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Mazda CX-9 Tires and Wheels

tgdamantgdaman Posts: 1
Hi all, I have owned Mazdas for the last 15 yrs or so. Thinking about buying the CX, so went for a test drive a few days ago. I was concerned about the ride quality of the 20's so tried it out. Then after that, drove the one with 18 inch wheels over the same course. I really couldn't tell any difference in ride, but what I noticed right away was the higher level of tire/road noise with the 18 (yes eighteen) wheels. I was wondering if anyone else found this to be true. With Mazdas, its wonderful how the ride smooths out at highway cruising.


  • 99zoomr99zoomr Posts: 55
    My CX-9 came with the 20" wheels. I've heard the 18 inchers are supposed to have a better ride, but never tried them out. I think my CX-9 has a firm ride, but I actually like it that way. I did check the tire pressure a few weeks ago, and they were all at 38 lbs. I lowered the pressure to the 34 on all corners, as recommended on the door sticker. The ride, tracking, and cornering seemed much better. The steering also seemed less "twitchy" than before. Make sure to check the tire pressure to see if they may be over inflated. A few pounds really makes a difference...
  • flcx9flcx9 Posts: 2
    We were concerned with ride/road noise with 20" wheels. We wanted a well optioned Grand Touring and settled on one with the Grand Touring Assistance Package and all other options expect the mud guards. Our road car for the last few years has been a Lexus LS 430, after 2K miles and two trips with the CX 9 I have to say its almost as quiet with the 20" wheels as the LS. With the exception of the doors locks not locking automatically we're happy happy with the package and think its a great value. My wife is pretty sensitive to road noise and and rattles. She's happy with the CX 9 and so am I.
  • imamgimamg Posts: 136
    DId you know you could have the dealer reprogram your car to lock automaticaly?
  • the noise has to do with the tire tread pattern, not the diameter size of the tire. it's possible that the 18's may be a different tread design than the 20's.

    as far as the ride difference, you'll definitely get a more sport ride with the 20's as there is less sway when turning. 18's have more height (from the outside wheel edge to the outside tire radius) to absorb more road shock...but 20's are a perfect diameter for this SUV...
  • Edmunds raised a concern about road noise from the 20 inch wheels that come on the Grand Touring and suggested (if that was a concern of the buyer) to consider asking the dealer to swap the wheels with the 18 inch wheels that come on the Touring. Anyone have concerns about that?
  • After everything I read about the 20"ers, I had already decided on a regular ol Touring...until I actually DROVE a GT. I have no idea what these people were talking about, I have seen it mentioned that there is a particular type of road in California that makes these wheels punish the driver, but they were nothing but smooth for me, and that included high speed over a concrete paved bridge on an interstate with the "gaps".

    After driving it, I completely forget about what I read and focused on getting a GT instead since it has some features I want (except MORE chrome...GYAH! LESS chrome, PLEASE - I'm not 17 yrs old!)
  • After 6 months and 7500 miles on the 20" rims, I have no complaints. Firm but smooth and quiet ride...
  • Same with us. I pick up my GT tomorrow AM! I thought about swapping the wheels with the 18's but after driving both my wife (who is sensitive to this stuff) said she like the FT ride better.
  • Great. Picking our us up in AM!
  • imamgimamg Posts: 136
    The proof is always in the pudding... info is here to help ... not to make the decision for you... We've had our GT for a few months now...and have zero complaints about the ride... th 20's give it such a nicer stance visualy too... it's Cx-Y ;)
  • I've got the 07 Touring (12,000mi) with 18's and believe the road noise is in the tires themselves. I have had Dualer tires before and even though the tread doesn't look all that agressive, it sure sounds that way. I can't wait until I wear these out.
    Love the heck out of the car though. I agree with another post, went with the Touring b/c the wife and I didn't like all the chrome.
  • I'm looking at getting a CX-9 GT, but want to put the 18:" rims on it. One dealer I'm talking to says they've done it - no problem. The other dealer says it will throw off the ABS calibration, odometer, void the warranty, etc. Has anyone had the dealer put 18" rims on the GT?

    Second, for any tire experts out there in snow country - would you expect any difference in snow/ice traction between the 245/60R18 H speed rated on the Touring vs the 245/50R20 V-Speed rated on the GT?

