickup, another is a plow truck, another is a jeep or SUV that can handle the bad roads, and if they have kids, they may also have a minivan or a mpg-friendly commuter car.  And that doesn’t include the non-working “rust buckets” and abandoned vehicles lying about the yard, saved for parts or fossilzing because their owners don’t want to pay tow charges and discard fees at the town dump.

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