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BMW 3-Series Tires and Wheels

sitsit Posts: 16
edited October 2014 in BMW
Need some help!
I have 325i 2006 with 24000 miles on it.I have original Bridgestone 205 55 16 RFTs.These tires have deteriorated significantly in terms of comfort and ride.They were pretty quiet during the first 10,000 miles but after that they started making unbearable noise.At 65 miles/hour it sound like you are sitting in a helicopter.
I am also struggling to get rid of these tires and replace them with regular 18 inches tires. At this time I don't care much about RFTs.
Any suggestion:
1. What wheel and tires i should go for. RFTs VS Regular what options I have?
2 Do Contiprocontact SSR runflats,come in 18 inches.
3. Will there be any significant effect in handling if I go two numbers higher. (I mean from 16 inches to 18 inches).



  • mace242mace242 Posts: 12
    I've noticed a similar sound with my 06 325xi. It isn't really loud but it is like a helicopter type sound. I'm assuming the noise will only get worse. You believe the problem is the tires? I have about 11,500 miles and I wouldn't say my tire treads look really worn or anything, but I too am wondering about scraping the run flats and just getting regular tires. Is this what a lot of people have chosen to do? And if so has it worked out?
  • sitsit Posts: 16
    I have been reading posts for about 9 months and I believe that Shipo will have some kind of solution. I am pretty "low tech" and some times i have hard time figuring out his explanations. Since out cars have turned into helicopters my be we get his openion.
    I referred to his Msg # 5830. I got gist of it but couldn't figure out last part of it, where he talks about adhesion. I am coping and pasting his message as below.

    "Hmmm, I've been hearing more and more reports of tire and wheel damage to late model cars with 18" and larger wheels. Personally I don't find that at all surprising. When I got my 2002 530i SP it came with 235/45 R17 tires and any number of folks I knew informed me that I was being dumb/stupid/cheap/too conservative with my car because I didn't immediately run out and buy a set of 18s or even 19s for it. In fact, I went the other way and bought a set of 16s for its winter shoes.

    Speaking strictly for myself, if I was to opt for a new 330i SP, I would almost immediately shop around for a set of 17" wheels for it and mount the same size Gets Flat rubber that I had on the 530i.

    Consider the following overall wheel diameters, sidewall heights and tread width:

    Tire Spec ------ Dia. ---- Side --- Width --- Car/Axle
    225/45 R17 -- 25.00" -- 3.99" -- 08.86" -- 2006 330i non-SP/Both
    225/40 R18 -- 25.09" -- 3.54" -- 08.86" -- 2006 330i SP/Front
    255/35 R18 -- 25.03" -- 3.51" -- 10.04" -- 2006 330i SP/Rear
    235/45 R17 -- 25.33" -- 4.16" -- 09.25" -- 2002 530i SP/Both

    True, tires in the size from my old 5er would be 1.2% larger in diameter (meaning that you'd be going 1.2% faster at any given RPM) but that's still within the built in BMW Speedometer error.

    With this type of a change, the absolute limit of adhesion would of course suffer a tad on the rear end of the car and be enhance a tad on the front end, thus allowing the driver to hang the tail out easier (induced oversteer), which isn't a bad thing in my mind, especially considering said limits would still be WAY WAY beyond what can legally be done on the surface streets. A change like this would also greatly enhance tire life as you would have an extra six tenths of an inch of sidewall to absorb a hit, and you'd be able to rotate the tires front to back.

    Food for thought. Best Regards, Shipo "

    I guess if we go with opion # 4 we should be fine. My only concern is would it make difference 325 VS 330.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, a little deja-vu reading that post. ;-)

    Thinking back on it, my 530i SP did in fact get to the point where the tires were generating the annoying helicopter sounds, and I did solve it. How? I simply rotated my tires. That however is not a luxury available to any E90 SP owner with stock rubber because the SP on that model uses wider tires in the rear than in the front.

    So, back to my old post, if one was to have actually followed my suggestion, not only would they have a very capable set of wheels and tires for sporty driving, they would also benefit from two other features of the 17" set; 1) an extra 6/10ths of an inch of sidewall height with which to absorb shock, and 2) the ability to rotate the tires when they start getting noisy.

    FWIW #1, the "Helicopter" sounds are from a very small amount of a particular type of wear called "Cupping", which is a wear pattern that exhibits repetitive "Cups" or slightly more worn areas at even intervals around the edge of a tire. Given that BMW uses an independent rear suspension, and given that it is tuned for performance, this type of wear pattern isn't at all unexpected. Given that tire wear is very different front versus rear, a simple rotation will effectively put fresh rubber in the areas of greatest wear.

