Mazda CX-9 Tires and Wheels

tgdamantgdaman Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member Posts: 136
    DId you know you could have the dealer reprogram your car to lock automaticaly?
  • lvdrumnlvdrumn Member Posts: 5
    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...
  • morley1morley1 Member Posts: 7
    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?
  • kbedwardskbedwards Member Posts: 41
    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!)
  • 99zoomr99zoomr Member Posts: 55
    After 6 months and 7500 miles on the 20" rims, I have no complaints. Firm but smooth and quiet ride...
  • morley1morley1 Member Posts: 7
    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.
  • morley1morley1 Member Posts: 7
    Great. Picking our us up in AM!
  • imamgimamg Member 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 ;)
  • cowboypinkycowboypinky Member Posts: 6
    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.
  • mikeha77mikeha77 Member Posts: 7
    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?

  • morley1morley1 Member Posts: 7
    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.....
  • mikeha77mikeha77 Member Posts: 7
    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 Member 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).
  • mikeha77mikeha77 Member Posts: 7
    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 Member 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.
  • expat69expat69 Member Posts: 2
    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.
  • mikeha77mikeha77 Member Posts: 7
    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.
  • etoilebetoileb Member Posts: 34
    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 Guest Posts: 52,454
    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.
  • morley1morley1 Member Posts: 7
    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.
  • mikeha77mikeha77 Member Posts: 7
    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.)
  • belaircarguybelaircarguy Member Posts: 107
    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! :)
  • dizmarkdizmark Member Posts: 3
    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
  • redgintonredginton Member Posts: 9
    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 Member 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?
  • redgintonredginton Member Posts: 9
    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 Member Posts: 4
    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 Member Posts: 3,572
    I bought similar ones for my 18's; they fit well and were easy to get on/off.
  • rhannrhann Member Posts: 6
    Thanks for the link. Those chains look like a good option. We will likely keep the 20" wheels as we rarely need chains and they look a little cooler. :-)
  • 16ue16ue Member Posts: 6
    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.

    The tires on my CX-9 GT that I took delivery in January 2008 in California were also over-inflated to 46 when hot but dropped down to 40.5 when the car sat in the garage overnight. I reduced the tire pressure to 35 psi when cold. The ride is definitely less bumpy now.
  • cericceric Member Posts: 1,092
    Tires on new vehicles were over-inflated for the sake of preventing flat-spotting during long transportation and sitting on parking lots. Dealers are expected to adjust the pressure and top off all fluids before deliver the vehicles to customers. Often than not, they didn't do their job.
    Check your tire pressure and fluid level. You would be surprised.
  • kbedwardskbedwards Member Posts: 41
    Within a couple of months of owning my CX-9, I was going up a ramp in a parking garage (SLOWLY obviously) and nipped the concrete barrier (approx 5-7" high, i.e. lower than a typical parking concrete "block") and blew out the two right side tires. I couldn't believe it. At the speed I was going, and the height of the obstacle, I was shocked at the carnage.

    I wonder if mine were overinflated as well. No way to tell now of course. That was an expensive lesson.
  • cericceric Member Posts: 1,092
    The sidewall of most tires are only polymer and rubber. The concrete barrier your tires ran into might have a sharp edge to it. It happened to me long time ago on my old Honda Accord. No tires are immune to that if the concrete barrier has a sharp edge to it.
  • fishrule1fishrule1 Member Posts: 4
    Let's cut to the chase here: if I blow out a single tire on my `08 GT AWD, can I replace it alone, or do I have to replace all four tires? Tire stores will tell you that the latter is the case, of course, but what is the truth?

    Oh, and, sorry if I missed the topic elsewhere. My search revealed nothing.
  • cericceric Member Posts: 1,092
    AWD system is more sensitive to left/right balance of tires on one axle.
    By balancing, I meant
    - diameter
    - tire grip (same brand, same age/wear)
    Even tire of the same "size" (i.e. 245/55R20) actually might have slightly different diameters (see for specs).

    So, in short,
    - if your tires are still new (few miles on them), I would buy the same tire and put just ONE on.
    - if your tires are pretty worn, I would recommend you buy two (per axle) and keep the old one as spare. And, put the newer two tires on the rear axle.

    That is just my opinion. Let us see what others have to say.
  • cericceric Member Posts: 1,092
    Just so that people who wonder about this know.
    Our CX9s are equipped with TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system). When rotating tires, you DO NOT need to reset the TPMS. Here is what I found after some research.
    - if your vehicle is capable of telling you WHICH tire has too low pressure, then, chances are you need to reset TPMS every time you rotate tires (such as some high-end luxury vehicles like Acura RL or Lexus LS)
    - if your vehicles is NOT capable of telling you that (like our CX9, which only shows a warning light), then, you simply rotate the tires like you used to do.

