Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hankook W300 Ice Bear winter tires

Fun in the Snow 5 - 2006
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
We've had quite the weather the last few days. First, we had a major snowfall on the weekend. It was the most snow that I remember falling at one time. It actually started snowing Saturday afternoon and didn't stop until Monday morning. On Tuesday we had an artic outflow that dropped overnight wind chill temperatures to -20 C. Then last night we had another storm with snow and freezing rain that dropped over another 12 cm (5 in) onto our steps. Overall, where we are at the top of the mountain, we've had over 60 cm (2 ft) of snow these last few days. It's quite unusual for November in the usually balmy "Rain-couver." Our neighborhood, which has always been well plowed and salted in past years, was not maintained as much--probably because work crews were busy attending other areas. Buses stopped coming up the hills and garbage hasn't been collected all week. At least the worst of it is over for now. Temperatures are predicted to rise for the weekend.

During all of this I've been happily driving around in the Subaru STI and am very impressed with the performance of the Hankook W300 Ice Bears I bought last winter. They've performed very well in the snow, ice, and slush with very little signs of slip unless I go heavy on the throttle. Consumer Reports gave these tires a "poor" rating for snow traction and I agree that in fresh, deep snow they may slip more than other tires with really deep grooves. But the Hankooks are performance winter tires and Consumer Reports also rated them "very good" in the important safety areas such as braking on ice and wet, as well as in handling and hydroplaning. It rated "good" for dry braking. All of these factors are more important to me than deep snow traction, because living in the Lower Mainland, those are the conditions that I encounter the most. I also know from last year that the treadwear was very good. When I was waiting for the WedsSport wheels to put on for the summer, I had to keep using the Hankook Ice Bears well into June and hot weather. When I finally took them off, they showed very little wear.

I was so impressed with the Hankook Ice Bears that I bought another set for our 2006 Honda Odyssey. Originally I wasn't planning on buying winter tires for the van. But considering that we live above the snow line I just felt that it would be safer to drive on proper tires and not have to predict what the road conditions will be before we go out. With winter tires on the Odyssey, I have the extra security knowing that the tires will be performing at their best. I really think it's important because the tires are the only thing keeping us on the road. I ordered the tires from TireTrends, the same place I bought them from last year. Compared to other brands, the Hankooks are quite cheap and considering the performance they give, it makes them an awesome deal. I paid $117/tire for 225/70/16. This size is close enought to the OEM tires (235/65/16) not to cause any problems. Unfortunately, there is only one winter tire available in the OEM size: Bridgestone Blizzak WS50. However, even though I've heard that the Blizzak's perform very well, I've also heard that they have terrible treadwear. I ordered steel wheels from our Honda dealership to mount the Hankook Ice Bears on, but they're back-ordered so the tires are just sitting my garage now.

I actually drove out to Maple Ridge in the STI after work yesterday (just at the beginning of the last storm front) to pick up the tires. Despite the falling snow and busy traffic, the trip wasn't that bad. The STI just performs so well in these slippery conditions especially because of the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD). (The picture on the left shows the Japanese-spec control switches. On the North American STI's, the dial and the switch are reversed.) It allows me to adjust the torque split between the front and rear axles. When it's on automatic, the computer puts the power when and where it's needed. In the snow I switch the DCCD to full LOCK and I'm able to power through throttle-induced slides with great ease. It's a blast! I guess the STI's rally-car heritage really shines in these types of road conditions :0)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Informed For Life - Saving Lives Through Knowledge

Informed For Life -- This very interesting web site was posted on the Odyclub. It uses published statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings as well as fatality data to calculate a single score that is comparable across vehicle weight classes.

I'm glad to say that the 2006 Honda Odyssey did quite well.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Garden lights and falling snow

Garden lights and falling snow
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
I used a combination of a long exposure, zoom, flash, and manual focus to limit the depth of field and make the illumination from the garden and the falling snowflakes appear as circles of light.

The full scene is available here.

First snowfall 2006

Fun in the Snow 2 - 2006
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
I'm so glad I put the winter tires on the Subaru last week. We had our first snowfall last night and it was a doozy. Weather forecasters had predicted a storm with 20-30 cm of snow this weekend and being up where we are on the mountain, we got a lot more than that. It started yesterday afternoon and as of now it hasn't stopped.

