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Mazda5 Tires & Wheels

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,913
Talk about your Mazda5 tire & wheel issues here.

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  • sampsamp Posts: 7
    Does anyone know if the Mazda5 has standard sized tires, if it is easy to find replacements? One problem I've had with my Protege 5 has been finding replacement tires when I need them. Both times I had to replace a tire, it was difficult to find replacements, and I would get comments like "that's an odd rim size" and so on. My parents even had problems finding tires for their MPV because it was an odd size tire.

    I'm curious if the Mazda5 will have the same problem.
  • "One problem I've had with my Protege 5 has been finding replacement tires when I need them. Both times I had to replace a tire, it was difficult to find replacements, and I would get comments like "that's an odd rim size" and so on."

    Really? Do you live in a small town? Because if you go to the specs page for the Mazda5 here on Edmunds.com you will see that the Mazda5 tire size is: P205/50VR17. That doesn't sound like an odd size to me.
  • rlawrence - The Protege 5 and the Mazda 5 are two completely different vehicles.

    Personally, I think the tires are way too oversize for a family wagon. If I purchase a 5 I'll probably swap out the monster rubber for 195/65 R15s and new rims. There's only about .4% speedometer error and 1) I'd get better gas mileage, at $3 per gallon this is significant and 2) I'll save $300 to $400 each time I replaced the tires.

    Mazda really needs to parallel market to "sensible" over 30's. The Matrix/Vibe twins were all about youth appeal when they came out yet the majority of drivers I see in these are seniors attracted by a small economical wagon.
  • smariasmaria Posts: 279
    I've had my Mazda5 for 2 weeks, and I love the feel of the Toyo tires. Not sure I'd like softer tires on the 5.

    1) I'd get better gas mileage, at $3 per gallon this is significant

    Do you know how much of a MPG difference this might make? At $3 per gallon, every 1.0 MPG increase in the Mazda5's mileage saves roughly $70 per 15,000 miles. So, I can see how an increase of 2-3 MPG could be significant.

    2) I'll save $300 to $400 each time I replaced the tires.

    Except for the initial tire change, of course ;)
  • "rlawrence - The Protege 5 and the Mazda 5 are two completely different vehicles."

    Really? Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Of course I know that the Protege5 and Mazda5 are different vehicles, especially since I own a Mazda5 (read my profile). However, his question was if the Mazda5 might have unusually sized tires and I was giving him the specs on that. Maybe I should have looked up the Protege5 specs to see what size stock tires were on that vehicle.

    "Personally, I think the tires are way too oversize for a family wagon."

    So-called practicality would doom it for certain. What attracted me and many others to this vehicle was not just the '5's functionality, but also some unconventional features like a manual transmission and sporty nature. Read the many customer reviews here at Edmunds and other sites on the Internet. Keep in mind, because the prospects of selling this vehicle in the NA are low to begin with, Mazda had to keep the choices simple. Europe is another story because vehicles of this class and size are extremely popular. I am sure it's the same way for American cars sold abroad. Choices are kept relatively simple when projected sales volumes are small.

    "Mazda really needs to parallel market to "sensible" over 30's."

    Why? And what is a sensible over 30-year-old? Again, it's the KISS principle and Mazda felt they should make the car appeal to the broadest possible audience.
  • sampsamp Posts: 7
    As was mentioned by someone else, the Mazda5 and Protege 5 are two different cars. I've had my Pro5 since 2002. Tire size is P195/60R16 on a Pro5. And to answer your question, no, I don't live in a small town. I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

    The first time I had tire problems, it was in BC, but the second time, about year ago, I was in the US travelling through Washington state. We ended up "stranded" at a hotel since no one had tires close enough, it was evening, and we couldn't get home on the donut. So the next day I had to phone around and I found a dealer 1.5 hours away. Travelling that far on the freeway with a donut, going under the speed limit during local rush hour with my hazards on, and with the car completely packed to the gunnels with camping gear, was pretty stressful. :)

    So I'm sensitive to tire availability now, which is why I'm wondering if I will have a hard time finding replacements if I get a Mazda5.
  • Again, I realize the vehicles are different cars (especially since I considered buying the Protege5 and I did buy a Mazda5). But your question was whether or not the M'5's tire size was unusual and I pointed out that it does not seem like an unusual tire size to me.
  • "Tire size is P195/60R16 on a Pro5"

    Are you sure? I did a look-up on factory specs for a 2002 Protege5 and it's 195/50R16. Maybe that's why you're having such a difficult time finding tires? I thought the size you gave sounded a bit odd - given that the Protege5 seemed to have a fairly low profile tire. I did a quick search here in SoCal for the correct tire size and had no trouble finding it in stock. I cannot say how difficult or easy it would be be to find a 195/60-16 tire.
  • sampsamp Posts: 7
    Sorry, that was a typo. For a while, the Pro5 was only one of two cars that shipped with that size tire (stock) and there were only two kinds of tires available in that size. I can't remember what the other car was. I'm sure now it's a little more common (over a year since my last problem), but I doubt it's something every tire store near an interstate freeway stocks even now.