    I just rotated the tires over the weekend. 100 miles later, no light at all. Google search before I did it gave me confusing information. Therefore, I post the correct answer here to share with you all.

    When changing to new tires, make sure you tell the mechanics not to damage the sensors connected to the valve stem. They are pretty expensive. There is no way to turn the TMPS light off permanently since it is against Federal law. For those who use winter tires set, you either have to buy a new set of sensors to go with them or simply ignore the constant light of TPMS that shows up in your dash.

    According to the WorkShop Manual, our CX9s pressure sensors inside the tires sends signal to the central antenna (same one as your SmartKey or non-SmartKey receiver). The sensors do so once per hour and after the speed reaches 25km/h (15.5mph). "Once per hour" so that the little batteries inside the sensors can last 10 years.

    I can post the procedure to register the new sensors if anyone is interested.
    I believe it is also in your owners' manual so I omit it here.
  • smweekssmweeks Member Posts: 1
    Have you successfully used the cable chains? I want to make sure they fit before I invest in a set. Thanks.
  • farefare Member Posts: 4
    I'm in the market for a CX 9. I thought I wanted the GT until I read all the posts about how awful the tires are in the snow. I live in Maryland and only occassionally get snow so snow tires aren't a great option. I'm wondering if I should get a Touring instead. Any thoughts?
  • IntelGunnyIntelGunny Member Posts: 4
    I have an 08 CX-9 AWD that I've had for just a few weeks. Yesterday and today, we had snow and ice in the DC area, and the 20" tires did just fine- so far.
  • seaweed20seaweed20 Member Posts: 28
    I had the same concern and was planning on asking the dealer for a switch to 18" when I buy a GT. However, 'ceric' replied to my post on another forum that has changed my mind (after reading reviews) and I will be keeping my 20" and getting the below.

    Yoko Parada Spec-X
    (Check for reviews).

    They sound too good to be true. I live in Northern Jersey so snow capability is a must for me.

    Thanks ceric
  • cericceric Member Posts: 1,092
    Glad to be of any help, seaweed20.

    OE tires (Bridgestone Dueller H/L) are not cheap tires. It listed $200 on (while Yoko Parada Spec-X is ONLY $160). So, MAZDA was not trying to be cheap here. It is just that they chose summer performance over snow.
    The OE tires work well on dry and wet pavements.

    Also, make sure you choose a CX9 that is manufactured as late as possible (see the stickers on the base of B-pillar) so that those TSBs (see another thread) don't apply to your new CX9.
  • seaweed20seaweed20 Member Posts: 28
    One question, ceric, is that would I be deteriorating the tire at an increased pace if I keep them on 24/7? Or would the recommendation be to only use the Yokos during winter?

    I could not find any specific comment on this.
  • cericceric Member Posts: 1,092
    The OE tires are more summer-oriented all-season tires.
    The Yoko Parada Spec-X are more truely all-season tires.
    Both are all-season ones.
    Unlike snow-tires, they don't wear very quickly in summer.
    Yoko Spec-X has wear index of 460 while OE one has only 260. That means, by federal testing, the Yoko lasts almost 2X longer! :)
  • seaweed20seaweed20 Member Posts: 28
    Thanks for your response. This really helps.
  • not_2_shabbynot_2_shabby Member Posts: 29
    Anybody know if RX-8 wheels can handle the weight of a CX-9? I'm looking for a set of OEM 18" rims to put snow tires on. It appears they are the same offset and bolt pattern, but the CX-9 is about 1500 pounds heavier.
  • frustrated9erfrustrated9er Member Posts: 1
    Bought my 9 about 4 months ago---GT AWD. When I buy a new vehicle I typically buy a 5th matching spare alloy and tire to replace the temp donut from the factory. This allows me to do a five way rotation to make the whole set last longer, and gives me the option of continuing on a trip if one tire goes instead of being forced to stop and repair the tire nearly immediately, since the donuts are only rated for about 50 miles or so. So :( today, after getting my matching 20 inch rim and waiting several weeks for the special order matching tire to arrive from Japan, I go to exchange it for the donut, only to find that the device that dangles from the cable under the rear and goes through the center hole of the wheel is bigger than the hole in my alloy wheel (fits the steel wheel fine since its hole is bigger). Anybody got any solutions?
  • howardruhowardru Member Posts: 155

    Now that's an expensive mistake! About $1000+ maybe?

    Is there someway you can use a steel chain attached to the down cable with weatherproof locks (to protect from road debris)? Maybe you can thread it through the new rim and attach with a steel bar that can fit through the opening and be locked in place with u bolt or other.
  • not_2_shabbynot_2_shabby Member Posts: 29
    That's crazy, but not surprising given all the other retarded things about the CX-9!

    So where do they expect you to put the 20" wheel with the flat if you get one on the side of the road and you got the back full of other stuff? ie. on a road trip with the family and the car is already stuffed to the gills.
Sign In or Register to comment.