Author Topic: Snow Tyres?  (Read 848 times)

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Offline Ste7en

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Snow Tyres?
« on: August 27, 2018, 09:22:44 AM »
Hoping to get our Mazda back soon and I'm hoping it has x4 new tyres on it (having being pushed up the A1 for 100 metres sideways by an HGV).

I've been scaring myself looking at videos of the Mazda 3 in the snow. Is it really that bad or are people just idiots?

We have only had the car for 3 months, one month of that it has been in the bodyshop. So we don't really know much other than sunny, dry conditions.

I'm considering a set of Michelin CrossClimate+ when we get it back. Any recommendations?

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2018, 02:05:21 PM »
By all accounts cross climate are good..

Last year I used "don't drive like a berk" which seems to work too. It's not ideal..but given the only time I got stuck was on sheet Ice in my own street and otherwise went about my business as normal it did ok.

For reference I'm up in the Derwent Valley on the opposite side to Consett..so when we get snow..we get SNOW! But I do have tyre socks for when it gets really tricky and a shovel in board.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2018, 02:07:16 PM by StevenRB45 »

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2018, 03:14:27 PM »
"don't drive like a berk"  :)

I have to say that I drive like an old fart most of the time and I hate going out in the snow & ice. I may invest in some socks as well. There is a slight bank into my cul-de-sac which the morons next door spin up in 1st all the time. Then their Dad moans because he can't get up in his Merc  :)

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2018, 03:38:35 PM »
Not sure if it will apply to you gen 3 but on the gen 2 the tcs can be over zealous and if you attempt to pull away in second it'll pull torque and make it stall if you aren't quick on the clutch. At this point the DSC off button is your friend in short doses.

Offline Engineer Andy

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2018, 08:03:40 PM »
I was told by Honest John (the Telegraph car 'Agony Uncle' and who has his own motoring website [.co.uk] with a forum which I'm a member of) that traction control isn't very helpful in snow and especially icy conditions - lucky my Euro-spec gen1 TS2 doesn't have it (the UK spec one would) and I've never had any issues in snow (although I live in Hertfordshire and don't get it as bad as more remote and northerly areas).  He advised to turn it off if you have the facility to in the car in such conditions.

I think, if I recall your posts concerning your accident, you gen3 model is shod on the 205/60 R16 tyres, which aren't really low profile tyres, and not that dissimilar to my OEM 205/55 R16s, so shouldn't be terrible compared to the Sport models shod on 215/45 R18s.  If they still the original OEM Toyos, it could be partly that they aren't the best in snow (some reviews of that tyre on Mazda3s haven't been that complementary) or the tread is sufficiently worn to make driving in snow more tricky, especially if you aren't confident doing so anyway.  I wouldn't ever drive on sno/ice on summer tyres with less than 3mm of tread or that were over 6 years old (they can get very hard which is not good for grip in snow).

A lot of mastering driving in snowy and icy conditions is about being gentle/minimal on all inputs - steering, throttle, brakes and gear changes, including changing up early into as high a gear as the car will stand without labouring the engine.  Sometimes moving off in 2nd gear is more appropriate.  Additionally, keeping a good eye out and watching what others do, often far in front, can make judging what to do as regards cornering, turning and braking much easier.  All too often people drive normally except for slowing down a bit.  Manouvring in such conditions often takes more planning ahead and much more time/distances, and resisting the temptation (as you might do in the dry) to brake harder to stop or put your foot down to get going - often easing up on each pedal results in grip being restored.  Giving other road users, especially HGVs and vans, significantly more space is also wise.  Having all-season or winter tyres won't suddenly mean the car can be safely driven in such conditions as if it were dry and warm out.

