Let me start by saying that I am one of those people that drive year round with performance tires, despite the fact that I live in the snowy Chicago. Yes, I know, not very responsible in my part, but the truth is that when it snow heavily, I tend as much as possible, to “hibernate” and not drive much.
But things have changed this winter and it requires that I drive more than usual, including my last trip to Detroit during a huge snowstorm. So now, I am at the point where I need to ask the same very question myself: “Which snow tires should I buy?”
My research started, obviously, with BMW forums, Google searches and other internet resources. But since I know a lot of BMW owners and have tons of friends that drive bimmers, I figured they would be reliable sources as well.
A good start and resource recommended by many people was the “Tire Rack’s Tire Decision Guide: Find the tire performance category that’s best for your vehicle and the roads you drive on.”
I was once again reminded that there are three options when it comes to snow tires: performance, studdable and studless.
Performance Winter Tires
By choosing the performance winter tires, you’re not sacrificing much when it comes to dynamic handling, but you are trading some snow and ice traction. Not the safest bet in winter tires choices and they are geared more an experienced driver or someone that lives in an area with moderated snow.
The low profile performance winter tires are rated H-speed or V-speed and always need to be installed in sets of four.
My research concluded that the following are some of the most respected and high rated tires:
- Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D – several options available
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM-22/LM-25
- Michelin Pilot Alpin PA2
Studdable Winter and Snow Tires
These type of tires offer the highest safety while driving in heavy snow conditions. The S or T-speed rated studdable tires feature snow tire tread compounds and studdable tread designs for good snow and ice traction. Studdable tires don’t really work well on ice without studs, and don’t work great on dry or wet surfaces. Once again, these type of tires must be installed in sets of four. Something to keep in mind that I didn’t know myself: studded tires are prohibited in certain states, including some regions in Canada.
The general consensus here is that the Pirelli Winter Carving is the best choice at a reasonable price.
Studdless Ice and Snow Tires
Studdless tires are the most popular choice for most of the BMW owners. These type of tires offer the best in snow traction, but will give up some dry road responsiveness over an H/V rated snow tire to get it and without using winter tire studs. Studdless tires perform much better on ice and much worse on dry or wet surfaces.
Rated Q-speed, these tires must be installed in set of four as well. In this category, the task of choosing three most popular and performant studdless tires, was a little bit more difficult. But based on the number of recommendations that I have received and the research I conducted, here is what I recommend:
This concludes my research and recommendation process, but I am sure there are many other tires choices available, so I encourage you to list them below in the comments section and I will edit the article to include them.