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This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 12-11-2013, 12:02 AM   #1
AvrgeJediMaster
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Winter Driving!

Hello again!

After the wonderful responses I received last time I posted, I have elected to present to you all 3 more issues/questions! And yes I posted 3 threads with different titles to differentiate!

Winter Driving!

Thinking about taking my car up to Lake Arrowhead, and while I don't know the forecast I'd like to know how I should prepare my car (330i ZHP). Besides checking antifreeze and air pressure.

I won't be purchasing snow tires, because I don't do this often if ever. Kind of a one time thing. Plus it's SoCal!

Main question: chains for 255/35ZR 18 wheels? Suggestions? Do's/Don'ts for driving up and down ze misty mountains?

Thanks!
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:17 AM   #2
Marshmallow
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Winter Driving!

Does it even snow in SoCal? What kind of tires do you currently have? I would never put snow chains on my wheels because they couldn't damage them. I would look into the tire wraps at ECS Tuning but like snow chains, they have a maximum speed limit of about 35. Also, take it slow in the snow, don't use your brakes abruptly, and read up on snow driving. Considering where you are I'm assuming you have very little experience with snow driving and your skill represents the most important part. Too often do I see people in big 4x4 pickups spun out in the snow but RWD BMW's do just fine because of the driver.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:24 AM   #3
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If you're getting chains/cables I'd recommend these or something with low clearance, if it's snowing, then you'll most likely need to have chains on.
http://www.amazon.com/Security-Compa.../dp/B000HZA2LA

you can also get some quality windshield wiper fluid that won't freeze, lift your wipers up when you part so they don't freeze on the windshield
if you wan't to go all out you can back so blankets, water, snacks in case you get stuck in a snow storm.
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Originally Posted by Marshmallow View Post
Does it even snow in SoCal? What kind of tires do you currently have? I would never put snow chains on my wheels because they couldn't damage them. I would look into the tire wraps at ECS Tuning but like snow chains, they have a maximum speed limit of about 35. Also, take it slow in the snow, don't use your brakes abruptly, and read up on snow driving. Considering where you are I'm assuming you have very little experience with snow driving and your skill represents the most important part. Too often do I see people in big 4x4 pickups spun out in the snow but RWD BMW's do just fine because of the driver.
yes it does, 30 minutes south I can go surfing, and 30 minutes north i can go snowboarding haha

anyways, with the california law, most of the mountainous area that can have snowfall will require you to carry chains or "tire traction devices", regardless of whether you have awd, snow tires etc, they will still have you put them on if it gets to "R2"conditions. With "R1", snow tires are fine but you must have chains on you, "R3" signifies that all cars need to have chains on but usually the freeways gets closed down when it gets that bad.

You can check here for road conditions http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:54 AM   #4
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Same happens here in Arizona. Lower valley no snow but 2 hours north to Flagstaff you have snow. I never had to use snow tires. Most of the time the highway is well taken care of. One time I went to the Grand Canyon and the road was covered in snow but plowed. I did fine without tires but then again, you have to watch what you are doing, keep good distances and no heavy braking or quick turns. Oh and yes they will stop you here too to chain up or the highway will be closed.

The only other thing is your CCV, yours like mine is probably not the winter rated version. So depending on how cold it gets you can run the chance of cracking the CCV if you plan to stay like over night or a few days. I have done this once and replaced mine with the cold package.