When I downsized my tyres to 195/65 R15 (technically possible and allowable by Mazda on my gen1 car, and fine with my insurer) - see my posts on another thread as to why, I also changed to Michelin Cross Climate Plus tyres.  I live in Hertfordshire, so don't get more than a fortnight of snow (on average) per year and its not that deep either, so the CCs are more suitable as they are summer-biased all season tyre, plus Michelins are renowned for their longevity, which is good as I currently don't do a lot of mileage per year.

If you live in an area that gets snow more often or deeper, and/or is more remote/hilly, you may find that either a more winter biased all season tyre (the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2 is also excellent, others are ok) is more suitable, or even having separate sets of summer and winter tyres, with the winters (same size as the summer ones) shod on steel wheels.  You would have to find somewhere dry to store the set not being used and pay a garage/fitter to swap them over when the temperature consistently drops below about 7-8degC and back again if you went with two sets.  Have a look at review for all season tyres on the Tyre Reviews website and also for the OEM Toyo summer tyres for your car (you can specify review by tyre size, or specific tyre or car to get a more useful review).  The test scores for both these tyres I mentioned and many others can also be found on that site, with tests from UK and continental European car magazines and the site owner himself, who is very knowledgable.

Compared to my more standard (read more widely available and cheaper as many cars from different makes use them) 205/55 R16s and now the 195/65 R15s, your 205/60 R16s will be somewhat more expensive to buy (with less choice, but not terrible), probably £25 - 30 more a tyre than mine, at around the £90 - £115 mark for winter and all-season tyres.

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2018, 08:42:10 PM »
To be fair to the TCS/DSC it can be useful once you have momentum, the main issue seems to be it allows very little slip when pulling away so in deepish snow it doesn't allow you enough power to over come the drag of the snow on the wheels.

Once moving it works pretty well at keeping the front wheels in check in uphill sections if you hit a particularly slippy patch or misjudge the throttle. It intervenes politely but firmly to stop it spinning up and keep it tracking straight as well, using fiddle braking at the back to drag it straight it for whatever reason you find the rear attempting to overtake the front.

My main issue with the car in snow is the ABS...but that applies to all ABS cars. If there's no grip it deactivates the brakes...although my 205 summer tyres don't give it a lot to work with.

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2018, 12:30:54 PM »
Some excellent tips there. Thanks guys!

What shocked me was the negative comments about the Mazda 3 in the snow, a quick Google was quite a surprise! Having said that I dare say a lot of it depends on the tyres. So I'm hoping to push the boat out on a good set.

I always swore by the Uniroyal RainExpert tyres on our previous motor (a Vauxhall Astra). It seemed to be a good combination.

I've no idea how the TCS differers between the MK2 and the MK3 but I'll look into it.

The tyres are not low profile as pointed out so I may be okay with a good set of all seasons.

Offline Willpower

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2018, 02:52:03 PM »
What shocked me was the negative comments about the Mazda 3 in the snow, a quick Google was quite a surprise!

In my opinion that has a lot to do with whether the person driving has experienced driving much in the snow. It doesn't matter what the car is, unless you treat it properly in the snow then it will likely bite you.
Driving in snow, to some, is a novelty.  Too much heavy right foot will always lead to some spirited driving.
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Offline Engineer Andy

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2018, 08:46:03 PM »
What shocked me was the negative comments about the Mazda 3 in the snow, a quick Google was quite a surprise!

In my opinion that has a lot to do with whether the person driving has experienced driving much in the snow. It doesn't matter what the car is, unless you treat it properly in the snow then it will likely bite you.
Driving in snow, to some, is a novelty.  Too much heavy right foot will always lead to some spirited driving.

Indeed - I think part of it for the gen1 and 2 cars, especially the 1.6 petrol, is because they are low geared cars (especially 1st and 2nd gears) that need a decent amount of revs (as they are VVTi engines) to make progress.  Luckily for me, I am a light-footed driver and make sure I'm in the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin or stalling, so driving in snow normally isn't a problem, and can actually be quite enjoyable.  I've on occasion driven other cars that aren't so low geared and you don't need to tip-toe so much in poor weather conditions below 20mph.

