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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Accepting the Absolute Necessity of Snow Tires

Having experienced the terror of winter driving with the stock Dunlops, I switched them out for the much-loved BFGOODRICH G-FORCE COMP-2 A/S SL. They were superb for a while, though with every passing week/month, they start feeling more like the Dunlops, as y'all warned me.

I was forced to drive through that freak snowstorm a few weeks ago in the northeast, and it still felt life-in-hands. Could not get up a mild, snow-plowed hill even with a running start. This car just does not like snow.

So two questions:

1. Why doesn't every single Mazda 6 owner (in even marginally snowy areas) switch to snow tires each winter?

2. Which ones do you recommend?

FWIW, I'm in NY Tristate, with a 2015 Mazda 6 Touring
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 03:34 PM
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I drive about 40K miles/year in Michigan and Northern Indiana. I completely agree - everyone who says "All season tires are good for ALL SEASONS" has never really tried snow tires. The difference is eye-opening.

I've had two different snow tires on my 2016 6. I started with the Pirelli Winter Sottozero Serie II. (I bought the car in February and drove it immediately to Tire Rack for winter wheels/tires.) The Pirellis were decent winter tires in year 1, but thoroughly mediocre after year 2. I wasn't really pleased with how quickly they wore.

My current winter tires are the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, and I love them. I'm on my second winter with these, and they were great in the recent snowstorms. I put the same tires on my wife's Sentra last winter, and she's now a snow tire convert.

I also hear great things about Nokians, especially if you need a true snow tire for deep snow. I opted for the Michelins because they were considerably cheaper, very well-reviewed, and seemed more targeted for the kind of winter highway driving that I do. They're smooth, quiet, get great mileage for winter tires, and still provide great grip and stopping on icy roads.

For the record, I switch to 17" winter wheels. Snow tires are much cheaper in 17", and a little extra air under the wheels really helps smooth out the ride. Although NY tends to do a much better job than Michigan with road repair

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Last edited by hunter186; 12-03-2018 at 04:02 PM. Reason: typo
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
1. Why doesn't every single Mazda 6 owner (in even marginally snowy areas) switch to snow tires each winter?
I've found it's usually one of three reasons:
1. They have an AWD vehicle/winter rat that they choose to drive on the rough days.
2. They've never experienced driving on winter tires themselves, and therefore are oblivious to the HUGE traction and control advantage that winter tires offer, even over an AWD crossover with "all-season" tires.
3. They claim to "not have the storage space", winter tires are "too expensive", or any other cheap excuse to justify in their heads why not to get them.

Frankly, they're REQUIRED BY LAW in other countries, and I believe they should be here as well, no matter what vehicle you drive, but I digress...
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Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
2. Which ones do you recommend?
I also can vouch for the X-Ice Xi3. I had them on my previous 6 (a 2010), and they were fantastic in the snow! They offered immense grip and control in just about any type of snow, from slushy areas to deeper snow you find in untouched parking lots. I had them for 4 seasons, putting about 7-8K miles per season on them, and they've NEVER left me stuck or stranded. I also liked them because they were H-speed rated, and they handled well in the dry and warmer days as well. They never felt soft or squirmy, unlike other winter tires I've driven/owned.

I currently inherited a set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS80s when I bought a set of MSW wheels for my '18. And so far, so good. They're a couple seasons old, but have about 80% tread left on them. The few snowy/slushy/miserable driving days I've driven have been uneventful, giving traction and control as well as the Xi3's did, but I've found on the warmer and drier days, I don't feel as confident with them as the Xi3's when I wanted to have a little fun. Granted it's still early in the year, I'll see how they last throughout the winter...

I also recommend downsizing to 17" wheels for winter. The bi-annual swap is much easier (and less expensive if you can't do it yourself), and the tires themselves will be MUCH less expensive than 19" tires, so much that a set of cheaper wheels and new 17" tires may be less expensive than buying a set of 19" winter tires by themselves. It was in my case anyway...


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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
1. Why doesn't every single Mazda 6 owner (in even marginally snowy areas) switch to snow tires each winter?

2. Which ones do you recommend?

FWIW, I'm in NY Tristate, with a 2015 Mazda 6 Touring
Change that to "why doesn't ANY driver in ANY vehicle where it snows" and I'm with you.

Most people these days (modern so-called "all season" tires) have NEVER driven a car with snow tires in the snow. Do it just once and you'll never not do it again.

I grew up before there was such a thing as so-called "M+S All-season" tires. I put snows on when the first snow was seen and on they stayed until it was gone. It's a huge difference.

Buy a set of STEEL wheels too. Your nice wheels will thank you when you hammer a big pothole (caused by said ice and snow!) and don't destroy said nice wheel. The steelies are cheap and MUCH stronger. Oh, and 17" please -- it's idiotic to run low-profile snows (do they even make them?)

The only serious issue is where you store said set of tires and wheels in the summer. If you have a garage, no problem. If not that be a material problem. But it's one you really do need to solve if you live where it snows.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by tickerguy View Post
The only serious issue is where you store said set of tires and wheels in the summer. If you have a garage, no problem. If not that be a material problem. But it's one you really do need to solve if you live where it snows.
I believe that many of the tire stores will store wheels/tires in the offseason for you. I've never used the service, but some co-workers have. From a little googling, one local tire chain charges $85/year to store wheels/tires and to swap wheels twice/year.

