Let me start by saying I love our 2007 Civic Hybrid, but I am having a problem now that winter has settled in up here in Ontario Canada.
First a little history. We just had our rear tires replaced. The official service documents stated that they were "chopped" - due to abnormal wear.
First snowfall of the season, we couldn't drive our car as it wandered all over the road whenever there was any snow on it. If the right side tires were riding on any snow at all, it would turn to the left (onto oncoming traffic )
So we took it back for a wheel alignment. The problem is not as noticable now, but the other day we had poor road conditions, with partially ice covered spots. While we were driving the rear of the car would oscillate left and right as we drove.
In deeper snow/slush it actually drives pretty straight.
Here's a suggestion for winter tires. I live in Maine, and so winter traction is a must. I bought a 2008 HCH last month, but I chose not to risk using the OEM Dunlops. I bought a set of Nokian WR G2's. Nokian advertises them as "All-Weather" tires, which means you could use them year-round. Yet they surpass the US govermnent's winter traction standards so that they can be labeled as snow tires. I had the chance to test them out in our first snowstorm last week, and they are good. They aren't cheap - I paid $110 US per tire - but they will do better than the Dunlops in snow and rain, they are H-rated and - get this, folks - when the roads are clear, I see no difference in fuel economy. And no, I do not inflate them over the recommended pressure. The noise levels are similar to the Dunlops, except on concrete where they are much quieter than the Dunlops. Highly recommended. I kept the Dunlops, as I'm not sure if I'll use them as my "summer" tires. Hope this helps.
There are many of us that think that Winter Tire use should be legislated in Canada. What remains to be figured out is how to make that happen. Does that mean that municipal governments will be under less pressure to plow the streets?
I don't know yet for sure. But I am certain that many accidents could be prevented/avoided if some vehicles had been able to stop in shorter distances and even retained control more effectively.
In any case, no matter how good an "All Season" tire it is still as much of a technical compromise as it is one of safety - especially in our winters streets. In some cases, particularly when the temperatures reach the single digit (+ve) Celcius their performance is absolutely abysmal.
If that is the case, then where/how do we think our LRR "all season" tires rate? I do not know exactly, but I think they rate near the bottom.
So the moral of the story: Get Winter rubber on ASAP, faster yet if you have the OEM Dunlops we get in our HCH's.
Also, like noflash stated, even the smallest mis-alignment can render the best of tires less effective.
That is why I not only recommend it to new buyers in my area, but I ALWAYS get an alignment performed on my Japan imported cars as soon I picked them up at the dealership.
In every single case, whether it is past cars, the (2006 & 2007 HCH), the 3 Prius... I always had the dealership always report some mis-alignment. In same cases it was minuscule in others it was eye-opening. If you know your physics and you value your personal safety, then I think you'll agree this is significant.
Moral of this story? It pays to factor in the alignment issues !
I just put on my Blizzacks this past weekend in preparation for the snowstorms to hit this week (yesterday and this coming sunday). So I got to try them out, this is their 4th season and they still work great. Packed snow and 5inches worth of slush (plus a packed snow base), no problems. I inflate them to 35psi (which happens to be their MAX) and still manage to get close to summer level mpg on warm days. They are a dedicated snow tire but they last a while because I only use them during the winter months.