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2018, 10:39:01 AM »
IMO there are 2 main things you need for driving in snow - confidence/experience and decent winter tyres.

Like you I live up in the northeast (NE47) and like you we get some hefty snowfall. I find you've got to be committed in heavy snow; as soon as you get tentative (e.g. stopping at the bottom of a hill to think about it) you're going to struggle. When I was in London a few years ago during some exceptionally heavy snow (for London) I found myself constantly yelling "don't stop!" at those in front of me. Not surprisingly they weren't used to it, were too timid and consequently the whole place ground to a standstill.

Having said that, you can of course be over-confident. Having got through that blizzard up your way - on the A68 back at the end of Feb - I relaxed and started having 'fun'; at which point I went straight on when I should have gone left and wrote the car off. But that was my fault, not the car's or the tyres.

The car was a Volvo S80 and the tyres were Goodyear Ultragrips. I would hesitate to recommend them.

You didn't say whether you have the 16 or 18 inch rims. Last time I looked the Michelin Crossclimates are not available in 215/45x18, the closest size you will get is 225/40x18. I fancied a set for my SportNav but didn't want to invest until I was sure they'd fit. So about a month ago I got myself a pair of second-hand Nokian Z-lines in this size - and so far all is well. I'll therefore be getting the new CC's in the next few weeks.

Note also that the CC's are all-season rather than full on snow tyres. The reviews I've read say they are almost if not just as good as full snow tyres - with the added bonus that you don't have to change them come the summer time.

Offline Ste7en

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2018, 09:01:56 AM »
Thanks kneeknack. Plenty to think about there :)

I'm not the worst driver in the snow, I'm far from the best as well. I know the theory, which leads to lots of shouting "Get it out of 1st!", "Don't stop!" and "You're way too close mate!". What worried me was all the talk about the 3 being low geared and quick to spin. Mind, I'm usually very wary with the accelerator in the snow any way.

The wheels are 16" so I'm hoping I can get the CC+ tyres.

Cheers!

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2018, 02:01:25 PM »
Thanks kneeknack. Plenty to think about there :)

I'm not the worst driver in the snow, I'm far from the best as well. I know the theory, which leads to lots of shouting "Get it out of 1st!", "Don't stop!" and "You're way too close mate!". What worried me was all the talk about the 3 being low geared and quick to spin. Mind, I'm usually very wary with the accelerator in the snow any way.

The wheels are 16" so I'm hoping I can get the CC+ tyres.

Cheers!

As regards the 3 being low geared, one of the ways to 'get round it' in snowy and icy conditions is to change up early at lower revs, and, in conditions of very poor grip, possibly move off in second gear instead of first - I've done this once or twice before as required without any problems.  I agree with kneeknack that making progress in snowy conditions is often about keeping a steady momentum, as well as keeping the distance to vehicles in front much larger than normal, to allow for them suddenly braking so you can make desicions in good time.

Even though I live in the SE/East of England, which doesn't get much in the way of snow, when we have got some, I fare perfectly ok for the most part even with standard summer tyres - my getting the CrossClimates is giving me a bit more peace of mind in such conditions as well as in 'normal' cold conditions below 7degC when its not icy or snowing.  They won't be quite as good in weather above 7degC, but tyres are always a compromise, and I don't have the space to store another set of tyres for use in summer/winter.

As far as the tests have been, the CCs have been the closest to the summer tyres in terms of performance, but are far better than them as regards comparing to winter tyres.  As before, I would suggest anyone living in areas that regularly get snow in winter (significantly more than 2 weeks a year and heavy) who can find space to store a set of tyres/wheels to go for winter tyres as well as summer tyres.  For areas in between - say in the northern part of the midlands, etc, they may want to think about more 'winter biased' all-season tyres like the excellent Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-2.

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Re: Snow Tyres?
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2018, 02:01:25 PM »