Winter tires vs. winter tires and wheels

Winter tires vs. winter tires and wheels

Hi All,

I’ve been using snow tires every winter on an A4 Quattro for the last 13 years or so, with Blizzak and Wintersport being my favorites. I’ve always been on the same 18” rims and swapped tires. This will be my first winter in an M3 AWD. I do a lot of winter driving for recreation in the Washington Cascades, and am wondering what advice other AWD M3 owners have. Specifically, tire choice, PSI, aero covers, and going with a separate set of winter rims vs. just swapping tires.


ksrehman | 31 août 2019

I drove up to Alpental once or twice a week last winter (M3 AWD non performance).

I ordered my car with 18" Aero wheels. I decided on a second set of Aero wheels and winter tires because I read that it's better for the tires to leave them mounted and balanced on their own wheels than taking them on and off one set of wheels but I don't know how true this is. I can't stand the idea of a cheap set of steel winter wheels on a Model 3.

For a while last fall the Tesla 18" Aero winter wheel/tire0 package with Pirelli Sottozeros was sold out so I ordered a new set of Aero wheels with aero caps and 4 TPMS sensors and bought Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3s online. I had my local Tesla SC swap wheels and mount and balance the winter tires. The Nokians were really good in all conditions - deep snow, ice and slush. It's a newer generation winter tire than the Pirellis and designed for maximum grip and low rolling resistance, which should help with range. Low temperatures take a big toll on range anyway. The Nokians were subjectively better on icy surfaces than the Blizzaks I put on my wife's car.

Hope you have a blast. Electric AWD drives better than mechanical AWD, even though Quattro was awesome back in the day.

surfpearl | 1 septembre 2019

Here are some prior posts on this topic:

My rims are 20" and I went with a separate set of OEM winter rims/tires (Pirelli) which I like very much. I aim for 42 PSI cold tire pressure when in the mountains (as recommended on my door sticker). Anticipating a temperature drop in the mountains, I bump up the cold tire pressure at home before the trip a little bit (e.g., 44-45 PSI) and bring my bike pump along to adjust the cold tire pressure to 42 PSI if necessary once I'm there. Have yet to play with other settings in the snow.

coleAK | 1 septembre 2019

In Alaska. Put nokian Hakka 9’s on the 18” Aeros and it did great last winter. Can’t beat Nokians on winter roads. Got a set of nice 18” enkei rims from tire rack and mounted the OEM Michelin’s for my summer set up.

Spartan24 | 1 septembre 2019

I have performance + AWD with the larger brake calipers making it slightly more difficult to get the right set up. I ended up doing separate wheel/tire approach and this is what Discount Tire put me in last winter:
18” KMC 694 wishbone wheels and mounted them with Pireli Sottozero 2.
Total price was $1887 before tax.

Was happy with the way they performed.

howard | 1 septembre 2019

P3D+ Tire Rack 18” Wheels TPMS, Costco Michelin X-Ice. Great combo.

bp | 2 septembre 2019

Thanks all, great advice. I think I’m going to go with the Hakkas on these wheels, then potentially buy a second set of aero wheels with an all-season for spring through fall after this winter.

If I order the tires myself, how does the TPMS work?

calvin940 | 2 septembre 2019

I got what Howard did except I got mine from a place in Quebec called PMC Tire (I'm on the East Coast of Canada).

When you buy all components (rims, TPMS, and tires), they will assemble and balance for free and ship them ready to install.

The TPMS are the pressure sensors that they install on the tire and were Tesla compatible ones for me. The car recognized the change as soon as that was done and the screen popped up a message to request re-calibration and all was good.

Iwantmy3 | 3 septembre 2019

I changed my tires over to Michellin Cross Climate+. These are all weather, full winter rated tires that are also performance summer tires. This should eliminate the question of having to maintain summer and winter sets. Haven't had a chance to try them in snow yet. That may not happen for a few more months.

bjrosen | 3 septembre 2019

Are winter tires necessary on the AWD? I used all seasons the year round on my last ICE car, a Chrysler 300C AWD, and never had a problem. On my Chevy Volt, which is FWD, snow tires were an absolute necessity. The Volt came with low rolling resistance tires that wouldn't function at all on even the slightest amount of snow.

gparrot | 3 septembre 2019

It has been proven many times that winter tires operate better than other types anytime the temperature dips below +7ºc. The rubber is softer and adheres better to the road - hence better traction and as important, better braking. End of argument as far as I’m concerned.

