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Hi, new 2014 sGT Hatch owner in New England. I’m looking to get a winter wheel/tire setup and want to minimize both the three season and winter wheel/tire weight for MPG and performance reasons, without going real expensive or fragile. Since I already have the OEM 18” wheels, that will be one wheel set; I’ll either keep the Dunlops for three season use for a while or replace them in the Spring. My question: should I put the winter tires on the OEM 18” wheels (which are heavy but presumably strong) and accept that the winter tires will be pricey, then get a lighter weight 17 or 18” wheel for the three-season tires, or use the OEM 18” wheels for a new set of three-season tires and buy a winter tire/wheel set with say 17” wheels? Using the OEM 18”ers for three-season has me using the heavy OEM wheels 8 months of the year and a lighter new set only four months. But I’ve seen recommendations that winter tires be put on smaller (16 or 17”) wheels. I’m thinking that I should go for narrower tires (P205 or 195 instead of the OEM P215) for the winter tires, for traction. Has anyone thought about or optimized this? Specific wheel/tire combo recommendations are welcome too!

Also, if I have a winter tire set, should my April - November tires be all-seasons or summer tires? All-seasons have the softer rubber for the cool temps of April and November, summer tires the harder rubber that presumably gives better MPG. Thoughts? Thanks for any insight!
 

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Here's my input. Get a new set of winter rims and don't go 17 go 16. Cheapest you can buy a complete set would be 250 but thats most likely used prices. But get 16" steelies with Bridgestone Blizzaks WS80 205/55/16 wrapped. Best winter tires out there. 2 sets so you save your tread.
 

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Here's my input. Get a new set of winter rims and don't go 17 go 16. Cheapest you can buy a complete set would be 250 but thats most likely used prices. But get 16" steelies with Bridgestone Blizzaks WS80 205/55/16 wrapped. Best winter tires out there. 2 sets so you save your tread.
Yup, I agree with this. Get 16's you'll be glad you did. The more sidewall you have between the road and the rim, the less damage and more road absorption you'll be able to get. Steelies are strong and plentiful, so if one gets damaged, they are cheap to replace.

Driving with the 18's compared to the 16's is like day and night. I will never drive with my 18's in the winter time. It already sucks going down roads with pot holes. Winter will bring even more holes and more chances to dent your rims.
 

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205/60R16 is the stock size/diameter. 205/55R16 is smaller than stock so you'll rack up more miles on the odometer on the same drive.

You're correct that it's nicer to drive on lighter wheels of you can, and that smaller wheel sizes are preferred for winter. I'll be putting winter tires on my stock 16" wheels soon, and getting some lighter 16" wheels for summer use. Sorry, that doesn't help you much though. :/

FYI: Blizzak WS70 tires are on close out in a few places. They were cheaper than some entry-level snow tires that aren't as good.
 

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I'll also be using my stock 16's for winters but buying a set of 17's for summer.

LarryT I'd suggest 16's and look for OEM rims used. In my area OEM 16's go really cheap used on Kijiji...

For tire suggestion the Blizzaks are amazing tires and I've had them on the cars and truck for the last 7 years but this year I'm going with the Michelin XIce i3. For the first time someone (Michelin) has exceeded the Blizzak ice traction.
 

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205/60R16 is the stock size/diameter. 205/55R16 is smaller than stock so you'll rack up more miles on the odometer on the same drive.

You're correct that it's nicer to drive on lighter wheels of you can, and that smaller wheel sizes are preferred for winter. I'll be putting winter tires on my stock 16" wheels soon, and getting some lighter 16" wheels for summer use. Sorry, that doesn't help you much though. :/

FYI: Blizzak WS70 tires are on close out in a few places. They were cheaper than some entry-level snow tires that aren't as good.
Ah didn't know I guess they changed the stock size for gen 3's
 

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For April-November tire, I suggest summer tires.
I run summers on 19" from April to November and winters on 18" from November to April.
 

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I put my winter rubber, Michelin X-Ice Xi3 on my 16 inch stock rims for the winter.
I have summer tires, Yokohamma S-Drives, on 17inch XXR's for the summer.

Love both and they both handle amazingly for what they are meant for.

I'd go summer rubber for the summer months instead of all seasons.
 

