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Discussion Starter #1
With winter approaching in the northern hemisphere I thought it would be a good time to ask Mazda 3 owners what their winter driving experiences have been. I know a lot of winter driving centers around tires, but I am also looking for comments on how the car does in cold temperatures; i.e.:
- any problems with door handles or trunk lid freezing up?
- hard to start?
- takes a long time to warm up?
- how good is traction control?
- drop in mileage?
- rough idle or hard shifting?

I have a 2016 and have not gone through a winter yet so anything you can share (especially any useful tips) would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I'm in Canada, had one winter with my 3 so far. So it's been through below -30C enough.

- no handle, trunk or lock freezing issues at all.

- no harder to start, but I do run full synthetic.

-warm up is longer, but not excessive. I use a block heater at home but no plug available at work.

- traction control works as it should, I like it. Doesn't fire excessively. However, if you're driving safely it shouldn't be going off anyway. Great feature but don't expect it to save you from driving like a maniac on icy roads.

-yes there's a drop in fuel economy as there is with every car. That's just physics.

- I drive stick so I can't speak for the automatic. Shifts fine,little stiff on a cold day at the beginning as expected.

- the 3 bumps the idle up a little when the engine is cold to help warm up faster. You'll notice this more in the cold weather. It'll want to take off a little harder and if you let it coast low speed in gear with your foot off the gas (ie parking lot), it'll move faster than you might expect.
 

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I'm in Canada, had one winter with my 3 so far. So it's been through below -30C enough.

- no handle, trunk or lock freezing issues at all.

- no harder to start, but I do run full synthetic.

-warm up is longer, but not excessive. I use a block heater at home but no plug available at work.

- traction control works as it should, I like it. Doesn't fire excessively. However, if you're driving safely it shouldn't be going off anyway. Great feature but don't expect it to save you from driving like a maniac on icy roads.

-yes there's a drop in fuel economy as there is with every car. That's just physics.

- I drive stick so I can't speak for the automatic. Shifts fine,little stiff on a cold day at the beginning as expected.

- the 3 bumps the idle up a little when the engine is cold to help warm up faster. You'll notice this more in the cold weather. It'll want to take off a little harder and if you let it coast low speed in gear with your foot off the gas (ie parking lot), it'll move faster than you might expect.
Hear, hear!
I'm from southern Ontario. Third winter for my car. And mine is the A/T. I never had a problem in winter, I don't have a block heater so when it hits -30 it is a little harder to start but not difficult. The only issue I have had is when it hits that low, low temp, my previous winter tires flatspotted on me a couple of times. The whole car shook like a mofo for at least 10 mins, until they warmed up.
Will see what the Bridgestone's are like this winter. I'm looking forward to lots of snow-fingers crossed. As for the fuel economy, in town I average 8.5-9.2 L/100K in the summer, this past winter it was 9.7, sometimes as much as 10.2 L/100K, so winter tires and the colder temps will screw your gas mileage. Its to be expected.
Oh and one other thing, if your street acts like a wind tunnel in winter and your house is down wind, the windows will freeze up inside the car. Mine do so I have to let the car warm up for about 15 minutes before the windows will roll down. The windshield freezes up inside as well. Not fun.
 

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As you may well know, Southern California winters tend to be especially brutal. Temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and some rain. That being said, I just got my 3 a few weeks ago, so I look forward to testing it in the harsh conditions of the winter down here.

#sarcasm
 

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I would say definitely get winter tires. I have a Mazda6 and it floats on the snow and tends to get stuck. Since the 3 is even lighter, you might have trouble depending on how much snow you get (I'm in Indiana so it get pretty awful here).
 

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Ive driven the 14, 3 through a couple of snow storms in the sierras. i have MT hatch.

-havnt experience freezing handles or tailgate
-starts the same, i have the early build 3 where it required a new ecu program. the original FW reduced the 3's power in cold weather. i think this is resolved for newer 3s.
-warms up around the same, the engine just runs at higher RPM when you start up to speed up warmup.
-tire traction, with the stock yokahamas, use cable chains. they were pretty bad without chains. traction control/stability is not very intrusive, if anything my car would slide and the system wouldnt kick on. this vs another mazda we have, the 5, the 5 traction/stability control would be very proactive even before sliding. i think mazda tuned down the traction control with the newer gens of cars.
-shift was fine for MT, I am running Redline fluid.
-engine was noticeably louder in cold weather
 

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I've had one winter with my 2015 3sGT hatch with manual trans. I'm in the Denver area, which has highly variable winters. We get snow, but the roads tend to clear quickly. I don't have snow tires, as I would really only need them a day or two at a time, then there's usually a week or more of clear sunny weather, so they'd be wasted. I just take it really easy on the stock Dunlop "all season" tires, which have pretty weak winter performance. I'm definitely switching to a better A/S tire when the stocks wear down.

As for your specific questions, my experiences are similar to those above:

--Doors/handles/hatch have never been stuck. The windows/moonroof can get slightly stuck on the iciest days.

--Never difficult to start. Takes longer to warm up, but not bad. The engine RPMs are automatically higher as it warms up, and this kills mileage for the first 4-5 minutes, but after that it's normal. I lose only 1-2 mpg in the winter vs summer, mostly short trip city driving. Highway mileage after warmup is pretty much normal.

--Traction control is very unobtrusive, but I never push it hard in winter. I'm originally from Florida and I've only lived here 2.5 years, so I'm not stupid enough to think that I know what I'm doing in snow. I have had the ABS engage on some icy stops, and it works well.

