24.9 Mpg – not too shabby for a 1999, 188k miles, 300hp, AWD, V8

The old D2, not mine but wow red is nice.
The old D2, not mine but wow red is nice.

Just got back from a camping trip to Leadville, CO and I averaged almost 25 Mpg in the old Audi. Quite impressive for an AWD gas sipping monster 4000 lb family sedan that gets about 15 Mpg on short trips around town.

Considering the old girl is probably down on horsepower, was carrying about 350Lb of people and stuff and had to blaze over a few mountain passed at 75Mph +  (I can confess that I gave her the welly on a few occasions) that’s not too shabby and she still seems to be quite nimble on the road up to the Eisenhower tunnel.  Obviously the downward trip from Leadville helped bump up the number but what goes up must come down ….


Winter Tires? Studded vs Non Studded? What’s better?

So I’ve always been under the impression (looking at an old test that tirerack preformed in 2007) that winter studless tires, proper winter tires like those from Nokian and the like have about the same performance than equivalent tires with no studs. The results did show the studded tiers THEY selected were worse. See the video from 2007 below.

But as of 2013 there are much better studded options and if you look at the test results down the page a bit, on ice, studs are always going to be better!

And in 2009 they did indeed find this to be true, duh, studs are better on ice:

A test done found here by Washington Dept of Transport – basically said that Blizzaks were about as good than studded tires even on ice but this is from 2002 and I don’t this the studded tires they used were very good.

So what’s the best snow tire to buy ???

Here is a list of test of the top snow tires from a Swedish Test in 2001 and you can see the studded tires come out on top: ( I snagged this data from a webpage – here is the original article –

The evaluation weightings used:
Ice 30%
Snow 20%
Sleet 10%
Wet tarmac 20%
Dry tarmac 10%
Economy and comfort 10%

S means Studded, N means Nordic, E means European.

1. Nokian Hakkapellitta 7 (S): 7.4 (****)
2. Continental Conti IceContact (S): 7.3 (****)
3. Bridgestone Noranza 2 Evo (S): 7.0 (***)
4. Goodyear Ultragrip Extreme (S): 6.6 (***)
5. Michelin X-Ice North XIN2 (S): 6.6 (***)
6. Pirelli WinterCarving Edge (S): 6.6 (***)
7. Vredestein Arctrac (S): 6.6 (***)
8. Gislaved NordFrost 5 (S): 6.3 (***)
9. Yokohama IceGuard Ig35 (S): 6.0 (**)
10. Goodyear UltraGrip Ice+ (N): 6.0 (**)
11. Dunlop SP Ice Response (S): 5.9 (**)
12. Continental Conti-Viking Contact 5 (N): 5.9 (**)
13. Nokian Hakkapellitta R (N): 5.9 (**)
14. Hankook Winter I*Pike (S): 5.7 (**)
15. Sava Eskimo Ice (S): 5.6 (**)
16. Michelin X-Ice XL2 (N): 5.6 (**)
17. Bridgestone Blizzak Nordic WN-01 (N): 5.5 (**)
18. Yokohama IceGuard ig30 (N): 5.0 (*)
19. Continental ContiWinter ContactTS830 (E): 4.9 (*)
20. Dunlop Graspic DS-3 (N): 4.6 (*)
21. Goodyear UltraGrip Performance 2 (E): 4.6 (*)
22. Insa Turbo T-2 Green Line (S): 4.5 (*)
23. Kenda Icetec (N): 4.5 (*)
24. Pirelli Winter 210 Sottozero Serie II (E): 4.5 (*)
25. Cordlant Sno-Max (S): 4.3 (*)
26. Vredestein Snowtrac 3 (E): 4.2 (*)
27. Sava Eskimo S3 (E): 4.0 (-)
28. Toyo Snowprox S953 (E): 3.5 (-)

As you can see the top 9 are all studded and rightly so as the test was weighted for ice 30% rather than snow %20. Also the tirerack does not carry the Nokian Hakkapellitta but they do now as of 2013 carry the updated version of the number 2 tire (Continental ExtremeWinterContact ) that came second it their latest 2012 test – see results here

So studs then?

This is what the folks at Nokian have to say :

It’s really comes down to where you live. Here in the Front Range of Colorado during winter the roads are mostly dry so if you have to commute to work every day with studs then you are going to have to put up with that constant rumble for a good 5 months of the year, people who have never had studded tire before fail to remember that you are running tiny little metal rods into the dry tarmac at speed every time your studded tire rotates, noise is going to be generated and quite a lot of it!

If you want to know why you even need snow tires then see this video


In case you were wondering what the difference between Nordic vs Central European snow tires was

Latest test of Studless snow tires from tirerack in 2012

This should be the most up to date info for those wanting to get tires from thetirerack but remember they don’t stock Nokian, in my opinion the best snow tire money can buy.