  • I bought the CX9 GT and kept the default 20 in wheels. We are in snow country but haven't had snow yet. Our dealer was willing to swap the wheels/tires for us and told us it would not cause any of those issues. He specifically refuted the idea that it would throw off the odometer and checked into it himslef. Sounds like your dealer does not want to accommodate you. Having said that we test drove 18 and 20 in wheels (on non GT and GT) and preferred the larger wheels. I have looked into snow tires for the 20 in wheels and the only ones I can find in that size tire are Blizzaks at $250 per tire (w/o install). Waiting for the first snow to see how it handles.....
  • Thanks for the info. That was my feeling too - that the dealer just didn't want to do it. I did the research and the tread width and diameter of the tires are essentially identical.

    Question on the Blizzaks. Do you know how those wear vs normal dry weather tires? Are they a tire you can drive on all year, or do they need to be pulled off in the warmer months?
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    I fail to see how the 20" rim will be more problematic than an 18" rim in the snow. In the case where you would have the exact same brand tire on each rim, why would the 20" rim handle worse in the snow? Tire widths are about the same, tread pattern would be the same...I just don't see the issue here.

    I know some people switch out their nice summer rims for cheapo ones in the winter, but that's usually because they are downsizing in rim size so that their winter tires will be cheaper.

    It would be interesting to read the Acadia forums: the Acadia comes in optional 19" rims, so when winter hits it might be a nice benchmark to see if these folks have issues (the reason I mention the Acadia is because their forums are much more active than the CX-9 forums, so there should be more real-life data there).
  • Thanks for the reply. It isn't so much the rim diameter as the speed rating of the tire. the 20" has a V-rated tire and the 18" has a H-rated tire. I'd heard that the slower the rating the better in the snow/ice.

    I also had fears of going into the tire store when the 20" tires need replacing. Best estimates I could get is that the 20" tire would run between $75 and $100 more per tire to replace than the 18"! Ouch.
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    Got ya!

    I think you're right about the tires, on average the 20" will cost more, and you will have less choices than the 18". I am also looking at the GT, and had looked around since I had the same concern. Sam's Club does have a couple brands at about $100 per tire, that's the best that I saw (but you have to order online). I'm sure Costco would have similar deals.

    As for winter tires and speed rating: Consumer Reports tested V and H-rated winter and all-season tires, and the bottom line is that there are no correlations between a higher speed rating and lower performance (i.e. the V and H-rated tires get the same performance ratings). What I did find is that there seem to be more choice of H-rated tires.

    I think you might be thinking of a pure performance summer tire with high speed rating, whose rubber compound hardens in the winter and thus does not provide optimal traction. But here you're looking at two all-season tires, so differences are minimal.
  • We're due to pick up our AWD GT in February, and because of the requirement to have chains to travel in some areas (the Alps) in the winter, I'm looking for a source that won't cost me an arm and a leg. Has anyone had any luck obtaining some?

    The chains I bought for my Honda CRV were over $100, an my friend just bought some for his 18" tires for about $350, so I'm just a wee bit concerned.
  • In the manual it states not to use chains with the 20" rims. (page 4-10). Look at getting the 18" rims installed in place of the 20". My dealer (Colorado Springs, Colorado) gladly installed the 18" rims on my GT. You may also find a slightly better grip with the tires on the 18" rims as they have a slower speed rating which equates to slightly softer rubber.
  • Forget chains, just get decent winter tires. I run my CX-9 GT on 18" tires during winter here in Sweden. With today's technologies, no one has used chains in the Nordic countries since the dark ages - besides which there are illegal in certain areas. Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme seem to fit on 18" rims with no problem.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    The local ski hill 25 miles from my house is a bit more than 2100 metres high. Kebnekaise is about that - I wonder how many steep roads you have compared to the Sierra in California where chains are commonly required?

