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Mazda5 Tires & Wheels



  • 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).
  • I might have been one of the first to post about this. The only place I ever saw it mentioned was in the brochure and on a sticker stuck to the side of a Touring model on the showroom floor. Navigation package includes GPS Navigation system and TPMS.
  • hifivehifive Posts: 72
    No, it can't get up an icy driveway, LOL. I was parked on my driveway for a minute last night while my husband moved some stuff from the garage. We had a heavy snowfall, and the driveway had been cleared except for a very fine layer of new snow. I had ZERO traction. Lately I roll slowly into the driveway. I must say as much as I love the Five I am looking forward to Spring, it is not great for winter driving. I feel like I should put chains on.

    HiFive in Minnesota :shades:
  • I read several of the posts that said that the 5 isn't exactly the greatest in the snow. A few of them suggested swapping in snow tires as a solution, but wondered the impact changing the rims would have on the tire pressure monitoring system on the Touring Edition. I live in CT and have targetted the 5 as the car I'll be buying in the spring. I'm just wondering if anyone has put snow tires on their 5 yet, if it made for more secure snow/ice handling (we have a sloped driveway, so I'll need to be able to exit my home), and if there is a solution to the TPMS issue (or does the light just stay on for the winter?).

    Any experiences would be welcome.
  • nym5nym5 Posts: 20
    I can't speak to the TPMS as our 5 does not have it, but the addition of a set of snows made a world of difference in winter driving. We went with a 16" alloy set with Dunlop SP M3's from tire rack. They grip great, snow or ice, are quiet, and look good too. And of course the ride is bit cushier with the larger tire/smaller wheel set-up.
    I would imagine the TPMS could be temporarily disabled by the dealer as well.
  • edf4edf4 Posts: 65
    The impact changing the rims will have on the TPMS system is that if you do not get a wheel that is compatible with the Mazda TPMS valve stems, then you will have the idiot light on all winter or until the bulb burns out. Perhaps there is a way to turn it off, but I doubt it.
    I live in CT too, (Hartford area), and just this evening also mounted Dunlop M3 snow tires on 16" wheels, (Kazera's), which arrived mounted (tire on wheel) and balanced, from the Tire Rack. Though I haven't had an opportunity to drive them in the snow, as all it did was pour rain here today melting the last of what we had, I did alot of research prior to buying and the Dunlop M3's got the best rating overall. But really, any winter snow tire would do better than the stock tires in snow and ice!
    Finally, there was a post a while back where someone was wondering if 15" wheels would fit on the 5. From what I can tell, the answer is a resounding no! With the 16" wheels, the wheel balancing weights clear the brake calipers by about a 1/2" at the most. Any smaller wheel and it wouldn't fit.
  • wheelz4wheelz4 Posts: 569
    I had a question about winter tires and went back & looked at your earlier post which more or less answered my question (did you drop down a size....from 17" to 16" when choosing winter tires?) How do you like the Dunlops now that you've had them on for a bit? Do they grip well in the snow?(yes, a limited slip would be nice). We mounted Nokians on our 2003 Aerio (almost like a 2/3 or 3/4 Mazda5!) but stuck with the stock size of 195/55-15, as the Aerio already looks under-tired with the 15's. They are pretty good except in deep, slushy snow....may have to do more with the limited ground clearance, short wheelbase and fairly light weight of the car rather than the actual grip of the snows. I like the new Rav4 for the AWD and ground clearance plus gas mileage isn't too bad either, even with the V6....however, the only version with a 3rd row seat in Canada goes for about 36 grand....about 11-12 grand more than a loaded Mazda5. So, if they make a few changes like I suggested above and it performs ok in the snow with winter tires, I just may pocket a few bucks and go with the 5. One more question, edf4....did you stick with Mazda's size for the 16" winter tires (205/55-16) or go with a true minus-1 size of 195/60-16? Thanks in advance for you help and any other insights you could give me. (N.B. Although both versions of the Mazda5 come with 17" wheels & tires in the U.S., the base version in Canada comes with 205/55-16's while the up-level version gets the 205/50-17's)
  • edf4edf4 Posts: 65
    In answer to your questions; yes, I did drop down a size from stock 17" to aftermarket 16" wheels for the winter tire set up, but stuck with the stock size of 205/55's, as that was what was recommended, though personally I would have preferred to go with a true minus-1 size of 195/60 as you mentioned. So far I haven't noticed a real difference in the ride quality with the snow tires vs. the stock tires, but then again, I didn't have the 5 for more than a month or two before switching over. But the Dunlop M3's are quite quiet on the highway for snow tires and overall, especially in snow and slush, they are a whole lot better than the stock tires; a hands down improvement! I got four and they perform as well as I would expect on essentially a single front wheel drive vehicle. Given their tread pattern, I would think they'll be excellent in the rain too. I also have pleasantly found that they have had little or no effect on my mpg. Before I got the Dunlops I swore by Nokians, but due to my inability to get the new RSI's when I wanted them, I have no regrets with the Dunlops, and got a good price on them from the tire rack at $109 a piece. Overall, I am now much more confident in the ability of the 5 with the M3's and believe it will do well in all but the most severe snowy conditions or steep hills, especially from a dead stop. If you will be encountering those rare conditions, it would be best to keep a set of tire chains in the trunk.
  • woddywoddy Posts: 12
    For tires I really like to order them via You can have them sent directly to your shop to have them installed. That way you have more choices and aren't at the whim of local tire shops. Also, the deals are great. By the way, I too have a Pro5, which I love. I'm in the market for a second car, which is why I'm checking out the Mazda 5 board.

