Snowy Wheels

Steering You Right With Sharon Peters

Q: This will be our first winter in the extreme north. There will be lots of snow. Do we need studded tires or will snow tires do the trick?

A: Go for a set of good-quality snow tires. Studs make no sense for the normal driver, even when he or she is regularly driving through deep snow.

I spent several winters living in the Colorado high mountains near Vail and Breckenridge where there’s 300 inches or more of snow every year. Good snow tires (and cautious driving) got me through even the worst storms without unpleasantness. Moreover, my friends who were ski instructors, snow plow drivers or ambulance attendants — folks who had to be on the road at 4 a.m. when conditions were often at their worst — did not use studded tires, which are just plain awful when you’re not driving through thick ice or 12 inches of snow.

Keep your road speed slow, even if the lunatics around you haven’t reduced speed a whit in deference to the conditions, and you’ll maintain good control of your vehicle.

Q: We’re buying our daughter a new car for her birthday. We’re doing the legwork, narrowing the field to about six models and then on her birthday taking her to the various dealerships so she can make her own choice. Aside from the sticking to the budget, what’s your advice?

A: First, make sure she gets to see the dashboard at night, when it’s all lit up like a Christmas tree. A friend bought a car a couple of months ago that she loves in almost every regard. But the first time she drove at night she recoiled in horror. The dashboard is a bilious, unnecessarily copious spread of red lights of a particularly putrid shade. She claims she would not have purchased that car had she known of the light issue ahead of time. Indeed, the light configuration and color is alarming enough that even weeks after settling in with this otherwise perfect vehicle, she is unhappy with night driving. She’s an artist, so is a bit more sensitive to some things than others of us. But I’m no artist, and I find the dashboard sufficiently eye-wearying that even I don’t enjoy being a passenger in her car at night.

You/she will pay more for car insurance for a new one than a year-old one and also more for the tags and registration, so that’s something to factor in.

But if you stick to doing price comparisons, not buying add-ons you don’t really want, being open to a color that may not be the first choice, working with a salesperson who respects your thoughts and limitations and moving on if you don’t get the deal you want, you’ll do fine.

© CTW Features
What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving, repairing and making the most of your vehicle. Send your questions to

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