If you live in parts of the world where the snow falls and love to get the most out of your BMW year-round, it means you need two sets of tires: summer/high-performance rubbers and winter tires.
My favorite summer tire is, hands down, the Michelin Pilot Super Sport. However, when the white stuff starts falling during the winter, summer tires turn into slippery solid bricks. To stay in control and on the road, I took off my Michelin Pilot Super Sports and put on some winter shoes for our BMWs. For winter tires, the thinner the better, so if you run 19 in wheels in the summer, make sure you choose 18 inch winter tires with a more narrow foot print.
Germans are so adamant that if you drive on summer performance tires during the winter, you can get a ticket. The fine is a stout 80 euros. So if you have an European Delivery of an M3 or M4 during winter months, you need to arrange to rent winter tires. Germans say the winter tires need to be on “von O bis O” – from October to Ostern (German word for Easter).
One of the funniest things I’ve heard before came from a German BMW engineer who said, all-season tires should be call “No season tires.” Pursuing the German websites on their winter driving regulations show that some all-seasons with M+S designations will keep you from getting a ticket too.
So you set out to find the 5 best snows tires for your BMW.
These have long been my favorite snow tires. I have had three sets and just recently bought a set for BMWBLOG’s long-term i3. Interestingly the only snow tire for the i3 is a Blizzak. The Blizzaks on my old 2005 ZHP were insane. I made it through 10 inches of fresh snow on Blizzaks in a rear-wheel drive BMW. My neighbors saw me head out and thought the ZHP had all-wheel drive.
There are no less than nine types of Blizzaks depending on the type of car and tire: a sport ute, a sports car, run-flats, a BMW i car, etc. In my opinion you cant go wrong with any of these. The Bridgestone Blizzak’s website says this about the i3’s winter tires:
The Blizzak LM-500 featuring ologic technology is Bridgestone’s ecologically oriented Performance Winter / Snow tire originally developed for the drivers of BMW i3 and i8 electric cars. Designed to deliver significant improvements in tire rolling resistance and vehicle aerodynamics to enhance vehicle range, Blizzak LM-500 tires help drivers maintain their vehicle’s sporty appearance and wintertime mobility by providing traction on cold, dry, wet, slush and snow-covered roads.
Bridgestone’s ologic technology was voted “Tire Technology of the Year” in the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence in 2014. It combines a large diameter tire with a narrow tread pattern to conserve energy that is otherwise lost through the tire’s internal friction or the vehicle’s aerodynamic resistance. While the tread of smaller diameter tires experience a higher percentage of deflection as they roll, the tread of larger diameter tires can feature higher belt tension and experience a lower percentage of deflection that significantly reduces tire deformation and rolling resistance. The narrow tread also improves tire and vehicle aerodynamics that reduce drag.
The tread compound of Blizzak LM-500 tires feature unique polymer technology to enhance cold weather traction. This compound is molded into a directional design featuring a long contact patch (relative to its narrow width) to combine hydroplaning resistance on wet and slush-covered roads with confident grip and braking traction in cold wintry conditions. Rounded shoulders promote dry and wet road handling while stepped independent tread blocks employing Lamellen edge effect sipes increase the number of biting edges to enhance grip in snow and on ice.
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D
These come in run-flat or non-runflat. I have driven a bunch on Dunlop winter tires too and they wear really well, offer nice high speed stability, work well in deep snow, but lack a bit on ice. Dunlop makes a Graspic DS-3 which is a softer compound and works better in snow and ice ,but wears much faster than the Winter Sport 3D if driven on asphalt. Here in the Midwest we tend to have snow one week and then it’s gone the next, so a harder compound winter tire like the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D makes for a fine choice too.
Pirelli Winter Sottozero (Performance Winter / Snow)
I surveyed my local BMW Club’s car and coffee folks this morning and found that the Pirelli Winter Sottozero was the third most common winter tire. Though I have no experience with the Winter Sottozero, their owners told me they were very happy with their performance. Pirelli’s “dual-season” Performance Winter / Snow tire developed to be effective as ambient temperatures approach freezing and below from mid-Fall until early Spring by offering hot performance compared to summer tires when driven on cold, dry, wet or icy surfaces. Winter Sottozero tires are for the drivers of high performance sport cars, coupes and sedans who don’t let their enthusiasm for driving cool off in winter.
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3
Michelin makes twelve different winter tires. Again, these vary depending upon mission, but one that would work well on an M3 or M4 would be the Pilot Alpin PA3. I owned a set of Michelin Snow tires for my E36 M3 that I daily drove and they were grippy and worked great.
Hakkapeliitta tires are Nordic Legend. These originate from Finland and are the ultimate snow tire for the most Northern latitudes. If you live somewhere where snow is always on the ground, these are the tires for your BMW. They even come studded. Studded snow tires, however, have to be driven on the snow. Great tires but for a very specific scenario.