And of course AWD with no snow get smoked by FWD with snow! Really! <>


Winter Tires – Nokian Hakkapelitta R / RSi Studless Winter Tires

Nokian-RSI.jpgLet me start this article by pointing out the fact that all season tires are crap. Seems like every time my poor bastard friends head down to Big-O tires they get duped into buying this waste of wubber. Sure, if you’re going to be tootling around Boulder, CO in the Buick and at the first sign of snow and ice you close the shades and turn up the heat to 85 then keep on buying your all weather rubber but come on peeps, we’re in bloody Colorado!, driving with 6 people and two dogs crammed in the old A8 trying to get the car a little sideways to make the people in the back seat scared! It’s really all about the rubber and tread pattern. In summer, except when it rains you want virtually no tread and wide tires. In winter you want, tall narrow tires that’s rubber is soft and grippy at LOW temperatures and a nice tread pattern that grips into the snow and ice. Problem is all season tires sit exactly in the middle, so they are ok in the summer and probably not too good in the winter. One of the factors that makes a snow tire a snow tire is the composition of the rubber, the chemists who concoct the stuff ensure that at low temperatures, even below zero, it’s still nice and soft and rubbery. If you don’t believe me then on a ball chilling cold day go outside and before you jump into your chariot take a look at how hard the rubber is on your regular all seasons. If you’re lucky enough to have snows on note how nice and soft the rubber is.


Car Tire expiration dates ?

Just saw this piece on ABC news about tire expiration dates. Those who know me have always heard my mantra about buying a good quality tire, after all it’s the only thing that’s between your car and the road. According to this piece on ABC news, the rubber compound in tires dries out over time and becomes brittle after 6 years or so. This can lead to blowouts, nasty rollovers and to the premature pushing up of the the old daisies! The scary thing is that potentially dangerous tires are sold as new at major auto outlets like Sears. Legally they are new, having never been used and having no tread wear at all. A pal of mine just bought new tires for $20 each, so I’m suspecting that they may be old tires, yikes! (Note to self, don’t go on extended road trip in car with $20 tires)

How to figure out how old your tires are – Determine the manufacture date

All tires have a manufacture date stamped on the side of them but this number was never meant to be easily read by the general public as it’s somewhat criptic to decipher:

  • Date will be most likely be on the outside rubber wall of the tire but I found that on my winter tires I had to look on the inside wall of the tire
  • Dates are normally 3 or four digits long and stamped in a recessed roundish rectangle on the sidewall of the tire
  • Before 2000, the date code had three digits so if your little code only has 3 digits then you’re already in trouble, your tires are a minium of eight years old and could potentially be deadly.
  • For tires that have four digits the last two are normally the year this is what you need to look at
  • First two digits are the week so 0504 is fifth week in 2004

Just looked at the tires on my ride and the code I see says 0504, this means the tire was made in 2004 so I’m ok and shite, these are high performance Z rated tires @ $200 + each so I’m happy there haven’t gone stale yet. So peeps it’s time to grab a flashlight and go and check the age of your rubber, EVEN IF YOUR TIRES ARE NEW or the tread looks good!

Some examples from the tires on my Audi

Here are the dates from my rubber! Starting out with my summer tires (firth week of 2004):


My winter ties (35th week of 2005)


Counter view?

Alarmism or under reported? Seems like from a science point of view rubber can break down with age and think about the loss to the tire companies if they have to recall all the new tires older than 6 years. Comments below the video please?



Mom’s new car – Hyundai Atos (AKA, The little pregnant roller skate)

Ladies and Germs, I give the the Hyundai Atos “a city car” my mom just bought. This is what R69000 ($10000) gets you in sunny South Africa. No Airbags, no ABS and stability control, forget it! I I inquired about the Euro Ncap saftey rating and my mom just laughed at me – South African’s don’t need none of those safety nannies!! My mom added that she’s been driving on some of the most dangerous roads in the world for the past 30 years in an old BMW320i sans airbags and ABS! Yeah, BooYah! BooooooYahhhh go South Africa!

It gets great gas milage and a car salesman at the dealership said that someone who bought the car was involved in a really bad wreck and supposedly lived to tell the tale so word on the street is that it’s a safe car. Compared to my Audi: it has a 1000cc engine (I have a 4200cc engine in my ride) her car has 63hp, I have 300hp. I get a shitty 15 mpg around town and 24 mpg on the highway if I’m lucky, she’ll get 50 mpg!! Different strokes I guess and it’s too bad Subaru’s are so dam expensive over there. I am still amazed that they can get away with selling any new car without airbags and antilock brakes, guess the lobbyists in the US are good for something.


When car and tree meet. I’ve got my money on the tree!

What happens when you hit a tree sideways in an Audi A3 at high speed. Well wonder no longer folks! My money is on the tree and in other pictures posted on the link below the two white sheets by the car show the outcome of this meeting 🙁 The wreck happened in Portugal and see this link at the Audi world forums for more crazy pictures and discussion. Moral of the story, if you’re gonna wreck, watch out for them trees.