Thanks Punisha and Romo, I drive one of the newer Camrys and it's pretty darn heavy so i'm not worried about it being too light, I was just worried about my tires not being able to handle the cold... I'm just bracing myself for the coldness/snow
Just wanted to help out in clarifying in case others had the same question regarding drivability in the snow:
For your specific car, fl0w and others gave good advice in telling you that you shouldn't worry about driving in non-blizzard-like snow conditions in a Camry with new all-season (A/S) tires. However, with no offense to any parties at all (and I personally know fl0w in real life except I’m just a lurker here, so s/he doesn’t know my TLS handle, but fl0w will know that I’m not here to call out others), it's not a good idea to blindly follow such advice for all types of cars ... So, the rest of this post is for others with the same question:
Someone above mentioned that she drove a "sports car" with slicks/summer tires in Midwestern snow ... I would say that it would be best to take that at face value because any two-door car, including a FWD Mitsubishi Eclipse with 18” wheels, 160 bhp, and 160 ft-lbs, would be a “sports car” to a layman. Anyways …
If you drive a front-wheel drive (FWD), all-wheel drive (AWD), or four-wheel drive (4WD) (and yes, there is a difference between AWD and 4WD) vehicle, then all-season tires should be good enough for you to drive normally in the snow. For a quick reference: Almost all current-model Asian cars that have four doors are FWD, and all Volkswagen/Audi are either FWD or AWD (Torsen or Haldex).
If you drive a rear-wheel drive (RWD) car, then I'd highly, highly suggest getting all-season tires, at the minimum
, for the winter season. To further that, if your RWD produces high torque (around 300 ft-lbs or more at the crank), then it's almost imperative to have at least A/S tires for the cold season. Ideally, for such cars, you’d want to keep your summer tires for the warm weather and have a set of steelies with snow tires for the cold weather. If you have no idea, look up your car specifications to find out rather than run the risk of assuming that your car is FWD. For a quick reference: BMW and Porsche cars are never FWD (whether two-door or four-door, although some are AWD), and most other wide-bodied two-door cars, regardless or the make, will also never be FWD.
I just thought it’s important to note the differences because I personally think this topic is an important subject that most people overlook (i.e. remember on the first day of snow how there were at least five separate car collisions on Forest Park Parkway despite only one inch of snow?).
For a personal benchmark: I’ve predominately lived in the East Coast, but have been in St. Louis longer than most other WashU Law students. I drive a high horsepower, high torque RWD two-seater with ultra-high performance summer (UHPS) tires. Without any snow at all, I’ve already experienced several occasions when my rear slipped out in the cold weather (sub-40 degree weather) even though I wasn’t driving spiritedly at all (I drive extremely cautiously when the weather is not ideal).
One time, I was on Page Blvd (a little North of the Danforth and South40 campuses), and it just started to snow. My car started to slip out immediately as I pulled out of a parking lot from a restaurant and almost couldn’t make it up the ramp onto the main road (think maybe 3 mm of snow and I had to turn off all my traction control systems to force the power from cutting off to my rear wheels).
All but one of my friends with cars similar to mine switched out for A/S tires and can manage well in moderate snow as long as minimum power is brought to the wheels.
I personally didn’t feel like dishing out $800 for A/S tires when each of my UHPS tires was over $225, and I can just use my U-Pass to ride the shuttle to school for free during snow days. I can’t thank WashU more for providing the U-Pass system (albeit from our tuitions probably) on snowy days.
On the flip-side, my friend, who didn’t change to A/S, drives the current BMW M3 (a little less than 300 ft-lbs of torque) with summer tires, and until 2010, he was able to drive at <10 mph on flat roads back and forth from Brentwood Villas/Allegro and Danforth campus when he absolutely had to. None of my friends are sure how he actually managed to do so, but there’s no way he could’ve if he had to do stop-and-go traffic on hilly roads.
Anyways, this post ended up being long than I imagined … Like I said before, I really felt that this issue was highly overlooked (probably because most people drive FWD cars and will have little problems with the snow), and I hope that the post helps out others with questions about driving in the snow. Again, no offense to any of my colleagues who have greatly and generously dedicated a lot of time to help others.