I've done a lot of driving in the snow, mostly with a FWD car that had regular all-season tires. Never had an issue. Yesterday was my first true commute through poor conditions with the Compass, and I was surprised when I slid a few times. These weren't major slides (and most of them happened when I had the 4x4 disengaged), but that's never a good feeling. My current tires are Hankook Optimo H727's - all season tires, and just a few months old.
Based on what I've read, the majority opinion seems to be that winter tires are more valuable than 4x4. I've never used winter tires before; would you guys agree that they make that much of a difference? I'm a fairly conservative driver, and I'd still drive conservatively even with winter tires.
I'm also pretty sensitive to gas prices and having to fill up more than is necessary. I've read mixed reports about how much winter tires affect fuel efficiency, with some arguing that they don't affect it at all (and that decreased MPGs are a result of other winter factors). Since winter tires are made to have better traction, it would make sense that there's a hit to mileage... Any observations here?
It was really mild last year, so this is my first "real" winter in this area. I'm not looking to purchase winter tires at the moment, as I want to feel it out and see if the weather (and the plowing...) is worse than what I'm used to. Assuming it's bad enough to warrant a set, when is the best time to buy? I'd imagine that it's similar to winter clothes, and there are steep discounts and deals some time around spring. Does anyone have any advice on that?