Might think of an ice scrapper for the windshield. Some kitty litter for some traction, but don't add extra weight to the trunk, this does not help and actually does more harm than good as it lightens the front end which you need for steering.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:26 AM   #5
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you can't put on any sort of chains or cables on 18in wheels. They will scratch your wheels real good. I have stock 17'' and they got all scratched. And because the chains never sit properly, the chains rubbing on the wheels the chains will eventually break. Once they break, they will scratch your car really good.
If you have your onwer's manual, it states no chains/cables on wheels bigger than 16''. If it does not snow, you are fine. If it snows, you will be stuck for a while. I ski every winter in NCAL.
If it snows, I end up renting AWD car/suv for the weekend. OR you rent any car that can take chains.
This is an option, but I don't recommend it.
http://www.amazon.com/Thule-K-Summit...C1KRK2YAVY069P
I bought them and they flew off the first time I used them. Money literally wasted.
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:26 AM   #6
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I'd check the owner's manual recommendations regarding chains. Even with the stock tire widths, not a lot of fender lip/tire clearance and you don't want to scratch the paint on your highly desirable ZHP. What type of tires do you have? All-seasons? UHPs? Summer tires are pretty useless on ice/snow, as the compound reaches a point (glass transition point, IIRC) where the tread blocks lose elasticity and grip becomes pretty much nonexistent.
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:34 AM   #7
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Really depends on what tires you are currently running. My dad has a 98 740il, it does pretty decent in the snow but he runs sort of an all purpose tire, might call it a sport all season. The traction control helps a lot and it works out okay for him. This is my first winter with my e46 so I was anxious to try it out in the snow and see how it did. It was TERRIBLE! I have continental summer sport tires on the car and they were an absolute joke in the snow. Couldn't get stopped from going 3mph and if the tires locked at all I would start to slide sideways. There is literally no grip with these tires on packed snow. I have another rear wheel drive sports car that does much better in the snow but again it has more of an all around sport tire rather than a strictly summer tire.

Lucky for me I found a set of near new Blizzaks on CL for $200 so once my winter wheels come back from getting powder coated I will throw those on and should be fine for the winter. But I would not try to go anywhere with the current setup, just not worth the risk.

And there is no way I could fit any sort of tire chain on my car, too close to the tires with the 18's on.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:30 AM   #8
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Ultimately it's up to driver skill, but on occasion they require chains past a certain point. Be sure to put them on the drive (rear) wheels, not the front. Also, if you are spending any amount of time away from the car, lift the wipers so they don't freeze to the windshield. Also, don't operate the windows until the interior is very warm. Forcing a frozen window is bad for the regulator.

If you do lose traction, do NOT lock the brakes. A stationary wheel becomes a sled...no control.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:43 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Poundingsand View Post
Ultimately it's up to driver skill, but on occasion they require chains past a certain point. Be sure to put them on the drive (rear) wheels, not the front. Also, if you are spending any amount of time away from the car, lift the wipers so they don't freeze to the windshield. Also, don't operate the windows until the interior is very warm. Forcing a frozen window is bad for the regulator.

If you do lose traction, do NOT lock the brakes. A stationary wheel becomes a sled...no control.
Very good suggestions. Take care of those wipers and windows. And take it easy. I've never had a problem in snow because I drive slowly (not ridiculously slow) and I leave plenty of room behind the car in front of me.

Since CA requires you to get chains to go up that mountain in the snow, I would buy the kind mentioned earlier that will not damage your wheels. Living in TN, we have ungodly hot weather in summer and it has been 30 degrees or below for the last two weeks. I run 16" all-season tires, but would definitely buy some kind of chains if I were out when a big snowstorm hit.

Have fun. One of the coolest things about SoCal is having the beach and the mountains with snow.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:57 AM   #10
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for those who are not familiar with skiing in California.
People drive basically from sea level to several thousand feet up the mountains on twisty roads. Caltrans won't let you past the checkpoints without chains/cables/whatever you want to use or call them. Unless you have AWD/4x4 with at least all season tires. Lake Tahoe a popular spot in NCAL sits at over 6K feet of elevation.
OP's desired destination is at over 5k feet of elevation.

Last edited by jcns; 12-11-2013 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:52 PM   #11
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for those who are not familiar with skiing in California.
People drive basically from sea level to several thousand feet up the mountains on twisty roads. Caltrans won't let you past the checkpoints without chains/cables/whatever you want to use or call them. Unless you have AWD/4x4 with at least all season tires. Lake Tahoe a popular spot in NCAL sits at over 6K feet of elevation.
OP's desired destination is at over 5k feet of elevation.
Yup, this happened to me as I was trying to leave Reno and head back to NorCal. Checkpoint that made sure you had chains (for all-seasons/summers) or AWD/4 x 4/Snow Tires.

