Hello, The current tire size for my summer tires is 205/55/R16 (Mazda3). I would like to purchase some winter tires but there are different options at the R16 range. Should the tire size be identical to my summer tires? I am willing to buy seperate rims to be used just for my winter tires so I think I can go down to R15. Is a smaller size best for the snow? I will go into the tire shop to confirm everything, I am just trying to price out some tires online and want to check my options. Thank you :o)
Your tyre size is your tyre size. It's dicated by the size of your wheels. What is all this about summer & winter tyres? Do we now have to buy a new set every 6 months?
You should stick with a tire that has the same outside diameter. Generally for winter driving a narrower tire will be better than a wide profile tire. Since your Mazda has fairly low profile summer tires look for something in a 65 series vs. 55 which will be narrower and have the tire shop confirm the width to match, or nearly so, the diameter of the 55's.If you drop down to 15" wheels, the profile will have to get pretty tall, perhaps 70 or 75 series to match outside diameters and very narrow compared to what you have now. You may not like the handling on dry roads at all with this option. The car will feel pretty unstable.
You want to keep the same tire height, so that your speedometer is not off. I have no experience with winter tires, as it is not needed in Louisiana, but calculating tire height is actually pretty easy.The first number is your tire width measured in mm, the second is your aspect ratio (think of it as a percentage), and of course the last is rim diameter in inches. To keep the same height with a smaller rim (we'll use your summer tires as an example), you multiply the tire width by your aspect ratio to get the sidewall height. This number is in mm, so just convert it to inches. 205x0.55= 112.75mm112.75 / 25.4 = 4.44inSo your side wall height is 4.44 inches, meaning that your full tire height for a 16in diameter rim is 16in+(4.44in x 2)= 24.88inThis means for a smaller diameter rim, you will need either a wider tire with the same aspect ratio or a higher aspect ratio with the same tire width to keep the same tire height. Some that would be close are 225/55 or a 195/65
You will always be safe to stick with the tire size the engineers and designers at Mazda determined would be best for your automobile, regardless if you are running summer or winter tires. However, as a general rule, a narrower width tire does indeed perform better in the snow. The narrower tire allows you to slice through the snow, as apposed to a wider tire which has more resistance. With that said, you could go down to a 195/60R16 winter tire if you wish. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 would be an outstanding choice in that size.
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