    But it's good to know the Mazda5 has a generally available tire size.
  • Got my car back, and have now been driving in very snowy conditions in Winnipeg, Canada. I bought the base version, which in Canada has 16 inch wheels, specifically because I felt the tires would be better in Winter. Other than the low ground clearance and spoiler, which scoops up snow from the road, the car handles surprisingly well in winter conditions. Has anyone put on snow tires, and if so, did they find significant improvements in winter handling?
  • ffunffun Posts: 29
    Why do you think 16 inch wheels will be better in winter? I've noticed that a lot of people also believe this but I've never gotten a good explanation as to why. Some say that a narrower tire is better at digging through the snow. That doesn't make any sense as modern winter tires are designed for traction on the snow rather than digging through it. When it comes to ice the wider your wheels are the better. Spreading out the weight gives you more traction on ice (Ever try walking on ice with skate guards on?). The only reason I can see 16" wheels being better is price. If I'm wrong, please let me know why.
  • The way I've always understood it, narrower tires will concentrate the weight over a smaller area and dig down, providing better contact with the road surface. Wider tires would act like a snow shoe and spread your weight so you would ride on top. But this doesn't have a lot to do with choosing a 16-inch wheel over a 17-inch one, as the section width will be almost the same. What the 16-inch wheel would allow is better availability. The standard 17-inch tires are more of a summer tire with their short sidewall. I don't think there are a lot of low-profile snow tires out there. Most available snow tires will have a taller sidewall as the tread block is taller than an all-season or summer tire.
  • ffunffun Posts: 29
    The only way you'll ever dig down with a winter tire is if you are spinning your wheels. This is never a good thing and usually gets you stuck. You'll never dig down to the road surface. You'll just polish the snow into a nice icy rut. Most winter tires are designed with sipes provide traction on ice. The wider the tire the more sipes you have.
  • Yeah but the siping only disperses wet material. Snow packs into the tread fairly quickly and creates a slick. I would think you'd still want to dig down because it would give you better traction. The concentrated weight will also probably create more heat and help to melt the snow beneath it better. And on ice, logic says narrower is better. Think of a skate blade versus a shoe. The skate cuts in because the weight is concentrated on a point and allows you to accelerate away fairly easily. A shoe will just slide around. Of course studs and chains would be best. Maybe we need some engineers to weigh in on this. :)
  • On pure ice or hard pack a wider tire with the sipes would be better because of the larger contact patch, but in loose conditions, i.e., snow, slush, even gravel, you want a narrower tire to cut through the junk to the better surface below. Wider tires are nasty in snow and especially slush as they will "float". Here is an interesting site from MOT (Canadian Govt) regarding ABS with some info about longer stopping distances in snow.

    As for low profile, e.g., 17" rims vs. 15" rims, I have no idea if that makes a difference in performance. All I know is trying to get 17" snows for the Mazda5 would be difficult and expensive. We are picking our GT today and I am hoping the tires are sufficient for this winter - next winter I will put on 15" rims with snows.
  • ffunffun Posts: 29
    Your skate to shoe analogy is terrible. A skate has sharpened metal edges which gives you grip laterally but not strait ahead. If you want to compare wide versus narrow try walking on ice in shoes and then in skates with rubber guards on the bottom. You will definitely have better traction in the shoes (I know this as I have tried it).
  • ffunffun Posts: 29
    This issue has been really bugging me so I've done a little bit of research and come up with the following.

    1. Going to a smaller wheel will mean cheaper rims, tires, and more selection so it is definitely a good choice.

    2. Friction is calculated using a coefficient of friction between two materials and normal force. Surface are is not really a factor. Therefore the width of the tire has very little effect on friction force.

    3. Everyone experiences different winter driving conditions. I live in Edmonton, Alberta where we have long cold winters. Most of the driving I do is on plowed streets and highways. What concerns me is ice and packed snow. In this case I don't thing the size of the tire will make make much difference. If you encounter a lot of fresh snow and slush then I would agree that a narrow tire can be better. If you are driving through 6" of snow, there will be less rolling resistance on narrow tires and they will therefore require less traction to move forward. Narrower tires are also better for slush since there usually firm footing underneath the slush that you want to get to and a narrow tire can carve through the slush easier.

    In summary, down sizing definitely makes the most financial sense. As far as ice traction goes it makes very little difference what size your tires are. Narrow tires can be better because of decrease rolling resistance through snow and cutting through slush to get to pavement.
  • I agree in Alberta tire width is not a big issue. Here in Ottawa where we do get a lot of slushy junk, wide tires are a quick ticket to the nearest ditch. And cost is a big issue as well - a buddy of mine got one of the first Infiniti G35 coupes with the big Brembo brakes. He could not physically get smaller rims (had 18") because of the brakes hence had to pop for $1300 in snow tires!