Bighorn | 3 septembre 2019

I use dedicated winter wheels on my RWD Model S and Michelin all-seasons on my AWD Model 3. Both do great in Wyoming winters.

nwsrgilmore | 3 septembre 2019

I purchased a dedicated set of 20" wheels for my Michelin Alpin winter tires and they worked well in the snow that we had in the NW last year. I do the swap at home too, so no need to haul tires to a tire shop to have them swapped.

bp | 3 septembre 2019

As the OP I’d like to request the topic not diverge into whether true winter tires are necessary for AWD: that is subjective depending on the type of winter driving you do, and NOT subjective based on the fact that braking - which is a constant irrespective of which/how many drive wheels are powered (caveat for regen) - is better on snow/ice with true winter tires.

For me, true snowflake-on-the-mountain snow tires are essential during the winter months, both for driving conditions and that they’re sometimes required by law (along with carrying chains) in extreme circumstances.

So I’m definitely getting a set for my AWD.

coleAK | 3 septembre 2019

@bp well said.

My general advice on winter tires: first off tires are the most important piece of winter driving equipment, true snow tires (not snow flake all seasons) preform better on snow and ice hands down. “going” is better with AWD “stopping” isn’t, if snow tires save you from one crash they are well worth it, overall other than the initial expense in the long run it isn’t that much more $$$, end up buying 2 sets of tires (1 winter, 1 all season) every ~8 years, and I guess the best way to sum it up is surviving vs thriving. Yes you could survive in the winter with all seasons and the AWD or you could thrive with a good set of true winter tires (I prefer Nokian).

I know a guy that drives a mustang Shelby GT350 year round up here in AK winter on Hakka 9’s. I would bet $$$ that that car would drive circles around my LR AWD with the OEM all seasons on our winter road conditions.

Iwantmy3 | 3 septembre 2019

I just want to point out that the "snow flake all season" Cross Climate+ tires have been reviewed multiple times and have been shown to match dedicated winter tires in winter conditions.
There are a lot of these reviews. I did not choose these on a whim. Michellin's own site compares them against their own dedicated winter tires and indicates that they perform equally well in winter conditions. These are full snowflake rated winter tires that also perform well in summer conditions.

coleAK | 3 septembre 2019

^^^ that video was a joke. He was over exaggerating pretty much everything. Yes there was snow but Most of the roads were clear. Said he was driving through a foot of snow that looked more like an inch... the tires were spinning all over the place every time he was on the “snow”, given all that spinning they would be terrable on ice. And snow isn’t the bif problem in the winter it’s ice. Many all seasons do pretty good on soft snow but the difference between winters and not dedicated winters gets much farther on ice.

Yes all weathers are a good option for places with a mild winter or for people who live in a non winter climate but drive up to one regularly (Like living in the bay are and driving to Tahoe on the weekends). But in no way do they match a dedicated winter tire like Hakka, X-ice, blizzak.

walnotr | 3 septembre 2019

Used to swap back and forth on my Audi but never had an extra set of wheels. I could never justify the cost of OEM wheels and didn’t care to go with steel wheels in the winter. I would recommend and extra set of wheels and tires simply because there will be less wear and tear on the rubber and you will be able to make the swat at your convenience. Last time I looked the Tesla wheels seemed pretty reasonable.

Oh, and you can’t beat studded tires if they are legal in your area.

I don’t drive in snow/ice anymore so, not really a problem for me.

Syed.Hosain | 3 septembre 2019

When I lived in New Hampshire, I used a second set of cheap wheels with snow tires for my cars (pre-Tesla ICE).

The cost of changing tires on a single set of wheels more than once a year, being timely to select when to change, being caught with regular tires and having an unexpected snowfall, etc., meant that it was worth having snow tires+wheels that I could simply change in my own garage on my own schedule.

IMHO: safest thing to do.

PECo CT | 3 septembre 2019

If you plan to do the seasonal swap yourself, a dedicated set of winter tires AND wheels is your best bet. Once you get used to swapping your own wheels and tires, it's easy peasy.

I bought my winter wheels and tires from Tire Rack. The TMPS sensors that Tire Rack installed for the Model 3 work flawlessly. After I installed the wheels and tires for the first time, the car detected the sensors within a block of my house, prompted me to enter the wheel diameter and I was good to go all winter.

PECo CT | 3 septembre 2019

If you plan to do the seasonal swap yourself, a dedicated set of winter tires AND wheels is your best bet. Once you get used to swapping your own wheels and tires, it's easy peasy.

I bought my winter wheels and tires from Tire Rack. The TMPS sensors that Tire Rack installed for the Model 3 work flawlessly. After I installed the wheels and tires for the first time, the car detected the sensors within a block of my house, prompted me to enter the wheel diameter and I was good to go all winter.