    Tahoe is at 1400 metres and the grade on the interstate going up to Donner Pass is steep, sometimes as much as 6%. Donner Pass on that route is 1818 metres and it's not the highest road pass in California. On one trip over, we decided to hit a motel late in the day and take our chances on clear weather the next day to avoid buying chains.
  • We bought Blizzak snow tires for our AWG GT. They were very expensive as they are 20" wheels - $289/tire! But they make a huge difference. First very light snow we drove the car with the factory (non snow) tires (with only 3000 miles on them) we slid through the first red light. That prompted the purchase of the Blizzaks and they made a huge difference.
  • I've heard that the Snow tires like the Blizzak work great in show/ice, but are terrible on dry pavement. How have yours done on dry pavement and how is the wear? I live in Denver, but go skiing often, so in 90% of the driving is on dry pavement in the city and then the weekend jaunt into the mountains (which is often dry highways, but some snow on side streets.)
  • I just purchased a 2008 GT with the 20" wheels from my local dealer in Maryland. I did read about the ride differences between the 18" and 20" wheels and recommendations to take a drive in both vehicles before deciding. The interesting part here is that I have only had this vehicle 2 days, and was checking air pressure in the tires of my old and trusty Isuzu Trooper. parked right next to the CX-9 in the driveway. I thought perhaps I should see what the pressure should be in the CX-9. Door post showed 34 PSI recommended. The tires were actually inflated to 45-46 PSI. Once adjusted to 34 PSI I took the CX-9 for a spin around the neighborhood and could feel quite a difference.

    Obviously my local dealer never checked air pressure before selling this car, but even more concern is that I could have taken this car out on the highway for a long drive and perhaps blown a tire, due to over inflation!

    I had read previously that auto makers do over inflate the tires, as the cars ride better on the car carriers. Not sure if this is true or not, but it certainly points out the need to double check everything once you have it home!

    So far the CX-9 is great! Love the handling - reminds me of a sports sedan! :)
  • I've had my ride for 9 months - I've taken it to the snow, the dirt, the city and the highway - the 20's I drive on are Sweet. No problems, unless you switch tires everyday for where you'll be driving, these are superior all-around tires.
    I don't find them noticeably noisy, or hard or soft to any material difference.

    If you compare them to racing tires or Off-road Desert Tracker tires, yes, you'll notice a difference, but for an all-season $200 tire, you can't go wrong.

    Good luck and Hit it!
    Tahoe in 2 hours
  • Blizzaks are great in the snow-ice and will transform your CX9 in to a proper winter driver. In another post, I commented and felt the CX9 was unsafe with the stock 20s for winter driving due to vehicle weight and tire width, and immediatly went to a good set of snows to protect my 40k investment. The snows are not bad on dry roads but they are soft walled and made with soft rubber and if driven hard on dry roads will wear accordingly, especially warm-hot dry roads (read no snows in the summer!)... The deal with Blizzaks and like tires is the first half of their tread life is the best due to soft silica compounds, sipes, and pourousness of the rubber. Bottom line is the outer tread is really sticky when it comes to snow-ice handling and they will wear very quickly on warm dry roads. I live in Upstate NY and put snows on in December and take them off in March and will get 5-8 seasons out of a set of Blizzaks. I retire them with about 40% tread life left, even though they look good, and are safe but they do not do the same job as when new and I need the traction when it comes to deep snow and icy roads as I live in a lake-effect snow band. As the rim size goes up, the tire price does too. Because of this, I run smaller rim size tires with snows which also reduces the performace feel. MY CX9 AWD came with 20"s, I ebay sourced Mazda 18"s from that had TPS and had tire racke drop ship Blizzaks to a local installer. I now have two sets of tires, 20's with OEM tires for most of the year and 18"s with snows for the winter. No breaking them down every year to swap them, and they get rotated and both wear longer, and have TPS in both sets so no idiot lights either not to mention the 20s will never see road salt. I also have a 01 FWD Jetta with 16' BBS summer rims and 15' trash rims with Blizzaks for winter. I love the handling of the summer tires and love the traction of the winter tires BUT, like the CX9, it is a different car when I change tires and I drive accordingly. The CX9 and Jetta actually ride softer with the snows, with a little bit more noise, and I never push the car in turns because of the tire. The cheep side of me also babies the snows so I can get many seasons out of them too. Hope this helps
  • rhannrhann Posts: 6
    I saw the manual states the 20" don't support chains, but the clearance looks adequate. I don't think it would be any better with the 18"s. It has more clearance than our old Sienna where we used cable chains. Any one have an opinion or suggestion of where to get chains?
  • The tire diameter will be the same with 18's or 20's so there will be no diffeence in clearance. The rim size changes the tire profile. recomend you buy a good set of Blizaks (4each) if snow performace is required
  • zotomomozotomomo Posts: 3
    Check out the Super Z6 cables here: hainz6_c.htm

    Just bought a set for my 20" wheels. They need very little clearance. These guys shipped it out fast.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    I bought similar ones for my 18's; they fit well and were easy to get on/off.
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