    As for tire size not affecting overall traction, that is wrong. The concept of the available force simply being a factor of the coefficient of friction times force on the contact area is so simplistic it only applies to grade 9 science. In general you want as much tire contact patch as you can "afford" as long as the surface is reasonable. Once the surface turns to junk like gravel, snow, mud, slush, etc. then you are now into a completely different ball game.
  • Thanks for adding some science to this discussion. It does seem to matter what kind of surface you are most likely to encounter. I guess I was picturing Chicago-style slushy roads and occasional heavy snow and ice as opposed to unplowed roads and solid ice underneath. Seems like 4-wheel-drive and a lot of praying might be your only hope in the latter. Now I remember why I moved to California. :)
  • Simplistically, a long, narrow contact patch seems to do better in snow than a wide, short one. Perhaps because it allows more compression of the surface.

    Michelin X-ICE or Nokian RSI's are excellent studless snows. We have the Nokians on an Accord V6 and I'm going to put X-Ice on my subaru this Winter.
  • For this discussion I turn to the best science there is: observation. Hmm...4 cylinder, front wheel drive (and all-wheel drive) performance cars? WRC!!! World Rally Championship racing is probably the most overall demanding (and fun to watch) motorsport out there on 2,3, or 4 wheels. There are three basic types of roads: paved, unpaved, and snow covered. Tires for each surface differ greatly in function and appearance. Tires for tarmac (paved roads) are wide, low profile tires on large rims. Tires for unpaved (gravel, dirt, mud) are high profile (tall sidewall) tires on a smaller rim, with a narrower width than the tarmac tires. The snow tires, similar to the offroad tires, have a tall sidewall on a smaller rim, but they are very narrow, especially compared to the tarmac wheels. I would say that if you are looking for best perfomance in snow, follow the lead of the ones who drive at 100+ mph on it!
  • I've always believed most off-roading - snow, mud, and sand - is about flotation. More surface area on contact patches distributes the weight better to assist flotation. Look at tanks and snowmobiles - treads for more surface area.

    I can verify that when 4-wheeling in NC red clay that momentum is your friend and if you lose it you sink. And walk home.
  • On long stretches of unplowed or deep snow, yes, that makes sense. Like using a snow shoe to stay on top. But over asphalt or concrete when the snow starts to melt, wider tires become more dangerous over wet material for the same reason. In those situations you want to cut down through to the high-traction surface and not ride on the water.
  • I do believe that when the snow starts melting that digging down (narrow tires) is good. Maybe it's a NC thing, we get a lot of ice here, but the only thing I've ever dug down to through the fluffy stuff on top is hard-packed ice underneath. And I'm convinced it doesn't matter how wide your tires are or how many wheels you're driving on the ice.

    I'm also convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that summer tires on a Miata on the ice makes for an absolutely miserable drive home. ;)
  • I'd like to hear from someone with 17inch tires and lots of experience driving in snow. Can the Mazda 5 get up an icy driveway without snow tires?
    Are there any plans for bringing out an AWD version next year?
  • I grew up in new england and live in central ohio. I've had the 5 for two snowfalls and have had zero problem getting up my unplowed driveway or around my unplowed neighborhood.

    BTW, the manual mode supports starting in 2nd gear for icy conditions. I found that starting in 2nd and using a light foot will overcome the shortcomings of the stock tires. Of course, I accepted long ago that my driving habits need to change with the weather.
  • edf4edf4 Posts: 65
    I grew up and still live in Connecticut and last Friday had my first opportunity to drive our M5 manual on both packed plowed roads and deep, (10"), unplowed roads with the stock wheels & tires and was left with mixed opinions. While they provided adequate grip on packed plowed roads, they were downright miserable in the deep stuff. Although I did not get stuck, I came very close when my forward momentum slowed, and I felt that if I were to stop that I would not have been able to get started again, especially on a hill. While it did drive better than a rear drive car with all seasons, it was no comparison to our awd Subaru which has four Nokian Hakkapelitta Q snow tires, though I didn't expect it would. And I recognize that this is an unfair comparion, but I'm hopeful that after I mount the four Dunlop Winter Sport M3 snow tires on Kazera 16" wheels I just purchased through the Tire Rack, that my winter confidence in this vehicle will grow significantly.
    So essentially, it depends what you'll be driving in, and how often. But I do want to stress to anyone thinking of buying this vehicle, that it is an excellent vehicle, a fun driver and other than in heavy snow, the stock tires will do for winter and excel in summer. But, if in doubt, you can't go wrong with a set of four snow tires, whatever the brand. They are well worth the investment and piece of mind.
  • wusterwuster Posts: 153
    Here is question for you guys mounting snow tires.

    How does the new tires work/affect the TPMS system? Does the warning light just stay lite on the dash all the time?
  • edf4edf4 Posts: 65
    Good question. This was one that had me stumped and hesitant to buy aftermarket wheels for a while, until I read here, or somewhere, that the TPMS is only on the vehicles with a navigation system, which mine does not have. Thus, any wheel will work, (hopefully). However, if you have the navigation and thus the TPMS system, then you must find a wheel which will accept the Mazda TPMS valve stems, otherwise you will have that idiot light on all winter long, or until the bulb burns out.
  • wusterwuster Posts: 153
    Yup, we have nav on our Mazda5, thus the TPMS. But interestingly, it was not mentioned anywhere on the Mazda literatures that TPMS came with Nav (at least the ones that I read).
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