Luckily, I had my 4x4 truck back then...
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Old 12-11-2013, 01:20 PM   #12
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Also, don't operate the windows until the interior is very warm. Forcing a frozen window is bad for the regulator.
Helpful tip. This never crossed my mind before, although I almost never open my windows when it's that cold out.
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Old 12-11-2013, 01:38 PM   #13
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Helpful tip. This never crossed my mind before, although I almost never open my windows when it's that cold out.
Some of us smokers have been know to on occasion...
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Old 12-11-2013, 02:26 PM   #14
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That's the great thing about Cali, you can surf the waves and the mountains in the same day. Though I've never tried.

All great info, and yeah the main thing I've been thinking about is the large rear tires. Hopefully it won't snow.
Sadly I'm pretty sure I have the continental sport summer tires. It sounds like chains are also hard to find for this size, if at all since one poster said that chains wont fit at all on 18 inchers.

More research to be done. But a plan B of renting a car in the back pocket now that you guys mention it.
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Old 12-11-2013, 02:37 PM   #15
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That's the great thing about Cali, you can surf the waves and the mountains in the same day. Though I've never tried.

All great info, and yeah the main thing I've been thinking about is the large rear tires. Hopefully it won't snow.
Sadly I'm pretty sure I have the continental sport summer tires. It sounds like chains are also hard to find for this size, if at all since one poster said that chains wont fit at all on 18 inchers.

More research to be done. But a plan B of renting a car in the back pocket now that you guys mention it.
Yeah, if you do indeed have summer purpose tires I would go with the rental car if I were you.

I have been driving in the snow for 13 years, pretty good at it and this car surprised me with how bad it was on the current tires. I'm sure it will do fine with the snow tires, but with the amount of problems I was having on flat ground, I would definitely not try to take it up the mountain.
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Old 12-11-2013, 03:04 PM   #16
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I would look into the tire wraps at ECS Tuning but like snow chains, they have a maximum speed limit of about 35.
Just a heads up ISSE Snow Socks (LINK) do not meet the requirements for chains in CA, OR or WA.

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Old 12-11-2013, 04:59 PM   #17
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No way I am going to use my E46 RWD in the winter without snow tires. I have been caught with A/S on and know the difference---it is great. Tirerack has a good video on this.
Yes, if the roads are cleared well, you will do okay without snow tires. The problem is the IF. And the problem is IF the snow is blowing and it blows back onto the road after the plow clears it, even an inch will make a big difference in performance. My experience has been that with 3 inches snow you will be crippled without snows--and I am talking good experienced driver in snow.
Snows tires provide about a 40% better acceleration and STOPPING power over A/S.
Chains--not for me, too great of a chance of scratching. Also need to limit your speed to something like 30mph.
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Old 12-11-2013, 06:50 PM   #18
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Thank you ECS Tuning for the heads up on the chain requirements for CA. That's a very important point. Especially since I almost bought those cause they look cool and easier on the tire. God maybe ill just get my old honda accord fixed up instead and drive that with chains.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:04 PM   #19
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Have strict is CA? Will they actually figure out that those tires wraps aren't up to the standards? I drive in snow in both NJ and Michigan and I've never seen anyone use chains or seen a checkpoint. Granted, NJ doesn't get much snow but MI does and my AWD BMW on performance all seasons slides around constantly but I haven't had an issue enough to get snow tires.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:40 PM   #20
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I drove my 330ci about a 1/2 mile in 2 inches of snow with my summer tires on and I thought I was going to die. I spun out coasting around a turn at about 2 mph and I could barely use the brakes without losing control. I can drive fine with snow tires on, they make a huge difference.
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