    Vancouver, eh? I guess that makes you a Seahawks fan? I'm from Pittsburgh.
  • woddywoddy Posts: 12
    Oh, you know what else, the tire size you quoted IS odd. Did you get that from the owner's manual?

    The "p195" is the width of the tire.

    The "60" is the heighth of the tire as a percentage of the width. (40 being very low profile, 50 being lowish, 60 being pretty high)

    The 16 is the circumference. I dunno what the "R" means!

    The odd part about the measurements you quoted is the "60" That would be a relatively HIGH profile tire. That would look (and feel) kinda a little strange on a Pro 5. I would recommend a p195/50R16 (50 instead of 60). The rims don't care about that portion of the measurement.

    Anyway, will point you to getting the right tire cheaply and easily.
  • Hi Woody

    You have to be very careful when you compare tires.
    Every measurement is important.

    P205/50R17: P: Tourism tires
    205: Tire width (in millimeters, divide by 25 for inch)
    50: % of the width applied to sidewall height
    R: Radial tires
    17: Size of wheel.

    To find out a plus one or two or zero replacement, use that formula

    (Width/25)*(sidewall/100)*2+(size of wheel) = height of tire.

    Ex: Plus 1 for Mazda5 GT, Touring, Sport.
    P205/50R17 = (205/25)*(50/100)*2+17 = 25.2 Inches
    P225/40R18 = (225/25)*(40/100)*2+18 = 25.2 Inches
    (Almost perfect match, see note (1)).

    Plus 0
    P205/50R17 = 25.2 Inches
    P225/45R17 = 25.1 Inches, acceptable. (1)

    Rule of thumb, ± .5 inches difference from original size is acceptable, more than that will affect the odometer reading.

    So, for a down sizing for winter tire:
    P205/50R17 = 25.2
    P205/55R16 = 25.02 (acceptable)
    P195/60R16 = 25.36 (higher, but still acceptable)
    P195/50R16 = 23.8 (Too low, affect speedometer, tire do more turns)

    (1) For those of you with more knowledge of tires, Don't forget about the compressability of the sidewall ratio.
    Ex: 50 sidewall ratio tire vs a 45, IE a slightly lower 45 won't compress as much as a higher 50, thus making them almost same height...

    Don't forget, when doing Plus Size, that you will test before.
    Tire must clear fenders, steering and suspension when riding, turning, and going over obstacle (bumps).
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