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Thread: Advice for snow/winter tires

                  
   
  1. #1
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    Advice for snow/winter tires

    I have a 2011 535i and am looking for advice about purchasing new tires for the winter months here in DC.
    1) do I even need a separate set of tires & wheels?
    2) if so, do I want winter tires as BMW is advertising or a true snow tire?
    3) either way, where can one order inexpensive (I know that sounds funny) sets of tires?
    Thanks for any advice.
    Van

  2. #2
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    1) Yes, it just makes things easier long-term.
    2) Winter/snow tires are the same thing. I use studless Bridgestone Blizzaks, but there are several options from different tire companies. If you're considering a true snow tire that you put studs in, that is completely unnecessary in this area IMO.
    3) Tirerack.com

    Another few points you may want to consider is: how often do you plan to drive in the snow? do you have to drive on the average of 5-10 (commuter/weekday) days of real snow we get in this area?

    If you ski/snowboard or have to drive everyday, I'd say it's worth it. If not, you MAY be able to get by with all-seasons and working from home and/or taking public transportation.

  3. #3
    Senior Member pseto's Avatar
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    I second a set of Blizzaks. Note that while Tire Rack is a good place to start, quantities will start to diminish the longer you wait. You can also check Craigslist or other BMW forums with classified sections (BimmerFest, bimmerforums, bimmerpost, etc) as there's a decent market for BMW rims/tires online. A decent set should run $1000-1400 new for mounted/balanced winters on rims.

    Keep in mind that while we may not always get a lot of snow, we get our fair share of low temps and black ice. Winter tires provide more traction than summer or all-seasons.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    I know Blizzaks have changed since I last used them. Back in my day I found them to be very squirmy on dry surfaces.
    Great in snow, crappy on dry.

    When I lived in the area I ran a set of Vredesteins. Don't remember the particular model.
    I found them to be almost as good as the Blizzaks in the snow but much better on dry.

    I think it depends on how much driving you will be doing in the snow.
    I had snows to get me home from work, not to get me to work.
    I wouldn't trust driving on the streets in bad conditions. It's bad enough in the rain, let alone snow.
    With all the behemoth SUVs running around, it's just better to stay out of their way since they think they the rules of physics do not apply.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by vmorfit View Post
    I have a 2011 535i and am looking for advice about purchasing new tires for the winter months here in DC.
    1) do I even need a separate set of tires & wheels?
    2) if so, do I want winter tires as BMW is advertising or a true snow tire?
    3) either way, where can one order inexpensive (I know that sounds funny) sets of tires?
    Thanks for any advice.
    Van
    1) If you have all season tires then no you probably do not need anything else. If you have high performance summer tires then you need something. The summer tires are not great but works okay in the winter time if the roads are dry. If there is ice or snow on the ground then they are useless and you will be stuck where you are.
    2) I have a separate set of tires and wheels mounted with Dunlop high performance snow tires. They do not take studs. As others have said, studs are not needed in this area.
    3) I've bought two sets of winter tires from Tire rack. They are cheap and ship fast. Your UPS guy will hate you though. Mounted wheels are heavy.

  6. #6
    Member thotts's Avatar
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    I'm also looking for winter tires, while receiving a lot of email from dealers referring to BMW Approved Tires. Is there any difference between the BMW "star" tire and the tires that you'd get from another source without the star?

    Thanks.
    - Gina -

    If you do not trust people, people will not trust you. -Lao Tzu-

  7. #7
    Member bobesser's Avatar
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    Bob's winter tire primer: There are basically three things that will affect performance in winter: Tread compound, tread void, and sipes.

    Tread compound: Tire manufacturers engineer this to be flexible (but not too flexible) within a certain temperature range. Unfortunately, if it is flexible from 50F to 100F, it will be very inflexible (glassy almost) at low temperatures. Similarly, a tire engineered for flexibility from -20 to 50 will be too flexible at higher temperatures (greasy).

    Tread void: Essentially, how much can it grab the snow. Think of the difference between a performance summer tire and a big knobby jeep tire.

    Sipes: Sipes are the little zigzaggy lines cut into the treadblock on the tires. Summer tires don't have any, winter tires have lots. Sipes help grab smooth, slick surfaces like ice or packed snow.

    When choosing a winter wheel/tire set, lean towards tall, narrow tires - this allows the tire to really dig into the snow. If possible, get one or two sizes smaller diameter wheel - as long as it fits over the brakes.