    FWIW #2, my comments regarding "adhesion" were to acknowledge that if one was to track an E90 330 SP with its factory rubber, and then swap the 18" set out for a set of 235/45 R17 set at all four corners, the lateral grip at the front of the car will improve a little, while the lateral grip at the rear will suffer a little. Given the assumption that BMW has the tires staggered (on the SP cars) such that the car has fairly balanced front/rear adhesion, then by changing to my recommendation, the back end of the car will be able to be broken loose easier. Said another way, an experienced driver should have an easier time of inducing over steer wherever and whenever he/she desires.

    Best Regards,
  • sitsit Posts: 16
    Thanks Shipo, this is very useful information. Do you prefer a specific brand of Tyres and Wheels that go together? I was thinking of Beyern Wheels, no too sure about tires.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I'm currently on vacation (doing the Attatash, NH thing with the family) so I've been a little lax on keeping up with things.


    Some OWTs die hard don't they? Ask me how I know. :-/

    Hmmm, one tank of mid-grade won't cause any issues once the mid-grade fuel is used up. If you are running on Premium and are still having an occasional unexplained power drop in a certain RPM range, you definitely need to have it looked at.

    Keep us posted. ;-)


    Do you prefer a specific brand of Tyres and Wheels that go together? I was thinking of Beyern Wheels, no too sure about tires.

    This may be sacrilege to admit, but no, I don't have any favorites. :blush:

    As far as wheels are concerned, I would absolutely make sure that they match the same specifications (i.e. offset and brake clearance) as the stock 17" wheels on the non-SP 330i (or any version of the 330xi), and make sure that they are no heavier.

    Regarding the tires, that pretty much depends upon what you are going to be doing with the tires. If I was buying summer rubber for a BMW, I'd probably buy the following tires under the following conditions:

    Kuhmo ECSTA ASX: For an SP car that is driven lots of miles annually
    Michelin Pilot Sport PS2: For an SP car that is driven no more than 10,000-12,000 summer season miles per year and maybe even sees a little track time.
    Kumho ECSTA MX: For a car that is tracked regularly.
    Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position: For a car that is tracked regularly AND the owner is good enough to be near the top of the class.

    I'm sure that MANY folks have reasons to both agree with those recommendations and/or shoot them down. Why? Said recommendation is my opinion and what I would do for my own car. Said another way, my advice and $5.00 will get you a Double Latte at Starbucks. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    Apparently it was removed from Michelin's offerings, somewhat quietly. This stirred up a few M5 owners who needed replacement due to puncture. Some places still has left-over stocks, but Tirerack will not list it as an option with new search.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Really? That's odd. I just looked up the tires that TireRack has available for my old 530i SP (in the size 235/45 R17), and they are showing the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s as not only "being available" but as a "Best Seller" for $189.00 per tire. That doesn't sound too much like a close out sale to me.

    Could it be that Michelin has cut back the number of sizes that they make the tire in?

    Best Regards,
  • jb_shinjb_shin Posts: 357
    My bad :P , Michelin only discontinued M5 rear tire size, 275/35-18 but strangely enough continues to provide the identical size in M0 designation designed specifically for Mercedes. However, the tire has slightly larger diameter and different thread pattern, and the larger diameter causes problem for those that are mounting the rear size on the front. Most people staying with stock sizes all around probably won't notice the difference, other than the thread pattern.

    Sorry about the incorrect info.
  • gordonwdgordonwd Posts: 337
    I'm sorry, but I could just never bring myself to put something with a name like "Kumho ECSTA" on my fine German sedan. It sounds like one of those "personal products" that they're always telling me about in spam emails. ;)
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    I'm sorry, but I could just never bring myself to put something with a name like "Kumho ECSTA" on my fine German sedan. It sounds like one of those "personal products" that they're always telling me about in spam emails.

    I'd take the Ecsta any day over a Potenza SA-01. I've had Ecstas on a few cars- BMWs included - and I'm sure I'll replace the lousy runflats on my 330i with Kumhos too.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,363
    that Kumho tires are first-rate.