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Following up on this- I have a 2014 GTs and picked up a used set of OEM 16" Protege wheels. I went to a local Firestone and asked about getting the Blizzaks and the guy looked at me like I was crazy to size down from the 18's and that I would mess up the car. I then found a better deal on Costco.com and ordered those and they are being shipped to my local warehouse. I did call them and asked about setting up with the 16" package and they said they couldn't do that if OEM is 18. I am hoping that when I bring in the wheels they'll just do it anyway. Since the i version OEM is 16 there shouldn't be any problem, correct? Any ammo you all can arm me with in case they push back? Thanks!
 

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There is no reason why you can't go down to a 16" wheel - any 16" should clear the s GT brakes fine (mine do)

I've got a set of 16" alloys with Michelin X-Ice for the winter, and couldn't be happier. They beat the pants off of the crap tires that come on the car.

Some states have "Minus-size" laws - I know PA is one of them, since Tire Rack discussed it with me. For one, it shouldn't matter, since the lower trims come with 16" wheels anyway, but these are also just my winter wheels/tires, so I won't have to worry about passing inspection - mine is due in September, so I'll be wearing my 18s anyhow.

Tell them that lower trims of the MZ3 come with 16" wheels, and they should suck it up and put them on. Just make sure whatever tire you do get has an appropriate weight rating for the car (which it should, since the MZ3 is light).
 

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As far as finding light weight rims, I have not done the research there. You can find lightweight rims on tirerack, just make sure they're coated/painted and not milled to avoid corrosion/damage from salt and rocks in the winter.

I have Continental Extreme Winter Contact 205/60R16's on a set of 16" rims from tire rack.

Tires:
http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Continental&tireModel=ExtremeWinterContact

Wheels:
http://www.tirerack.com/wheels/Whee...elFinish=Silver+Painted&partnum=CS2675505100S

Cost me $800 for all 8 pieces. They fit just fine on my sGT hatch and drive amazingly well on these New England roads. Tirerack did a good review of this year's winter tires and I found the Conti's to be the best of the bunch. http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=167


Keep the 18's for your 3 season use, all-season tires since you're up in New England like me (my opinion). Definitely go with 16's for the winter. Steelies are good and cheap, but they'll be heavier than these alloys, and these look nicer :) As far as MPGs go, I am getting the same out of my tank with these tires as I did with my OEM 18's. The only real effect on my mpg average is slower driving through snow and the "winter blend" fuel. Even then I'm not noticing any significant change from this summer.

Hope this helps and happy shopping!
 

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You have to be careful when ordering wheels from TireRack and other places. You need to get wheels with the correct wheel OFFSET. Do we know what the offset of the 3S 18" wheel is, or the OEM 16"? You have to know this information first, so that you can get the proper wheels with the same offset or very close to it.

Mazda OEM wheels are not a problem. They will have the proper offset. I am talking about aftermarket wheels. Sometimes TireRack sales people do not sell wheels with the proper offset for your car, or don't care. They did it to me about 12yrs ago and I sent them back. They sent me another set with the right offset. If the offset is not very close to OEM, you will have a wheel that sticks out too much and/or may rub the fenders, or the opposite where it's IN too much and doesn't fill the fender well, and might look like crap. I am surprised to see so many aftermarket wheel discussions with no mention of the right offset.

Know your offset before buying non-OEM wheels. Just a friendly suggestion.

Harry
 

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I had the WS70s on a previous car. This time I went with the xi3.

The xi3 has a 40K treadwear warranty, whereas the WS70 / WS80 have no treardwear warranty -- and let me tell you, they wear FAST!!!

The xi3 also handles more like a normal tire, are quieter, and have a lower rolling resistance (according to consumer reports). So far I've been pretty pleased. But I can't speak yet to how I think they handle snow and ice compared to the WS70.
 

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I had the WS70s on a previous car. This time I went with the xi3.

The xi3 has a 40K treadwear warranty, whereas the WS70 / WS80 have no treardwear warranty -- and let me tell you, they wear FAST!!!

