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St. Louis weather is one of those things one must deal with unfortunately. And nowhere is that more notable than in my choice of vehicles.
As people who know me are aware, I am a big one for buying fast cars, usually rear wheel drive and usually not… shall we say… designed for snow?
Thankfully, snow in St. Louis is not as bad as I think some people think. The truth is that when it snows lightly, the roads around here really aren’t that bad. The drivers? That’s another matter… but the roads themselves really aren’t terrible. They tend to get salted pretty decently in my experience and a little careful driving is usually enough to keep you out of trouble.
The snow goes from “light” to “moderate” most years… and when we have moderate snow there’s like a light switch flicked which makes many of the roads around here virtually impassable for days at a time. I’ve never quite figured that one out, but part of it is an underfunded street department which means many roads just don’t get ploughed until sometimes a week or more after a moderate snow.
When that happens, I have the luxury in my job of working from home. I actually WFH pretty much 60% of my time anyway, so this shift is super easy for me. Client meetings have to take a back seat for those couple of weeks we have moderate snow, but I am much happier not being on St. Louis roads with the crazy drivers out there!
So what about when we have a severe snow? Well, to be honest I can only think of twice in the 23 years I’ve lived in this city now that we had a snow I would class as severe. I’ve seen severe snow in places like Colorado where they’re equipped to deal with it… but St. Louis isn’t. As a result the city shuts down, and in one notable instance the interstate from St. Louis to Kansas City (around 250 miles) was completely shut down for days due to that snow. So I am not driving anywhere.
So this brings me to why this is in the Automotive section of my blog. And my lament for this week…
Back in April I got a new car… an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. My god, what a machine… amazing car. It comes out of the factory with the wheels shod in Pirelli Corsa’s… basically a street-legal track tire rather than a more typical street tire. They are stunningly good tires that have amazing grip, but as I have discovered they are also incredibly susceptible to potholes (I have replaced 3 tires so far since I have owned the car due to blowouts) and the soft rubber summer compound has me thinking; what temperature will these things freeze into hockey pucks?
Well, St. Louis Drivers, and St. Louis conspired to accelerate my finding out. In the last couple of weeks the temperatures in St. Louis have dropped precipitously; basically last week we were looking at 60’s and 70’s Fahrenheit, and today we’re topping out at a whopping 45. There’s a possibility of snow tonight, albeit light. That’s one heck of a swing! And my experience with performance cars to date has told me that 40 degrees is usually the magic number when summer performance tires become basically unusable. These Corsas? I’m betting 50.
Thing is; I can’t test it. While I didn’t write about it at the time, my car was hit in a hit-and-run incident back about a month ago. Behold the results;
Yup… that sucks. Of course it was still driveable, and the temperatures were still in the 80’s and higher back then over a month ago. So I drove around for a couple of weeks while parts were ordered… I had hoped by getting on top of it and ahead of the game the repairs would be made shorter by them having the parts on-hand.
Well of course, the best laid plans are usually the first to be thrown out the window. The initial estimate of parts and cost (just under $2000) rapidly ballooned once the body shop started pulling the car apart some 4 weeks ago now. Of course, many of the parts are unique to this particular model of car, and because they’re from a relatively small auto manufacturer there are so many parts that had to be ordered from Italy.
So here we are, 6 weeks after the incident… 4 weeks without my Alfa… and the temperatures have dropped precipitously in the last week.
Sure, I’d already planned on putting more weather-appropriate rubber on my wheels sometime soon so I was budgeting for that in a couple more weeks. But when I got the call this morning that my car was going to be ready today, I immediately looked at the weather forecast and sighed. There’s just no way I will feel safe driving that car around on the soft summer rubber with the temperatures and conditions such as they are right now. So a quick quote and a conversation with the guy at the dealer and we are now putting some all-season rubber on my car. As a result, my total out of pocket tomorrow is going to be around $2000 to get my car back; the $1000 deductible for my insurance and $1000 or thereabouts for the new tires. Ouch.
But wait, I hear you petrol-heads cry; why all-season instead of proper winter tires? Well, truth is I don’t think I need winter tires in St. Louis. The weather just isn’t that bad, and we’re so ill-prepared for weather that would warrant winter tires here that it seems pointless. And my job is such that I can work from home when I feel the weather is too bad for that all-season rubber. My car nut friends might think me crazy, but I’ve had dedicated winter tires on my last few cars and rarely found a situation where I think I needed them… and the negatives of running real winter tires (noise, tramlining etc) far outweigh the benefits. Besides, in the latter part of winter in St. Louis it’s not unusual for us to swing from one extreme to another a number of times before things start to actually warm up. I’d rather just run all-seasons so I can enjoy my car.
Besides, by all accounts these Continental DWS tires are excellent. I used to run them on my BMW 330i many years ago and I got through a couple of St. Louis winters on them without having to have a dedicated winter set… or heck even a summer set. The car just was good even with these.
I’ll report back. I am trying to get this blog back in gear 🙂