Tell me about seasonal tires.

So, the odds are very good that I will be buying a 2013 Mazdaspeed 3 this weekend, assuming that I don’t sit down in it and immediately hate it, find out that I have completely forgotten how to drive stick, or have an experience like Bill Cosby did with his Cobra.

Anyway, while drooling over the website or the picture the dealer texted me or something yesterday, I noticed that it comes standard with summer tires. Now, the whole reason I’m getting this thing is that I’m moving back to Ohio, which is a region to which snow is not foreign. I’ve never had summer tires on a car before; it’s always been all season for me. So tell me, knowledgable automotive dopers: How does this work? Do I have to buy a set of rims and keep the other tires on them? Do I just pop down to my local service center in November and March and have them swap out the tires? Speaking of tires, do I get all seasons or snow tires for the cold months?

Thanks all! :slight_smile:

first, do not drive the car in snow on summer tires. I speak from experience.

It’s up to you which way you want to go. A cheap set of rims with winter tires means you can swap them yourself; downside is higher up-front cost but it’s a one-time outlay. Personally, I just have the tires mounted/balanced on my normal rims at the place I got my winter tires. a $50 outlay a couple times a year isn’t going to break my bank.

if you’re getting tires for winter anyway, it’s pointless (IMO) to get all-seasons. The Blizzaks I got for my car are fucking awesome in the snow; I was climbing a snowed-over unpaved road in my Neon SRT-4 more easily than the 4x4 pickup behind me.

A good set of all-season performance tires will serve you in all but the worst snow and slush, and provide 90% or more of the grip of summer-only tires. Read the Tire Rack reviews for the recommended high-performance and up all-season tires (there are several categories, don’t be afraid of the “ultra” levels which can sometimes be very reasonably priced). Look over the test specs for the points that matter to you. Read the reviews for (1) drivers of your vehicle (2) in a region like yours (3) that sound like they know what they’re talking about.

All-season tires in the north are a must - summer is interrupted by rain and other nastiness, and summer tires can be terrible in the wet. AS tires have become VERY capable in the last few decades. Trade off that 5-10% of ultimate dry grip for 95% grip in most conditions. It’s very unlikely you’ll ever need true winter tires unless you have to do a lot of driving in snow/slush conditions without being able to use your judgment about it.

I suspect you won’t really notice that much of a handling difference between summer tires and all-seasons on this car, so one option is to just ditch the summer tires and go to all-seasons.

I would suggest going ahead and getting a set of winter tires come winter, but just pay to have them mounted on the same rims. Once the summer tires are worn out, reflect on how much you’ve liked the seasonal tires or not. If you liked 'em, buy another set of summer tires and a set of rims for the winter tires. If you didn’t think they were worth the hassle, just get a set of all seasons.

Well, the car comes with the summers. I’m not in a hurry to immediately dump them for a set of A/S (though a bad experience in the rain could change that). I think GreasyJack’s suggestion makes a lot of sense.

A buddy of mine has a 2011 Mazdaspeed 3 and we live near St. Louis so similar weather to, say, Cincinnati. First thing to know is when you floor it, hold onto the steering wheel with both hands. Unless they fixed it in 2013, that thing torque steers like a MF’er!!!

My buddy as a second set of snow tires. He got them from I think. They came mounted on nice rims so he only needs to jack up the car one tire at a time and exchange them twice a year. I’m thinking about doing this for my wife’s Nissan Altima.

However you might just want to consider a different car. Subarus have all-wheel/4-wheel drive and some of them are pretty fast also. Still if they have boy-racer tires, then you may need winter tires even for them.

That would be my advice too. Ohio certainly can get snow, and a bad winter may make you wish for real snow tires but cautious driving can deal with a lot of that. I’ve driven all my life in New England with good all season tires (although I have AWD now) and managed just fine.

Anyone who’s had “one bad experience in the rain” would avoid driving summer tires in the wet.

Even in California, every year I watched cars slide into each other in the first rainstorm of the fall, while I just steered around the 'benders. The peace of mind good AS tires bring is beyond all other issues, for me.

