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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Well here in cow town we have been graced with the first hints of winter, 4 inches of snow and a steady average temp of -6c over the last 3 days. For all members wondering how the cali handles winter listen on.

First off most of you probably remember my first tale of me and my caliber braving a freak pre winter blizzard. Now that winter has started to take hold and I can drive the roads I do everyday in winterlike conditions I'm going to update on how the caliber performs.

Enough talk, lets cut to the chase.. First let me say that the stock firestone tires on the caliber are absolutely 100% garbage in winter conditions... poor stopping distance, acceleration from a dead stop is completely laughable (expect to be very light on the pedal and even then expect them to slip), however turning on snow/ice is rather reliable. The braking system on the caliber appears to be on par with past vehicles I've owned and the abs system kicks in at even the slightest hint of lost traction (not that it helps much with the firestones on there). Vehicle wieght seems both a blessing and a curse, acceleration is sluggish (as to be expected) and during stopping expect to slide a little bit further than cars that are lighter. Overall road stability due to the wieght seems to be a plus however, performing lane changes and hitting icy patches while driving down the road are easily manageable and the car feels firmly planted when encountering these phenomenon.

Cold starts so far are extremely pleasant, we are averaging -15c overnight and starting my car up at 6am without block heating results in a startup that is just the same as if it was +10c. Engine hits high idle around 1700rpm and calms down to 1000rpm within 5 minutes. Heat produced inside the cabin is acheived very quickly (5 mins after start) and the rear defroster works extremely efficiently. Window fogging is nonexistant providing you run the climate control at defrost on the left knob, 2 indents in on the centre knob and full heat on the right knob for about 5 mins, then you can feel free to switch to face, face/feet and go full blast for the rest of your trip without worrying about fogging up your windows.

Interior creaking/noise seems to climb the colder it gets, wich is in direct correlation to how much plastic is inside the caliber and how the plastics contract when cold vs when they are warm. Expect the first 15 minutes of your drive to be noisy when taking slight bumps in the road, gradually lessening as your car heats up.


For calibers without mudflaps (like mine) expect a heavy collection of ice and snow on the front fenderwells (so much so that if left unchecked your front tires will rub against the collected ice/snow when you turn). As for having to scrape your windshield in the morning, remarkably, so far with my caliber I have never had to scrape my windshield! a quick wipe with the windshield wipers followed by a blast of wiper fliud gets you clear and on the road, while my nieghbors are all out there having to scrape thier windows.

I guess to sum up it's as simple as this. The fwd caliber is a good car to be running in the winter, the stock tires could/should be upgraded to a better winter tire for better traction in starts/stopping. The car starts up like a dream with great visibility and heat is delivered to you very quickly. While many drivers can get away with using the firestone tires you must excercise extra caution when driving in adverse conditions with them, for safety's sake if you can afford it, at least replace the drive wheels with a decent snow tire to make your trips just that little bit safer. Of course this won't gaurd you from all the other bad drivers who almost rear end you on a daily basis.. but that's another story lol!.

Edit: For people wondering about fuel consumption during the winter, I have noted that I have lost about 2-3mpg when encountering city style driving, highway driving during winter is something I have not calculated yet... but basing my previous warm weather driving habits of 28mpg city and 31highway, and factoring in my new winter city mpg of 25mpg I estimate highway consumption to be around the 28-30mpg rating.
 

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I agree with your comments about the tires. We had a couple of inches of snow last week and the the handling was downright scary. The next day I started searching for "H" rated snow tires with not much luck for the 215-60-17 size. I found some 225-60-17 Continental WinterContacts with the "H" speed rating that are only 3/10s of an inch bigger in diameter. The difference in handling is unbelievable and they are quieter on dry pavement and don't aquaplane on wet pavement like the Firestones. I don't agree with your idea of putting snows only on the front unless you want to do a 360 every time you hit the brakes. Anyone with the Tire Pressure Monitoring system should warn any tire installer not to break the bead near the valve stem cause the machine will rip off the transponder thingy mounted on the inside of the wheel, also the valve stem should only be stainless steel like the original. The Caliber is my first front drive car in about 25 years and I hope these tires keep me out of the ditch. The rear end fishtailing feels safer than the front end doing it....Let it snow, I think i'm ready!!
 

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Do both of you have FWD's? If so, is there anyone that has an AWD and has snow driving experience yet?

I'm having a hard time choosing between an SXT FWD and a R/T AWD when I live in an area where I get snow, but not that much.
 

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We have not had snow as of yet. The cold is here. I am very concerned after reading all the bad things about the Firestones. With the AWD I am hoping for better handling. I am starting to look at tires now. It is hard finding the size on the Caliber now. So I am starting to move to a different size. The GoodYear Invicta is winning right now. But there is a Conntinental that I like also. We will see and hope for the best.
 

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We just had a little bit of snow in Cleveland a couple of days ago. I took the car to work because my wife was off. The AWD with the factory Firestones seemed to be fine, I hit a couple of ice patches without a problem, and encountered slushy condtions that I had no trouble with. Will respond again when it really snows!!!

I grew up in Cleveland and have been driving for 20+ years, winter driving is fun!!!
 

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I replaced the tires and rims on our AWD R/T last week.
We put 16 inch package on the car. Car came with 18 inch.
Tires are 215-65-16 which gave us the same height,
but narrower foot print.

No snow experience yet but soon.


Wilson
 

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I see many refernces to putting 16" tires on to replace the 17" Firestones that came with the car.

Doesn't this throw off the speedometer and mileage calculations?
 

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As long as the rim and tire selection equals the same height
as the original set up there is no problem.

On 18 rim there is less tire side wall height.
On 16 rim setup there is more tire side wall height.


Wilson
 

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Goodyear Assurance Tires for my Caliber SXT. My dad has them on his car and he said they're very good in winter conditions. We live on a hill that gets steep with twists and turns and his car never got stuck on the bottom of the hill last winter. I just wanted good tires that I wouldn't have to keep changing. That kills your wheels, especially if you have the aluminum wheels like I do. The wheels on my Stratus R/T were basically really crappy looking from changing the tires around all the time. So we'll see how well they do once it starts really snowing here.

I have also noticed that since its gotten colder here in NY that I've gone from getting 28/29 MPG to 24/25 MPG.
 
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