Welcome to the Winter Tyre Reviews vehicle specific winter tyre advice, and take a look at what must be the best selling rear wheel drive vehicle in the UK – the 3 Series BMW.
Being rear wheel drive the 3-series can pose a challenge during the winter months, in fact we receive many calls from customers across the UK that can’t even get out of their drive when there is snow on the ground. The good news is that winter tyres will make a massive difference to performance and totally transform these vehicles. Better still is that (most) 3 Series are on pretty standard tyre sizes and winter tyres and wheel set ups are available at sensible prices.
Lets start with the smallest sizes that they can come on: 205/60R16.
If you have this as standard fit then it could be on runflat or standard tyres; standard – our vote would have to be the Vredestein Snowtrac 3. Consistently top placed in European winter tyre tests. Especially when the tests look at traction in snow this tyre generally comes out top. If on runflat then availability can be difficult for these, however Goodyear & Dunlop both produce quality tyres that may be available if you get in early enough. Also the Continental TS830 topped many of the winter tyre tests and is available now at Tyremen.
This tyre size is also what many 3-series owners drop down onto during the winter when 17″ and 18″ are fitted as standard. The reason for this is that the narrowness of a 16″ wheel really helps improve traction during winter, also the tyre costs are much more sensible. Most 3 series can reduce to 16″ wheels, although there are some exceptions:
3 Series coupe 2006 onwards – has to be 17″ upwards
3 Series cabrio 2007 onwards – 17″ and above
Other 3-series (E92/E93) – 16″ are only suitable for 90-140kW versions
If you want to check any of this data for your model, or are unsure which kW version you have, then you are welcome to try the Tyremen team who will be able to advise accordingly.
Assuming that you want to go down this route then 16″ wheel packages are available in steel or alloy. Steel wheels offer great value for money, whilst the alloys are more aesthetically pleasing. Wheel and tyre sets start at just over £600 and offer OE quality at discount prices.
Moving up to 17″ – generally BMW use 225/45R17 on both axles. On the very odd sports models they have a wider, and a very unusual size fitted to the rear. If this is the case then direct replacement could be tricky, We’d advise getting in touch with a tyre expert in order to check availability. However with regular 225/45’s you have a few options. Topping most of the tyre tests in recent years was the Continental TS830 P, which is available as a regular winter tyre and winter runflat. When moving away from runflats then there is a host of quality winter tyres available. Our partner site, Tyremen’s most popular winter tyre in this size was the Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme. There is very little review info out there in regard to this tyre but from personal experience they are fantastic. However availability of these in the UK can be really problematic as this tyre is very popular in mainland Europe. At this moment in time stocks are coming into the UK but will be limited. As a more cost effective option the Hankook W300 is well worth a look, it has a modern asymmetric pattern which is not overly aggressive and particularly suited to UK conditions.
This size is also what would be used if your 3-series came on 18″ wheels and you wanted to reduce wheel size for winter. Tyremen offer an Alutec alloy wheel which is great quality and perfect for winter use. Wheels are TUV approved for use on 3-Series and come with a 5 year guarantee on the paint finish.
18″ – Personally if your vehicle come on 18″ wheels then we would seriously consider either a 16″ or 17″ package. Failing that then you would probably need 225/40R18 for the front and 255/35R18 for the rear. In 2010 the Hankook W300 Icebear was very popular as a good quality tyre at sensible money. If these are unavailable then offerings by the premium manufacturers become silly money really and you would probably find smaller wheels and tyres for less money than split sized 18″ winter tyres.
Some new BMW’s do have 19″ wheel options, if you went for this then we’re sure that your 3-series looks lovely, but we wouldn’t expect it to go far in the winter! Tyres in the 19″ sizes are essentially impossible to source so wheels and tyres are going to be needed. However saying that we know the boys & girls at Tyremen love a good challenge so feel free to get in touch and see if they can source anything for you.
So now for the BMW newer 3 series, the F30, from 2012 onwards.
So the new 3 series, does any of the above advice change for these? Well yes and no!
In terms of wheels the spec is very similar, we can offer the same range of wheels that are suitable for the earlier models. The only difference is the tyre sizes used, BMW have opted for a higher profile tyre on the F30. They are now fitted with the following as standard:
Our partner Tyremen has set up new wheel & tyre packages for the F30 that have the correct tyre sizes and offer both standard and run-flat tyres depending on your need.
It appears that in terms of reducing wheel size the 316, 318 & 320 will take a 16″ wheel, whilst 325 versions and above will require a 17″ package. If your new 3 series has 18″ as standard then winter tyres are available in these sizes (even if 255/40 on the rear) and they could be swapped onto your existing wheels. If your vehicle has 19″ on then BMW have opted for a very unusual tyre size on the front and you will struggle to find a suitable winter tyre, you’ll need to look at a smaller package.
If you have a wheel and tyre package from an older model then really you would need the tyres changing before fitting to the new vehicle otherwise the speedo will become inaccurate. Our advice would always be where possible to sell your existing winter package along with any vehicle sale and start again on the new car.
If you need any further info don’t hesitate to ask the team at Tyremen.
Tel: 08456 807808
Have you had winter tyres fitted to your 3 series? let us know how they performed and help other 3 series owners with your advice! Leave a comment on the blog page or ask a question, we’ll get back to you.
The Winter Tyre Reviews Team