No thanks. I would love a WRX, but they’re just too pricey at the trim levels I’d like. And yeah, every review mentions the torque steer–they’ve got some sort of torque limiter now in first and second, I think, but it still happens.

there’s nothing about a summer tire that inherently compromises wet performance. The BF Goodrich KDW2 tires that originally came with my car were awesome in wet weather.

Aren’t the summer tires grippier at the expense of being quicker wearing? I had the option when I got my car but I opted for the all season. If the car had come with summer tires I would have happily used them; if I’m choosing tires, NJ just doesn’t have enough summer for me to worry about swapping tires in and out.

By the way, have you looked at the VW GTI?

Back when I had money burning a hole in my pocket and wanted a “hot hatch” the final two on my short list were the Mazdaspeed 3 and the VW GTI. I have been very happy with my decision.

By the way, you might want to also look at the Ford Focus ST.

Summer tires are going to be useless for you come late Fall/Winter. If you’re going with a hot hatchback, I say get the performance tires, and mount snow tires late in the year. Or, drive a second car in snowy weather.

I like the GTI, though it’s a bit more expensive. VW has a spotty reliability reputation, though. Also, when I was fooling around with their builder on the website, an inventory search would always bring back zero instances of the vehicle nationwide. I really don’t have time to wait for one to get built and shipped from the factory.

Ford Focus ST I’ve read some very good things about, but I just don’t care for the styling. Plus, the options were confusing and complicated; the 3 is basically loaded base–the only major thing to add is the navigation system package. And I retain a (irrational at this point, I know) bias against the domestic car-makers.

Summer tires are fine in the wet - it’s the cold, cold&wet, snow/slush that will send you off the road - See Tire or other sites for the specifics. “The first rainstorm of the year…” floats all the accumulated grease/oil/spills to the surface of the roadway and traction sucks for everyone until the slippery stuff gets washed away.

Have a ball with the summer tires until temps get down to the low 40s. Change to some high performance all seasons at that time. Should be fine for the winter in Ohio except during storms when you should be home instead of being a statistic.

Correct, and it seems like few people understand that. My good AS tires have kept me out of much trouble even under such demanding conditions, though; a little bit of caution plus the extra wet grip goes a long, long ways.

I have all-season tires on my Ford Mustang (V6, stick), but bought a pair of Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires for the rear (drive) wheels for wintertime. My understanding was that they were only really needed for the rear wheels, which is why I didn’t buy four snow tires.

I didn’t get an extra set of rims; I just have the tire store swap them out on the wheels in spring and fall.

Between the snow tires and traction control, I have never had a serious traction problem in the car in winter. I will momentarily lose traction (particularly when turning right), but it very, very quickly regains grip.

Eeagh. I don’t think you ever want significantly different grip between the axles. I think you’d have trouble finding any experienced opinion that agrees with your choice here.

I put snow-and-ice rated AS tires on my Odyssey a few months before I left California, then drove it across country. It’s performed outstandingly in even moderate snow and slush conditions, although there is one icy patch I have to watch for (slight downslope, shaded street, so it ices faster than anything else around. Fun slide to the bottom of the hill when you get it wrong. Even more fun watching the guy ahead of you get it wrong and come to a slow stop in the middle of the corner’s landscaping… and thus warning you to slow down in time.)

I put similar tires on my XC90 and bought a set of Blizzaks for winter, mounted on a spare set of wheels. Two winters in, one fairly harsh, and the B’s have never come off the wall rack. Again, good ice-and-snow rated AS tires have handled everything New England can throw at the car, along with good AWD. I will probably sell the set come winter.

I dunno. My preference is to have winter tires, in spite of the hassle of switching them. “All seasons” do not provide the safety necessary when you encounter actual winter conditions, from what I’ve read. But then, I live in Ontario, so snow is more of an issue.

Tire Rack video:

As stated, this is not a common recommendation. If you only have two it’s better to put them on the rear wheels regardless of FWD vs RWD since you don’t want to swap ends while braking, but having the same traction on all four wheels is much better.