--No rough idle. The stick shift can be a bit stiff before warmup, but the actual engine and transmission are smooth as always.
 

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One winter in '15 S Touring hatch - auto- SE Wisconsin so far, temps regularly dip down to below 0F and we get plenty of snow, slush, ice, and salt D:, its starting to get cold again but we havent had snow yet

- Rear driver door lock whines when its cold, each time i start it cold and eventually get going it whines when it auto locks - may get annoyed enough with it to have dealer fix, can make it whine more by re-hitting the lock button :<

- front windows regularly / easily get stuck / wont move in the cold, even when they appear to be perfectly clear, door flexes when u try to bring the window down. We had a 26-27F day once with plenty of sunshine, no moisture buildup (no snow, was afternoon, dry,clear day) on car at all and went to a tacobell and both front windows were stuck -_-

they pretty much wont unfreeze unless the car has been running with the heat on for a loooooong time, i will get out of work, scrape off car and have it idle for 5 min, drive home slow 35 min, stop at some drivethru and it still wont open, all while blasting highest heat

- idle is higher/outside car quite a bit noisier when cold and the transmission sounds unhappy while driving gently after 5-10 minutes to warm up while im scraping ice - its noisy / whiney / mildly grindy sounding until the cold temp light goes off, my commute is about a 25 minute drive on 50mph roads and the car takes about 20 minutes to warm up (10 while idling while scraping)

- auto shifts are quite a bit more reluctant, like it wants to hold the gears longer, until it gets warm

- starting in cold weather has been fine, even on coldest days with no block heater, it may take a few more cranks but never had a worry

- it defogs / defrosts pretty good so far, heated seats are decently hot on the really cold days, i wish we could have gotten a heated wheel too. Side mirrors are a pain to clear and dont seem to have any heating so that is a minor annoyance. My old car had a terrifying time once in a blizzard where snow/slush was clumping on the wipers and freezing and after a few minutes i had to pull over to try to clear the things off. Been watching for that with this car and havent seen any hint of it happening. Last winter wasnt too bad though

-i had the stock dunlop all season tires on it for the first winter and i was fine, i think i got stuck in a unplowed tacobell parking lot for a minute or two until i could rock myself out - it was a dumb time to be on the roads as we had just gotten like 10 inches and plows really hadnt been out - downside of having fast food 2 minutes from your house is you will risk it lol- may get some steelies and altimaxs this season

-traction control / abs are new to me and i guess i dont have comparison point vs my old car, they seem to work and im happy when they kick in, especially the abs, pumping brakes when u really need to stop is kinda frightening and im glad i no longer need to worry about that

-mileage - eh, not too much worse, i dont pay too much attention but my range does go down 5-10% i think

that may seem like a lot of gripes but once its warm its pretty good, i usually care more about my frozen fingers than a slightly noisier car which is sluggish just like me, the window thing is the biggest annoyance.
 

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@mumizam - thanks for the detailed response. Do you live near one of the Great Lakes? Maybe the car is picking up water vapor off the lakes? I grew up between Buffalo and Rochester NY and remember what winters were like ... and remember how my windows would be frozen shut too. It was just part of life there and perhaps a fault with the car I owned back then.
 

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- any problems with door handles or trunk lid freezing up?
My hatch is sometimes difficult to close properly. It'll lock on to the first "step", but not the fully closed second one. I suspect it's caused by the rubber bumpers hardening up in freezing temperatures.

- how good is traction control?
For oversteer, dunno. Probably fine. Oversteer is easy. But for understeer it's pretty much useless. I took it to an ice driving track with various "challenges": The moose test, straight braking, brake-and-turn, and long slippery curve. ABS and braking in general was good, but it completely fell on its face with anything involving understeer (and this car does NOT oversteer). My old car ('99 Ford/Mercury Cougar with ABS only) was much better. Probably because weight. It was a good 200kg heavier, most of which was over the front wheels so...
 

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I have an '06 3s hatch...so my experiences are likely a bit different than the newer models with traction control (which I am NOT a fan of when I've done Winter driving in cars that have this "feature." I drive manual and generally am able to take my foot off the gas and upshift with wheel slippage faster than the computer adjusts).

First Winter with our 3 and we found snow tires were a necessity -- we average ~100" of snow/season in our area. I'd never before owned a car with dedicated snow tires, but I also had never driving a car with performance all-seasons as the standard tires. Performance all-seasons are really only all-season for areas that don't have a real Winter. Bridgestone Blizzaks have been amazing. We're looking at another 3 hatchback once VW buys back our TDI. Snow tires will be an automatic purchase. With the Blizzaks the 3 plows through everything except super deep snow and it takes serious ice to make the ABS kick-in.

As far as freezing doors and windows, we've really not had any issues with the 3. It does take a LONG time to heat up. Maybe newer ones are better. I'm definitely going with heated seats/steering wheel on our next one.
 

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I'm in Southern Michigan, we get quite cold (-15F) in the winter, and we normally get several big snowstorms. I used to live in the mountains, so Ive been running studless snow tires for years. Currently, I'm starting my second season running Michelin Xi3s. They do a great job of keeping me sure-footed and out of trouble around here. I also usually treat my door seals each autumn with some silicone lubricant to help keep moisture from freezing the doors shut. I haven't had any problems with the Mazda, but it's a habit I picked up from cars past.
 
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