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
This car just does not like snow.
It's not the car, it's the tires. Pretty much all cars, FWD especially, suck in the snow without good winter tires. Depending on your area you might need studded ones to boot.

I have Dean Wintercats on our Mazda5 and they are studded. I got them for cheap off Facebook Marketplace. They accelerate so-so but stop on a dime in snow and slush, and stopping ability is what really matters to me with snow tires. They are incredibly LOUD on bare roads but it's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all.

I'm flinging follow-ups to the thread, generally:

1. I have 19" wheels (225/45ZR-19). Can I really just throw on 17" ones?

2. Where do I buy the wheels? Can I get them from TireRack (where I'll order the tires)? I use a mechanic, not a tire store.

3.Yeah, I've seen lots of raves for the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (though they might all have come from you same guys!). My area has long, long dry spells in winter, so I need tires that are ok in non-snowy conditions. I guess I'd get the 225/55R17s (they don't come in 19")?

4. I don't have a garage, but do have a semi-exposed, unheated shed. Can I get away with keeping wheels in the basement and tires in the shed?

5. I've been driving 35 years in this area, including 4 years in Rochester, NY, and never before felt so compelled to get snow tires. Honda Accord, Ford Escort, Mazda Protege, and Toyota Camry were reasonably decent in all-season tires, though certainly not in any sort of deep build-up (and with the acknowledgement that winter driving would have been way better with snow tires). The Mazda 6 is by very far the worst on snow/ice I've ever experienced. Horrific on Dunlops, and only a notch or two better on these BFGs.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
Thanks all.

I'm flinging follow-ups to the thread, generally:

1. I have 19" wheels (225/45ZR-19). Can I really just throw on 17" ones?

2. Where do I buy the wheels? Can I get them from TireRack (where I'll order the tires)? I use a mechanic, not a tire store.

3.Yeah, I've seen lots of raves for the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (though they might all have come from you same guys!). My area has long, long dry spells in winter, so I need tires that are ok in non-snowy conditions. I guess I'd get the 225/55R17s (they don't come in 19")?

4. I don't have a garage, but do have a semi-exposed, unheated shed. Can I get away with keeping wheels in the basement and tires in the shed?

5. I've been driving 35 years in this area, including 4 years in Rochester, NY, and never before felt so compelled to get snow tires. Honda Accord, Ford Escort, Mazda Protege, and Toyota Camry were reasonably decent in all-season tires, though certainly not in any sort of deep build-up (and with the acknowledgement that winter driving would have been way better with snow tires). The Mazda 6 is by very far the worst on snow/ice I've ever experienced. Horrific on Dunlops, and only a notch or two better on these BFGs.
I've used snows since I bought my first new car in 1994. There was one year where I decided to try doing without and regretted it. Every Mazda I've owned has been great in the snow. And ANY car will suck in the snow without snow tires. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise. Its just the way it is given the need for tires to stay pliable and soft when it gets cold. Its chemistry and physics man. And physics ALWAYS wins.

Not sure why you think you need to keep wheels and tires separately. Once they are mounted they remain mounted until they wear out. That's the beauty of getting a second set of wheels for snows.

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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
1. I have 19" wheels (225/45ZR-19). Can I really just throw on 17" ones?

3.Yeah, I've seen lots of raves for the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (though they might all have come from you same guys!). My area has long, long dry spells in winter, so I need tires that are ok in non-snowy conditions. I guess I'd get the 225/55R17s (they don't come in 19")?
Yes, and yes. Stick with a set of 17x7.5 wheels and the stock size 225/55-17s. That way, you'll be well within the 2% tolerance of the circumference and diameter of the OEM 19"s.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
2. Where do I buy the wheels? Can I get them from TireRack (where I'll order the tires)? I use a mechanic, not a tire store.
Yes. TireRack is a reliable source for a good winter wheel/tire set. Discount Tire is also a good source.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
4. I don't have a garage, but do have a semi-exposed, unheated shed. Can I get away with keeping wheels in the basement and tires in the shed?
Keep the tires mounted on the wheels, and you can store them either in the shed or the basement, and stack them on top of each other if needed, just as long as you can store them on their sides.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmbo View Post
5. I've been driving 35 years in this area, including 4 years in Rochester, NY, and never before felt so compelled to get snow tires. Honda Accord, Ford Escort, Mazda Protege, and Toyota Camry were reasonably decent in all-season tires, though certainly not in any sort of deep build-up (and with the acknowledgement that winter driving would have been way better with snow tires). The Mazda 6 is by very far the worst on snow/ice I've ever experienced. Horrific on Dunlops, and only a notch or two better on these BFGs.
Based on the previous rides you listed, it sounds as if you were driving higher-profile wheels/tires, which are generally narrower with a taller sidewall. These type of tires are more ideal for winter driving, since a narrower tire can "dig" down through the snow more efficiently to gain traction, while the taller sidewalls help to cushion the rougher pavement and promote snow traction.

This is also another advantage to getting 17" wheels/tires, instead of using the lower-profile 19" wheels.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 09:58 PM
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I have a 2003 Dodge Durango 4.7 AWD for the winter. My 1st gen was good with winter tires, horrible with A/S tires in winter weather.

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