    I have driven on three winter tires:
    Hankook Icebears: Great snow tire and inexpensive. (Lots of tread void and sipes) I was unstoppable in snow in Syracuse, NY! My car at the time was a Dodge SRT-4 with 17" stock wheels. I bought these on 15" rims. On the highway with no snow, they felt a little squirmy and made some noise, but, never dangerous. (but, I wouldn't hotrod them).

    Micheline Alpine 3: These are really a performance tire with a low temperature compound and some sipes. (not much tread void but lots of sipes) They were fine on cleared roads, but, I had trouble getting from cleared roads to the driveway. Car was a 1996 Porsche 911 with stock 17" tire fitment.

    Bridgestone Blizzack LM 60: Currently running these on my 2006 M3. I have not driven them in the snow yet, but, they appear to be more on the Hankook Icebear side vs. the Alpine side of the scale. (lots of tread void and sipes) I have them in the stock 18" fitment. They are not too noisy on the road but they also do not handle like a sport tire. On the drive in today at 19F, I did not notice any issues with the tire getting hard or reduced traction (you would definitely notice this on a summer tire).

    Bob
    Last edited by bobesser; 01-05-2012 at 08:39 AM. Reason: corrected tire type

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobesser View Post
    Bob's winter tire primer: There are basically three things that will affect performance in winter: Tread compound, tread void, and sipes.

    Tread compound: Tire manufacturers engineer this to be flexible (but not too flexible) within a certain temperature range. Unfortunately, if it is flexible from 50F to 100F, it will be very inflexible (glassy almost) at low temperatures. Similarly, a tire engineered for flexibility from -20 to 50 will be too flexible at higher temperatures (greasy).

    Tread void: Essentially, how much can it grab the snow. Think of the difference between a performance summer tire and a big knobby jeep tire.

    Sipes: Sipes are the little zigzaggy lines cut into the treadblock on the tires. Summer tires don't have any, winter tires have lots. Sipes help grab smooth, slick surfaces like ice or packed snow.

    When choosing a winter wheel/tire set, lean towards tall, narrow tires - this allows the tire to really dig into the snow. If possible, get one or two sizes smaller diameter wheel - as long as it fits over the brakes.

    I have driven on three winter tires:
    Hankook Icebears: Great snow tire and inexpensive. (Lots of tread void and sipes) I was unstoppable in snow in Syracuse, NY! My car at the time was a Dodge SRT-4 with 17" stock wheels. I bought these on 15" rims. On the highway with no snow, they felt a little squirmy and made some noise, but, never dangerous. (but, I wouldn't hotrod them).

    Micheline Alpine 3: These are really a performance tire with a low temperature compound and some sipes. (not much tread void but lots of sipes) They were fine on cleared roads, but, I had trouble getting from cleared roads to the driveway. Car was a 1996 Porsche 911 with stock 17" tire fitment.

    Bridgestone Blizzack: Currently running these on my 2006 M3. I have not driven them in the snow yet, but, they appear to be more on the Hankook Icebear side vs. the Alpine side of the scale. (lots of tread void and sipes) I have them in the stock 18" fitment. They are not too noisy on the road but they also do not handle like a sport tire. On the drive in today at 19F, I did not notice any issues with the tire getting hard or reduced traction (you would definitely notice this on a summer tire).

    Bob
    To be honest, the Hankook Icebear is a performance-ish winter tire. They just have super, super soft sidewalls. Also, just stating Blizzak isn't really informative. There are different types of Blizzaks depending on need.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  9. #9
    Member bobesser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd View Post
    To be honest, the Hankook Icebear is a performance-ish winter tire. They just have super, super soft sidewalls. Also, just stating Blizzak isn't really informative. There are different types of Blizzaks depending on need.
    Was the Blizzak LM 60. Corrected original post. Strange on the Icebears - I looked them up just now and I agree with you, but my memory of the tires I ran in 2005 they seemed *very* knobby. Could they have changed the tread that much?

    Bob

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobesser View Post
    Was the Blizzak LM 60. Corrected original post. Strange on the Icebears - I looked them up just now and I agree with you, but my memory of the tires I ran in 2005 they seemed *very* knobby. Could they have changed the tread that much?

    Bob
    I had a set of icebears in 2005 as well, and they were the same. IIRC, the snow-snow tire was the ipike. Maybe you had those?
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



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