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A question for all of you out there. I have read in several different places on this board that the stock 3 (I'm looking at a hatch) does not do well in the snow, or even on wet pavement. This is surprising to me since it's front wheel drive, every car this size I've had has done fairly well in the snow. Of course my dealer says it does great, but he'd probably tell me anything at this point to get me to just make up my mind and order a car.

So my question is this: What is it about the car that seems to get in the way of good handling in bad weather. Is it just the stock tires? No weight in the back of a hatch? Low clearance? Something inherent in the design?

Or... am I wrong in my impression of the sentiment here that it's not a good snow car?

I don't live in snow country, exactly (St. Louis, MO) but we do have a few days a year that can be dicey.

Thanks.
 

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I'd say it's mainly the stock tires. My 2006 sedan had the RSA Goodyears on them and I practically killed myself last winter. Finally this fall I bought myself some new tires even though the RSA's didn't have that many miles on them. I wasn't going through another winter with those crappy tires!!!!! Now it handles much better.
 

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It's just the tires, really. There are people here who have put snow tires on their 3s and have had absolutely no problems. The stock tires (Goodyear RSAs) are just garbage.
 

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+3 on the stock tires... get some Kumho or BFG's for the winter (although I'm running Aurora tires for winter, which I had never heard of before but they make my 3 a tank).
 

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The RSAs are supposedly horrible, but I have the Toyo Proxes on my car which are decent in the snow and pretty good in the rain.
 

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I put Dunlop Winter Sport M3's on my 3 sedan this winter, and have had absolutely no problems whatsoever. I drive on packed snow ~2 days a week (lake effect is a bitch).

I didn't give the 3 a chance w/o snows, but I don't imagine it'd be awful. With snows I've had no troubles.

Don't let the 'bad winter car' rumors keep you away; it's BS.


BTW, Tire rack is having a sale on these tires; $63 for 15" stock size tires. I can def recommend them.
 

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Initially when I first took my 06 Mz3 GT on the snowy roads I was like damn, I need snow tires ASAP. But I put it off and eventually learned it wasn't so much the tires that caused the poor handling, it was simply trying to drive too fast for conditions. I was used to a much bigger Pontiac Grand Am with big tires so I had to change the way I drove in the winter with this much smaller Mazda.

I live in Rochester, NY and we get more snow that just about any city in the United States except Buffalo (which is right next door) and so far, once I reevaluated the way I drive and changed my driving style to one where I drive much slower and more careful, I haven't had one single problem.

Sure, Goodyear RSA's are not the best winter tire ever made, but there's quite a bit of overcriticism I think on these board about it.

Drive slow, carefully, and you will be fine. People may not realize it, but it honestly takes alot of experience to drive in winter weather. And it really just takes time to know your car and what it can and can't do. Unfortunately, in the learning process you may curb some wheels and hit some snow banks, but hopefully you don't.

If you can afford snow tires and cheap winter rims, go for it. It probably would help some. But you can definately get by keeping your regular stock tires on there.
 

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RSA's suck worse than any other tire I have used in my entire life. They are horrible in the snow and rain. I just switched to kuhmo ASX's and they are quieter and much better in poor weather conditions and cost half the price. My car used to suck in bad weather, now it is much better.
 

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I agree with previous poster, on the fact that you can get by with all-seasons.

However, all-seasons, especially RSAs, limit time/place you can drive during winter. On a brand new RSAs two years ago, I got stuck on a hill (snow/ice covered), and no matter what I did like starting from 2nd gear, I couldn't get the car up. Got stuck, and had to slide the car down, take some other road. Glad no cars were around me. Next day, I had worst time trying to get out of a parking spot in NYC b/c of accumulated snow/ice underneath, tires kept spinning.

I then used pirelli p-zero nero allseasons for last 1.5 winters, got by okay, but this winter, it got very dangeorus, especially with 4/32" tread left. On cold/wet pavement, traction was very bad.

So after two years of car ownership, I took the plunge to get snow tires. Dunlop wintersport 3D, which is replacement of highly regarded M3 one. I drove down to NYC last friday in snow on I-87 south, and I never felt so safe and secure in snow before. It was great.

Best thing is that these tires are "performance" winter tires. I thought it was oxymoron initially, but I feel the compound sticks better on cold pavement than my previous all-seasons in cold weather. These Dunlop Wintersport 3D's have stiff sidewall too. At least that's how I feel about car's handling now.

To original poster, if you plan to get/upgrade wheels, get summer tires for summer and winter tires for winter. You can truly enjoy car's handling more this way. IMO, all-seasons are just a compromise.
 

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bwa-ha-ha-ha! i just got back home after driving on my brand new blizzaks! (MN got 3-4 inches where i am).
the car turned from worst handling car in the winter ever in to a tank in an instant!
i love bridgestone blizzaks!
 

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Save yourself a few dollars and get yourself some snow tires. I think TireRack sells Winterforce's for like $60/tire.
 

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we got a huge snow tonight. It was about 5-6 inches within a matter of hours. It was nuts. I only have about 1200 miles or so on my car. It has the suck a$$ RSA's. They are horrible. I really did pretty good considering. It took me about 10 minutes to get a feel for what the car likes and doesnt in the snow. Once I got that down, it did pretty decent for such crappy tires, but you can tell with the right tires it will pull like a train. I had those on my vic and they sucked. I put on a nice all season Hankook and it was night and day in all conditions. Much quieter, and way better grip. I believe they were a Z rated all season. I would compare them to my Michelins. My Bridgestone Potenza G009 did decent too. I like an all season tire, not just winter. I think one of those should rip through the snow considering that I did decent with these turds.
 

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I'm in hilly, lake snow country. I'd say the 3 is a good snow car, with snow tires of course. I also have a 4x4 truck w/ Blizzaks, but as long as snow isn't deeper than 5 inches I'll take the 3 just as well. Saves gas $.

Running 16" Dunlop Graspics DS-2's, gives up all dry handling (vs. performance winter tires like M3's or 3D's), but pays for itself in the snow. See pic below. 2hr trips of get first tracks take about the same amount of time, snow covered road or not. If your in real cold snow country the RSA are not adequate. period.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/BigPic.jsp?sidewall=Blackwall&tireMake=Dunlop&tireModel=Graspic+DS-2
 

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Like everyone else. The RS-As are dangerous in the snow. Traction FTL. I slid down a hill and couldn't get back up until I dug some "running room" (about 3 car lengths) to get it back up the hill. The plow wouldn't come down and get me. THEN, I had to pull left out into busy traffic from an unplowed side street, it slipped the whole way.

The RS-As are supposed to be "all seasons" they are really only good in the summer, and then you have to be *extra* careful in the rain. Nothing like just driving along and poof you're hydroplaning. Neither the bald Protenzas, Kuhmo SPTs, or my Dunlops have had that problem.

I have Dunlop Gripiacs (not the best, but they are good and were the only ones I could get last season) and last night's "Blizzard" was nothing. If I had the RS-As still, I would have had to call my wife to come pick me up in her SL4. I was doing 40mph in 3" of snow while everyone else was doing 10-15mph.
 

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I don't know a whole lot about tires. Here's what my car came with when I bought it last Sat:

Front:
Bridgestone Potenza RE050A 205/50R17

Back:
Falken Ziex ZE329 205/50ZR17

I don't know if the difference in the front and back tires will matter much, but all I can say is I had a scary time navigating the parking lot at work. I have to go a ways on a small road to get to the lot, and the road is downhill. It was covered in snow this morning and I was dead certain I was going to plow into the cars in front of me parked in the lot - I slid quite a ways down the hill.
 
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