One of the most overlooked aspects of yearly car maintenance (BMW cars included) is a set of winter tires. Most drivers feel as if they can get away with the same all-season tires they’ve been driving on all year. And in most cases, they’ll survive with them but using all-season tires in the winter is less than ideal. Our German colleagues call all-season tires “no-season” tires because they’re not actually good in any season, just not terrible in any specific season.
Having a specialized tire for the winter months can be hugely helpful for any car but especially for cars designed for higher levels of performance. Our own Chuck Vossler is even a huge supporter of BMW i3 winter tires, as his Nokians have helped him get through plenty of cold weather in his little electric Bimmer.
So we’re big proponents of winter tires, as they provide far superior cold-weather and snow traction than any other sort of tire. Especially if you have a high-performance car from BMW, which is going to require more grip and traction than all-season tires can provide in the winter, if it’s going to perform as it should. But when it comes to higher-performance cars, not just any winter tire will do. You’re going to need one that can handle the capabilities of your car. So let’s take a look at three of the best winter season tire options for you car.
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
This is probably the best performance winter tire, capable of handling almost anything winter can throw at it while allowing a BMW to perform the way it should. This is the tire we’d recommend for anyone with BMW M car in a cold winter climate, as it will still allow you to enjoy your car’s impressive performance, without feeling sketchy. The only thing that will stop your BMW M car with Pilot Alpin PA4s is ground clearance in deep snow but that’s actually stopping your car, not the tires. As far as we can tell, the only downside of the Pilot Alpin tire is price, as each tire is over $200. Small price to pay for winter safety, though.
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3
When it comes to pure winter tire capabilities, it’s impossible to beat Nokian. The Finnish tire company has been the leader in winter tires for ages now and, if you’re looking for all-around winter tire capability, it’s hard to beat Nokian. Sure, the Kakkapeliitta might not have the same dry winter traction as the Pilot Alpin PA4 for your M car, but for all-around dry, wet and snow traction, the Nokian is likely the safer bet. Nokian also makes a studded tire that’s even better in snowy climates but we’re excluding studded tires because they’re not always legal in certain states.
Bridgestone Blizzak LM001
Another leader in winter tire performance is Bridgestone, who’s been making its Blizzak tire line for years. The Bridgestone Blizzak LM001 is an excellent winter performance tire that will provide your BMW with superior traction to any all-season tire and do so at a lower price than the Michelin or Nokian. It’s still not exactly super cheap but it’s the most affordable tire option of the three, yet still great. While it might not perform on dry pavement quite as well as the Alpin, nor as well on snow as the Nokian, it will still provide far better traction in all situations than any all-season tire can hope to.
Honestly, we’d be happy with any of these three tires. They’re all excellent winter tires and capable of providing the sort of cold-weather traction BMWs need. But we understand why some customers are reluctant to spend the money on replacing their tires with winter ones for just a handful of months per year, then having to put their regular tires back on. Which is why we’d recommend an investment in a second set of wheels with winter tires, so the swap is easy each year. If you aren’t sure where or how to do that, you can always go to the dealer and ask about BMW winter tire and wheel packages.
If you do get a set of winter tires, preferably one of the aforementioned choices, you won’t be disappointed. It might be a bit expensive but it’s an investment that’s worthwhile, not just for the performance of your car but for your safety and the safety of those around you.