PECo CT | 3 septembre 2019

I almost forgot to mention the complication I experienced with buying an aftermarket set of wheels and tires. The rotors on my Model 3 are held on with a retaining bolt that has a protruding head.

On many rotors, the retaining bolt will have a head that's flush with the rotor. On many other rotors, a retaining bolt isn't used at all, because the rotor is held on by the brake caliper, wheels and lugs. If the bolt head interferes with your aftermarket wheels, you can drill a hole in the back side of the wheel to accommodate the bolt head or just remove the bolt.

liantics | 3 septembre 2019

We have a house on the north side of a mountain in VT. One of our forms of entertainment is watching AWD trucks without snow tires sliding backwards down the hill. Tires matter a LOT in certain kinds of weather.

Spartan24 | 3 septembre 2019

The one point that might be important to whether you need winters on AWD or not is info for those that don’t know that the performance version of AWD model 3 come with a tire that is not equipped to work at all in snow or ice. You won’t get but a few blocks before you know this (if that far). And some folks just don’t have that experience and might think that if it’s an AWD, then there must be an all season on there that would be good enough. Not true on the performance model. You’ll spin and lose control immediately.

howard | 3 septembre 2019

terry.k.morrow Not true on the performance model. You’ll spin and lose control immediately.

+1 Very easily.

Panevino | 20 octobre 2019

I'm thinking about getting 235/35R-20 MICHELIN PILOT ALPIN PA4 for Winter from Costco. About $700 cheaper than going with Tesla's Pirelli Sotto Zero 2 in size 235/35R20 and it's easier to get to a Costco than my Tesla dealer with a long lead time appointment.

I don't plan to drive in show but want the tires for cold dry weather in the winter. I have an ICE Subaru for purposeful snow driving but lots of winter days in Colorado are just cold and dry. I don't plan to take this to snowy areas on purpose but if I'm caught in snow I now they will be good.


Bighorn | 20 octobre 2019

No need for snow tires if you’re not driving in snow. You could always get caught out though in CO. It’s better and safer in the snow than a Subaru so I’d question that logic as well.

FISHEV | 20 octobre 2019

I've used Nokians, Xices on the AWD vehicles. I like the Xices (on the Subaru for last four years) and plan on putting slightly oversized Xices (245/40/R18) on the LR AWD.

Idea on the slight oversize is to give some rim protection as the 245/40 should stick out another 1/2" vs. the current 235/40/R18 Primacy.

I've always just had Les Schwab to a swap on the rims vs. spending $800 on some nice wheels. I see some folks put on horrible black steel wheels for winter. A bit too industrial for me on one end and wasted money on the other. Plus hauling the wheels/tires around and storage is also easier with just the tires.

Bighorn | 20 octobre 2019

You want your snow tires to be as narrow as possible to cut down to the pavement. Wider is just like your skis or snow shoes. You’ll sit on top of the snow, entirely defeating the purpose.

Bighorn | 20 octobre 2019
howard | 20 octobre 2019

Bighorn | October 20, 2019
You want your snow tires to be as narrow as possible to cut down to the pavement.


Panevino | 20 octobre 2019

bighorn, I'm just concerned with cold. I have summer performance tires and they may not grip as well in 20 degrees or even wet roads of 35 degrees. Although I had Eagle GT AS V-rated for my turbo Eclipse back in the day. I drove in snow, cold and all sorts of weather in Chicago and never had problems. When the tire tread wore, I replaced them. I never owned performance summer tires though before, which is why I ask.
My Forester is a great car for snow though, BTW.

Bighorn | 20 octobre 2019

Yeah, you definitely will want to change out summer rubber for cold weather. If you’re committed to keeping summer tires, then snow tires make sense. Otherwise you might go to an all season for year round use and longer tread wear. What I did when I sought to maintain low profile summer tires on the S was to get dedicated minus 2 winter wheels. It’s easier on the tires and rims if you’re not swapping rubber twice a year. You’ll be able to compare performance and see if the Subaru is on the same level. 18 inchers tend to have more options and a better price point.

Patronus | 20 octobre 2019

Research the new-ish Michelin CrossClimate +. Good for cold & wet weather, three-peak snow rated, yet you can leave them on year round.

FISHEV | 20 octobre 2019

"You want your snow tires to be as narrow as possible to cut down to the pavement. Wider is just like your skis or snow shoes. You’ll sit on top of the snow, entirely defeating the purpose."@Bighorn

Same for more range but we don't do that and frankly, with the new studless snows like Xice and Nokians, it matters not. No need to change tire size.

Also, most snow tires spend 90% of their time on regular pavement, a bit wetter and colder, but you don't want to give up handling and braking or 90% of your driving.

