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Bimmerfest Co-Founder
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
BMW E46 3 series winter tires

It is that time of year again, when the shadows get long, it is dark by 4:30 and you wonder why you don't live in California or Florida. To keep yourself and loved ones safe in your E46 while slogging through the winter a set of snow tires is a must. The amount of traction and increased mobility a set of winter tires provides cannot be overstated. Watch this video from the Tirerack that shows just how much of a difference dedicated winter tires makes.

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

Most of us don't have the luxury hibernating our E46 for the winter and a winter vehicle is not an option for many. The cost of insurance, maintenance and insurance well exceeds the cost of a winter tires and wheels. With a set of snow tires on your E46, even the rear wheel drive variant is a competent winter driver. The great BMW driving dynamics translate into a stable platform with the right footwear. Taken to an extreme you can truly enjoy the E46 in the winter.


I will take my E46 M3 with winter tires over a front wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle on all seasons any day of the winter. The two videos above show you just how much control snow tires make when the roads go from black to white. If you haven't driven on snow tires you will be amazed at where you can go in your E46, I know I was.

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 glove box one!
  • 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 until it is snowing to put your snow wheels and tires on your BMW see above) :thumbsup:
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