Well, it certainly is snowing and raining a lot in Seattle. Most folks just use the tires that come on their cars, but having dedicated snow and rain tires really make a difference. “Tire Rack”:http://tirerack.com is an amazing source of information about winter tires. For instance, they explain the basics of those crazy “tire size”:http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=46 and “service description”:http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=35 that tires use like 225/50R16 91H becomes something you might understand (225mm wide, 50% as tall tire, radial construction, 16 inch rims, 92 means each tire can carry up to 630kg and be run at speeds up to 130mph.
More importantly, they have great advice for winter tire “sizing”:http://www.tirerack.com/winter/tech/techpage.jsp?techid=126 that is to get a narrower than stock tire. So if the stock tire is say 225/50R16 then you can use a narrow 205/50R16 tire (that is 205mm wide instead of 225mm wide) because you plow less snow in front of you. Also they have “recommended”:http://www.tirerack.com/installer/Installer.jsp?zipCode=98004 that are top quality folks like Auto Dynamix in Bellevue.
Perhaps most important, they have lots of end user “surveys”:http://www.tirerack.com/tires/surveyresults/surveydisplay.jsp?type=W&VT=C that tell you what other folks like. In the winter category, these are the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D which is great in just about everything except really bad ice. It is a performance winter tire. If you really want the very best ice and snow, then the Bridgestone Blizzak WS-60 seemst o be the ticket, but it isn’t as good on dry pavement, so better for those really winter all the time places. For us in Seattle where the only real snow is up skiing, the Dunlop seems like a better choice. You basically can run these winter tires for six months and then when its the summer, go back to high performance summer tires.
One last tip is to make it easy, invest in some nice looking alloy wheels, so that you don’t have the expense of constantly remounting your winter tires. While a good set of allow rims may cost $400, the $20 per tire it costs to remount adds up quickly.
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