    I wore out a set of Pilot Sport AS's, which were fine tires, but expensive. I have about 18K miles on my Kumhos, which were (as I recall) about half the price & am very pleased, so far.
  • I just replaced all 4 Goodyear Eagle GT+4 to the Kumho ECSTA ASX on my GS 300 this past Saturday based on reviews from TireRack. I have to agree that these tires offer an unbelievable value for the money as compared to other tires on the market @ half the price. Also the Kumho's offer a 30000 mile treadlife warranty that some well known name brands do not. I also have a set of Kumho Solus on my other car so I'm no stranger to the name.

  • mace242mace242 Posts: 12
    What would you recommend for a 325xi? I put 15-18k per year on it.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    With any of the "xi" models (and by extension any non-SP equipped "i" model as well) I'd probably stick with the factory rubber. My 1999 328i (non-SP) came with Michelin Energy MXV4 Plus tires and at least end (45,000 miles), they had an easy 15,000 miles (probably well more) of life left in them.

    Best Regards,
  • sitsit Posts: 16
    Hi Shipo, just a little follow up on tires issues. BMW dealer did replace my tires. We split 50% of the cost of tires. New set of Conti's are pretty quiet and it is amzing difference in the ride quility and comfort.

    I did order Kuhmo ECSTA ASX from discount tires direct as a separate GFTs. (tires and wheels package balanced, mounted and ready replace existing set of wheels/tires.).
    Soon after I put this new wheel/tire package I noticed that car started "wandering". It appeared that I kind of lost control over steering.
    Discount tires agreed to return wheel and recommends up grading the tires?
    For now I am driving with new set of Conti's RFTs till I get a better deal.

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,363
    This is very interesting.

    Please keep us posted.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I agree, "Very interesting" regarding the aftermarket set of wheels. I find myself wondering if the offset (or other measurement) was correct on that set. I do know that TireRack goes to great lengths to make sure that their aftermarket sets perform properly on the car they were ordered for.

    Keep us posted.

    Best Regards,
  • I have a 2003 325i, Sports Package.
    I would like to replace the original low profile tires (Bridgetone Potenzas, 225/?)with meatier tires as I can no longer tolerate the clunk from highway expansion joints.
    Any thoughts on diminished handling and the effect on speedometer calibration?
    I appreciate any input/comments.

    Best Regards,

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    What does "Meatier Tires" mean?

    If you want more sidewall, you can "Minus One" in size and drop down to the 16" wheel and 205 section width tire combo that is used by the non-SP cars. Changing to those tires will do the following things to your car:
    - Reduce road noise, harshness and vibration
    - Reduce steering response (i.e. the car will react more slowly to steering inputs)
    - Reduce road holding at the limit
    - Not affect your speedometer calibration at all
    - Allow you to buy less expensive and (in the case of All-Season tires) longer lasting tires
    - Reduce the value of your car (assuming that you don't keep the original wheels and tires)

    Best Regards,
  • Thanks Shipo,

    I guess keeping the 17" wheel and getting more sidewall won't fit in the wheelwell?

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 101,043
    I would suggest changing to all-season tires before minus-sizing... At least you keep the look of the sport package...

    Everything shipo mentioned above will still apply, just maybe not to the same degree.. All-season tread tends to be thicker and squishier than summer tires and that should even out your ride some... though not to the degree of switching to 16".

    It is worth a shot, and cheaper than getting new wheels..

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • rromearromea Posts: 11
    I recently got a 330i w performance pkg from a local used car dealer. The tires on the car are new but they are Fuzion ZR1 225/40/R18 88W tires front AND back.

    The front tires are probably fine, but I'm worried about the rear tires since the OEMs are 255/35/R18. Tyrerack however, says these tires can fit into max 9 in wide wheels. Is this the width of the rear wheel? So is this setup okay or should I get new rear tires?
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    225mm wide rear tires will fit just fine on your 9" wide rear wheels (yes, they are 9" wide). Many enthusiasts prefer to have all four contact patches the same to neutralize handling (wider rear tires increase rear traction, which leads to more understeer in corners). It also helps with tire rotation, which you can't do with a staggered setup.

    The Fusion Zr1 is a decent tire, so if I were you, I'd keep the 225's installed in the rear. If you don't like the way the car handles (some people find understeer reassuring and safe feeling), you can replace them with wider tires whenever you want.
  • rromearromea Posts: 11
    Thanks a bunch, fedlawman! That's what I was hoping to hear.

    Regarding tire rotation, the BMW service manual says tires are not to be rotated on the 3-series, not specifically because of the tire size difference but mainly because of the way the suspension is configured/designed, and that tire wear WILL differ between tires.

