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Old 11-02-2011, 05:01 PM   #1
tim330i
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Winter Wheel and Tire Time for BMW Owners in Snow Belt

BMW E46 winter tires

For those of us in the snow belt of the country it is sadly time to put away our summer shoes and bolt our winter wheels and tires. While we'll miss the look of our hot summer rims and sporty tires the winter traction that a dedicated snow tire provides cannot be understated.

As usual this time of year threads are cropping up on the forum asking how well our rear wheel drive BMWs can handle in the snow. In a perfect world we would all have winter cars with 4 wheel drive and raised ground clearance. Not only would that give us increased winter weather drive-ability but it would also keep our babies free of intense winter road grim, salt and sand.

As we don't live in a perfect work and a second car has ownership, maintenance, insurance, registration and other costs associated with it many, myself included brave the winter in their E46! There will always be huge winter storm that will keep my car in the garage, but would you really be out in your SUV anyways? For 99% of the winter storms we get here in Boston or in my native state of MN a solid set of winter tires are all your BMW needs. My E46 M3 has more traction and grip with snow tires then a front wheel drive cars with all season tires. For more info on the difference between winter tire and all seasons watch the video at the bottom.

So if you've been worried about driving your E46 this winter I suggest you simply consider a set of winter wheels and tires. For an extreme example of how well the E46 can handle the snow watch this video of an E46 M3 owner enjoying the winter -



Winter driving, in any car, does require extra care. Getting stuck in the cold can be dangerous so run through this check list before the cold and snow comes!

Tip #1 - Check Your Tires for Wear
It is common knowledge that you should generally replace your tires when the tread has been worn down to about 2/32" left on the tire. While this is generally true, if you are planning on encountering snowy roads, you may want to consider replacements if your tread is less than 6/32".

So how do you check your tread depth? All you really need is a US penny (and possibly a US quarter). You can find all the details and pictures describing this at:
Measuring Tire Tread Depth with a Coin @ TireRack.com

If you find that you are in need of some new tires or if you are looking to get a dedicated set of winter tires and wheels, take a look at what TireRack has to offer for the winter season. You can use the Upgrade Garage to quickly locate a set of wheels and/or tires that will work for your car. Click the link below to get started!

Tip #2 -- Check Your Tire Pressures
Make sure you check your tire pressures on those winter tires; you can lose up to 5psi of pressure from summer to winter months and it can have a huge impact on the tires. If you are lucky enough to have your car parked in an attached or heated garage, be aware that you will lose air pressure when transitioning to the outdoors. According to TireRack.com, you should add 1 psi of "cold" tire pressure to compensate for each 10 degree temperature difference!

Tip #3 - Check Your Windshield Wipers and Windshield Wiper Reservoir
The winter months can wreak havoc on a set of windshield wipers and it is likely that you haven't replaced yours in quite some time. Make sure you inspect your wipers for damage where the wiper meets the windshield. You want to make sure that you wipers are going to do a good job clearing moisture away - especially if you get caught out in a particularly nasty storm.

You will want to keep an eye on the level of your windshield washer fluid reservoir too; drivers go through a very high amount of fluid clearing off the fluids and salts state/federal agencies use to de-ice roadways. Don't get caught out on the road without any windshield washer fluid!

Tip #4 - Check All Your Lights!
This seems like a silly step that most people would notice but the winter months and potential for extremely low visibility make this step even more important. Grab a friend, wife, neighbor or fellow enthusiast and have them help you check that all your lights are working on your car. You could probably manage this on your own but it will go a lot quicker with someone there helping you.

Tip #5 - Put Together a Winter Emergency Kit
You never know when you are going to get stuck on the roadways during a storm - accidents happen and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. Take a few minutes to put together an emergency kit that will fit nicely into a duffle bag or back pack in the trunk of your car. Some ideas on what to include are:
  • Flashlight - yes, one that is better than the one provided by BMW with your car!
  • First Aid Kit
  • Gloves, Hat, Blanket(s)
  • Ice Scraper
  • Jumper Cables
  • Possibly even some food that will last like granola bars, energy bars, etc.
  • Be creative and think of what you might need if you were stranded!

And as a last tip, don't wait like I did to put your snow wheels and tires on your BMW until after it is snowing

Comparison video of an E90 BMW 3 series sedan with summer, all season and winter tires

Last edited by tim330i; 11-02-2011 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:22 PM   #2
halik007
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60 in chicago today - way too soon for winter tires. I run 215 blizzaks all around on my m3, they'd literally be gone by the end of the week.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:45 PM   #3
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Some parts of Iowa got snow today, but we just has rain/freezing rain. Supposed to get a few flakes overnight tonight, but with a high of 55 tomorrow it should stick around long. To be honest I am looking forward to my snow tires. The RFTs on my summer wheels ride like crap. Can't wait till they are burned up so I can replace them!