But again, the new super snows, it's just an outdated issue.

neilhamrin | 20 octobre 2019

Is the Crossclimate+ a directional tire?

FISHEV | 20 octobre 2019

That Cross Climate looks good.

howard | 20 octobre 2019

Tread design reminds me of past Nokians.

hotski7 | 19 novembre 2019

@PECo CT I just installed my own winter tires/wheels with non-Tesla rims and I see that rotor screw/bolt as being a possible issue... I didn't remove it, the rims don't seem to have a special slot to accommodate it like my factor rims do. Should I re-do the job and remove the screw? It seems to drive fine but it is making me very nervous...

Iwantmy3 | 19 novembre 2019

I purchased CrossClimate+ tires this summer. So far, the tires have been great. Last fall I found the MXM4s had traction issues even on dry pavement once the temperatures started approaching freezing. The rubber was too hard. The dry and wet traction on the Cross Climate+ was better than it was on the MXM4s through the summer and is much better so far this fall. I didn't find much difference on noise levels (it was hard to tell going from worn older tires to new tires). My energy consumption might be a bit higher but the difference is small enough that I can't tell for sure. In short, even as an all season tire I like them better than the MXM4s.

I have had my first chance to test these tires on snow and ice. We had a substantial fall snowstorm that melted on the warm pavement and then froze into ice (particularly on untreated back roads). I had no problems getting traction on the ice and driving though the snow. My old MXM4s would have been hopeless. I don't know how to compare these to dedicated snow tire alternatives since I have not had any on this car. However, I was very happy yesterday with their performance on the ice ans snow.

For anybody who isn't facing extreme winter conditions or will typically expect to see only a dozen days a year with snow on the roads, these are excellent tires that can be left on all year. Perfect for people like Panevino

posinator | 19 novembre 2019

second season on my 225/50 R18 Toyo Observe Garit KX Snow Tires. makes such a difference, would rather be in my 2018 RWD TM3 than either of my subarus. Can recommend.

Tesla couldnt get me wheels/tires package in time last year, so i swap snows with all-seasons in december/may. Costs me $100 but I dont have to rotate traditionally...

JPMAN | 27 novembre 2019

I know this has been covered but wanted to get a little more advice. I have PM3+ so want to switch to snow/year-round tires. But I probably really only need the "snow" tires 4-5 times a year, for my drives up to Tahoe (which can be brutal snow storms). Question is whether I go with year-round tires (CrossClimate+) or snow tires. TireRack is recommending snow/winter because performance is better and no real downside to driving with them without snow. They are also a little cheaper than the Cross Climate +. I would put them on some other inexpensive aftermarket 18" wheels from TireRack (which TireRack says are guaranteed to work with the Performance M3 with performance brakes).

So question is whether to get a year-round tire or a full snow tire for the 4-5 times I could potentially be in heavy snow and snow storms. Any advice?

Bighorn | 27 novembre 2019

I’ve had good luck with year round performance and wear from X-Ice.

surfpearl | 27 novembre 2019

M3P+ here. If you have room in the garage and the budget for OEM 20" winter tire/wheel set, that's what I would recommend. I love them, excellent handling and peace of mind on ski trips. Just swapped mine yesterday before the big storm here in SoCal and looking forward to skiing.

FISHEV | 27 novembre 2019

I've always swapped the tires. I just put on Michelin Xices on the base 18" wheels. No problems. Local tire shop handled it. Do 30 ski runs a year, mostly up to Hood and Bachlor but a couple runs to Whistler and Park City.

Never had any issues swapping tires on Escape Hybrid, Prius or Subaru previously. Don't like the bad look of the black steel wheels and can't see spending on a second set of nice wheels.

MichMan | 31 décembre 2019

I have had my M3p+ for 2 days and it we just went from 55F and dry to 25F cold and 5” snow. Have the stock wheels and tires. Initially I could not get the tires to chirp on launch. Today, driving cautious at 30mph during a sharper turn, the car slid side ways. I gave it a little punch and the car corrected.

So, I am used to having a good set of winter tire/wheel set up on previous Audi Q5. That turned a pretty good handling suv in snow conditions into a monster. So, I know to enjoy my M3p+ going to need to pick up a snow tire or tire/wheel package.

My dilemma is do I stay with 20 rim or switch to 18. If I stay with a 20, I think I just by the tires. But, if there is better handling and performance for snow conditions with an 18 set up, I would by a winter tire/wheel package. After reading thus far, kinda think the Nokia’s sound like the tire. This could be a long shot, but anybody, got some experience with the M3p+ going down to 18 and feeling it better in the snow? Lastly, thinking the Nokia is the best winter tire it the AK people like em.