    Also I guess i can't rotate anyway because the wheels are in fact wider at the rear, plus the tires are directional/rotate in one direction only.

    The manual simply recommends doing an alignment whenever installing new tires. Someone in this forum might know better.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I don't know that anyone on the forum knows better than an manual. :)

    If you do switch to identical tires all around, you can rotate them; your car won't suddenly handle like a buick as a result. But you would have to do the rotations pretty often.
  • rromearromea Posts: 11
    ... oh, what I meant was that someone in the forum might be able to explain better why rotation is not particularly recommended.

    Okay, here is what the Bentley Service manual says (p020-26):

    "BMW does not recommend tire rotation. Due to the car's suspension design, the front tires begin to wear first at the outer shoulder and the rear tires begin to wear first at the middle of the tread or inner shoulder. Rotating the tires may adversely affect road handilng and tire grip."
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    "the front tires begin to wear first at the outer shoulder and the rear tires begin to wear first at the middle of the tread or inner shoulder."

    Well, the rear wheels tend to have more negative camber than the fronts. When cornering, the front tires do "lean" towards the outer shoulder. It sounds like this is what Bentley is talking about.

    Personally, I don't buy it. If you rotate regularly, the different wear patterns (front to rear) should balance out. In other words, after the fronts have worn a little bit outside and the rears have worn a little bit inside/middle, rotate them front to rear and all four should "even out."

    I put new Pirelli's on my M3 this summer and that's my rotation plan (I carry about 1 degree negative camber in front and 3 degrees negative camber in the rear). So far I've got 2000 miles on the tires and I still have "nubbies" on the outside shoulders at all four corners (I don't drive my street tires too hard, but you should see my RA-1's - can you say shredded?!?!).
  • rromearromea Posts: 11
    Here's what Yahoo Autos has to say about rotation:

    the short link:

    the long link:;_ylt=Ajm8.1- D2Ae2PMIZVGzNZ5IaDc78F

    I'd say you'll have to balance out the cost of rotation (your time and money) vs the cost of a slightly improved longevity, taking into account the expensive cost and relatively short lifespan of these performance tires.

    With BMW's argument, maybe a slightly worn unrotated tire will have more rubber in contact with pavement than a rotated one, so therefore it handles better, until of course it gets completely worn and needs replacement.

    Then it begs the question, why don't they just make separate designs for front and back? Is there such a tire?

    But then these are just theories, unless of course someone already did actually use 2 sets of rubber, one set rotated and the oher not, and made objective measurements of handling (lateral acceleration, slalom performance, etc.).
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    Good links rromea, thanks.

    Our BMW's tend to have high performance tires that wear quickly, and aggressive camber settings which cause uneven lateral treadwear.

    Take my car as described above as a theoretical example. Let's say after 15,000 miles, the insides of my rear tires will be completely worn at the inside tread (due to aggressive negative camber) and the fronts will be worn on the outside shoulder (mild toe-in and cornering load wear).

    Without rotating, I would have to buy 2 rear tires every 15,000 miles and 2 front tires every 15,000 miles. That's 8 tires every 30,000 miles. In this scenario, I'm throwing away tires that are only half used because the outside shoulder of the rear tires would still be usable, as would the inside tread of the front tires.

    On the other hand, if I rotate, I could swap the tires front-to-rear every 7,500 miles. That means when the rears are half worn on the inside, I move them to the front where the insides suffer minimal wear. At 15,000 miles, all four tires would be half-worn across the entire tread. At 30,000 miles I would replace all four.

    This example is over simplified, but illustrates my point. If I rotate, I use the entire tire up before throwing it away and therefore purchase fewer tires.

    Of course, this works only on cars that wear unevenly front-to-rear and laterally. If you have a FWD car, have mild alignment settings, or don't drive aggressively, your mileage may vary (pun intended).
  • rromearromea Posts: 11
    Okay. So your Pirrelis are non-directional, I assume.

    What about wheels. On your M3, the rear wheels must be wider, right? So that means you have to unmount the tires from the wheels as you rotate front/back? Won't the car shop charge extra for that?

    I would like to entertain the idea of rotating, except my tires are unidirectional (Fuzion ZR1). And these unidirectional tires just look so good...

    By the way, I like my tires. Running at 70 mph, most of what I hear is the low-pitched engine 'growl' on my E46 ZHP at about 3000 rpm. As I release the throttle, I could barely hear any road/wind noise. Its actually quiter than my 2002 Odyssey which has P225/60/R16 with about half the treadwear left.
This discussion has been closed.