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Old 11-02-2011, 11:02 PM   #4
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the black e90 had awd. jk, pretty cool vid.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:16 PM   #5
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Anybody here have experience with rust proofing their car year after year that can provide insight whether i should do so or not..?

Thanks
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:36 AM   #6
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Tim, where in Minnesota are you from!?
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:42 AM   #7
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Florida LOL

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Old 11-03-2011, 01:13 AM   #8
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I'll tell you what, after a few days of snow here in Alaska and driving my 323ci (not xi) I am convinced that these well balanced, winter tire shod e46's will outperform half of the crap 4x4 and AWD cars out there. This is my first rear wheel drive car and am amazed with how well it handles here.
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattyew View Post
Anybody here have experience with rust proofing their car year after year that can provide insight whether i should do so or not..?

Thanks
Worth it!!!

i just got my car done at Krown for a total of $120. Been going there for the past 5 years. No problems what so ever!

Seeing you are from Ottawa you should have a Krown around you.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:34 PM   #10
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last Iowa winter my wife stuck her Lexus GX470 (equipped with 20" Prada Spec X all-seasons) big time on an un-plowed street. I drove right up to her car to get her in my 330i with snows. Now she wants snows on the stock 17" Lexus wheels!
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:54 PM   #11
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just put my snow shoes on today!

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Old 11-08-2011, 12:16 AM   #12
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Just finished installing black steels and graspics on my xi wagon. The car did fine even with the crappy no-season tires, but I'm looking forward to passing the damn snow plows that make the road more slippery while passing out rust candy. I think this may actually do better in the snow than my Toyo MRS with snows, although not as fun. Having the engine over the rear drive wheels was great, you couldn't steer, but that's what the gas pedal was for! Ah, I love this time of the year, when I can drift without the physical stresses.
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:18 AM   #13
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Emergency kit should also include: rope to tie around self if venturing too far from car in blizzard, emergency cell phone charger, bottles of water, ceramic heaters are good just make sure you let in some air every few minutes. Fanatics in warm weather may not understand but all these and previously mentioned items do save lives in a snow storm.

BTW. i put new Eagle GT all seasons on my Xi and they rocked in the snow!

Last edited by tcek; 11-08-2011 at 08:19 AM. Reason: added tire comment
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:41 PM   #14
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I usually put the snows on around Thanksgiving to Dec. 15, depending upon the weather forecast. It was over 60 degrees today, so still too early.
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:57 PM   #15
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Just put the snows on today... its been raining no stop for 2 days, but its supposed to turn to freezing rain tonight then snow.... supposedly getting 1 to 4 inches tonight. I forgot how much my factory wheels look like poopy. :'(

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Old 11-08-2011, 11:47 PM   #16
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Bridgestone Blizzak on SE wheels and my 330ci is like a HumVee in the snow. My 2001 had never been in the snow....then with the weird storm in New England this October....we got caught...but I had the Blizzak's at all four wheels...and the little silver coupe and me were all that were on the road with SUV and 4 Wheel Pickups and Plows. The Blizzaks are Fabulous ( the best seller in Japan) and the SE wheels look RAD for 500 bucks. Most Recommended.
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tqui6@verizon.net View Post
Bridgestone Blizzak on SE wheels and my 330ci is like a HumVee in the snow. My 2001 had never been in the snow....then with the weird storm in New England this October....we got caught...but I had the Blizzak's at all four wheels...and the little silver coupe and me were all that were on the road with SUV and 4 Wheel Pickups and Plows. The Blizzaks are Fabulous ( the best seller in Japan) and the SE wheels look RAD for 500 bucks. Most Recommended.
What are SE wheels?
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:00 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by halik007 View Post
60 in chicago today - way too soon for winter tires. I run 215 blizzaks all around on my m3, they'd literally be gone by the end of the week.
If you don't really open the taps and let roll, quality studless tyres should be fine and even studded ones if you don't powerslide or do burnouts.

Here in Finland it's really late for snow, but still changed mine to Hakkapeliitta RSi studless winter tyres yesterday. Snow isn't far away anyway and at the end of november it's mandatory by law to use winter tyres.

BTW do any NA E46s have the cold weather kits installed?
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Old 11-10-2011, 05:00 PM   #19
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Is it necessary to put snow tires on the front wheels too, considering they don't do any of the work? Or would I be okay just getting snow tires on the back and leaving sport tires on the front? Not sure I really have the money to spend on a full set, but I feel like I'll regret it if I don't. Thanks guys
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Old 11-10-2011, 05:11 PM   #20
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you steer with the front wheels, obviously that's a bad idea. You'd be safer with all seasons all around than two winters i bet
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