The xi3 also handles more like a normal tire, are quieter, and have a lower rolling resistance (according to consumer reports). So far I've been pretty pleased. But I can't speak yet to how I think they handle snow and ice compared to the WS70.
The reasons you mentioned are why exactly I went with the X-Ice Xi3 over the Blizzaks (that and the $70 rebate, which actually made them cheaper). I just got them in the other day, so I'll be putting them on Saturday or Sunday. This is my first set of winter tires, so I'm excited to see how they do. With regards to snow and ice handling, something tells me they can't be worse than the stock tires in the snow. :laugh2:
 

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We purchased a set of 16" OEM Mazda3 wheels from a Gen2 car owner. Threw a set of General Altimax Arctics on it and they're great.

BTW, we had a set of Altimax Arctics on the previous car, but they were 15" steelies. They were fantastic in snow and slush, cheap, and wore very well.

Here's a couple of pics of them on the car:

_DSC3023 by GirchyGirchy, on Flickr

_DSC3014 by GirchyGirchy, on Flickr
 

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The Blizzaks are better in snow and ice because it is a dedicated snow tire and nothing else. The Blizzak does not have good dry traction and has poor steering response and road holding. It shines however during Blizzards and in inclimate weather with standing water.

The Michlin X-Ice is a high performance (HR rated/130mph top speed) winter tire so unfortunately it is not as good in ice and snow as the Blizzak, but it's much better in the dry (and very good in the wet). Snow/ice traction is not bad, but a high performance tire will never be as good as the Blizzak and other "low performance" snow/winter tires.

I have the Michelin X-Ice on my 335i and I like it, but the car has AWD which helps a lot. However in a couple of situations with ice and deep snow there came a time or 2 when I wished I had Blizzaks, but the Bimmer's AWD helped me get out of dangerous situations or getting stuck. I had 2 sets of Blizzaks on my Civic and one on my wife's old Accord and they were awesome, but handling and dry traction sucked, plus they were noisy as most winter tires are. I think the Michelin X-Ice is a good comprimise between dry performance and snow/ice and also noise/comfort. They are not as noisy as most winter tires I 've had, and they are more quiet than the Michelin Arctic Alpine winter tire which I had a few years ago on my Integra.

Harry
 

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The Blizzaks are better in snow and ice because it is a dedicated snow tire and nothing else. The Blizzak does not have good dry traction and has poor steering response and road holding. It shines however during Blizzards and in inclimate weather with standing water.

The Michlin X-Ice is a high performance (HR rated/130mph top speed) winter tire so unfortunately it is not as good in ice and snow as the Blizzak, but it's much better in the dry (and very good in the wet). Snow/ice traction is not bad, but a high performance tire will never be as good as the Blizzak and other "low performance" snow/winter tires.

I have the Michelin X-Ice on my 335i and I like it, but the car has AWD which helps a lot. However in a couple of situations with ice and deep snow there came a time or 2 when I wished I had Blizzaks, but the Bimmer's AWD helped me get out of dangerous situations or getting stuck. I had 2 sets of Blizzaks on my Civic and one on my wife's old Accord and they were awesome, but handling and dry traction sucked, plus they were noisy as most winter tires are. I think the Michelin X-Ice is a good comprimise between dry performance and snow/ice and also noise/comfort. They are not as noisy as most winter tires I 've had, and they are more quiet than the Michelin Arctic Alpine winter tire which I had a few years ago on my Integra.

Harry
Just FYI, a quick look at TireRack reveals that the latest Blizzak WS80 (at least in 205/60R16) is H speed rated (130 MPH) as well.

By the way, winter tires may be a little bit of a luxury for me (central NJ) because we don't have constant lake effect snow, so something with better dry handling, less noise, and a tread wear warranty appealed to me. Of course, if we get snow like we did last year, my investment should be well worth it.
 

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I ordered a set of Blizzak WS80s and 16" steelies from Tire Rack last month. So far, so good with the tires! Very happy I got them thus far.

Blizzaks.JPG
 

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Definitely go down to 16's if you have 18's. I ran 17 and 17.5 inch winter tires on my previous car and they had nowhere near the same traction as smaller winter tires.

A vanity issue: If you've got the higher end 3 with 18's, you might want to consider a non-OEM rim. Why? Well if you get a set of OEM 16's you run the risk of people thinking you own a lower trim level. Petty and shallow, I know, but something to think about. Besides, don't you want your vehicle to look unique?

Here's my Before and After. Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT.

 
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