We were thinking of buying winter tires for the Hondy Odyssey, but since the Subaru STI has a set of Hankook Ice Bears, there's really no reason for us to do it right now. I packed the family in the STI this morning and found an empty parking lot to make sure--ahem--the tires were working properly. I'm really happy with the performance of the Subaru STI and the Hankook Ice Bears--they had lots of grip and even at the limits of adhesion there was lots of control.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

YouTube - I Love You Impreza STi

Brembo Brakes
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
YouTube - I Love You Impreza STi

ELD4AU6 over at told me that he saw some pictures of mine in a video hosted on YouTube. I was surprised to see it there. They were some of the photos I've posted in my Flickr gallery and I'm flattered that someone took the effort to use them to make their video.

Monday, November 20, 2006

2006 Subaru STI - 16217 km - Winter tires installed

With the series of storms passing through here the last couple of weeks, the local mountains have been getting a lot of snow. Whistler Mountain was even able to open up their ski runs earlier than the originally-planned US Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

It's still warm where we are but I thought this weekend was a good time to install the winter tires back on the Subaru STI--just in case the temperature drops. It will also give me a good excuse to look for some snow :0).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sun in morning fog

Sun in morning fog
Originally uploaded by istargazer.
I took this picture back in October one morning but didn't get a chance to process it until last week. I found out today that it was placed in Flickr's "Explore" photos for Nov. 8, 2006. It's best viewed as a full-sized image.

Note: The Flickr link is dynamic so I saved one of the page views in PDF format.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

R32Argent's VW R32

R32Argent: Road-trip: Skyline Drive - My brother took his Volkswagen R32 on a road trip yesterday to Shenandoah National Park. His car is another one of the things that influenced me to dump our massive Toyota Sequoia Limited. The Sequoia simply had no character and drove like an appliance (reliable, but boring). Unfortunately, the VW R32 is not available in Canada, so the selection of pumped-up fun cars is limited. That's why I decided to go all the way and get the Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from yesterday....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2006 Honda Odyssey - 1381 km - Tighten Fuel Cap Update

RE: Tighten Fuel Cap message in multi-information display

Well the "Tighten Fuel Cap" message finally went out on our 2006 Honda Odyssey Touring after 5 days, 241 km, 1/2 tank of gas, and numerous restarts. The owner's manual stated that it would reset itself after certain conditions were met, but other Odyssey owners on the forums listed all sorts of other situations that had to happen before the error message cleared. Some took it to their dealer who reset it for them. Some even had to have their gas caps replaced. I simply continued to drive as normal, which unfortunately consisted mostly of short trips and slow speeds. I even filled up the tank with gas. What I think has to happen to reset the message is several good steady stretches of driving at highway speeds with the engine at normal operating temperatures and cooling down in between.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

2006 Honda Odyssey - 1140 km - Tighten Fuel Cap

I got this "Tighten Fuel Cap" error message on the Honda Odyssey today after work.

I stopped at the side of the road and checked the cap by removing it and putting it back on. The message did not go away. I restarted it a number of times hoping to clear the error but that didn't work either.

First hiccup? The thing is I'm usually pretty careful about tightening the cap and making it click several times. I do admit on the last fill up, I thought the leash for the cap was twisted a bit strangely around the cap. I didn't bother to re-do it at the time.

After checking the 2006 Honda Odyssey owner's manual, this is what it says on page 82 about the Tighten Fuel Cap message:
should go off after tightening the
fuel cap, turning the ignition switch
off and on, then driving over 30 mph
(48 km/h) for at least 45 seconds.
Due to different driving conditions, it
may take a few driving trips to make
the message go off.

If a loose or missing fuel cap was not
the cause of the TIGHTEN FUEL
CAP message coming on, the
message will turn off and the
malfunction indicator lamp will
come on. If this happens, have your
vehicle checked by your dealer as
soon as possible.
So I guess I'll need to drive it a few more times and see what happens.

UPDATE: 6 November 2006 - 1381 km

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