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Advice re: all-season vs. winter tires for a Mazda 2 hatchback

I bought a 2013 Mazda2 Touring hatchback with 60K miles and Yokohoma Avid Ascend all-season tires on the front wheels. The rear driver side had Yokohama Avid S34, and rear passenger had a Goodyear Integrity. Despite three brands of tires, they all seemed in good condition.

I brought her in for an OLF & tire rotation on 12/30/15 and afterwards heard a “thudding” noise from the front driver’s side, which my mechanic attributed to a small portion of the tire now on the front driver’ side being almost “smooth” (almost no tread left).

I’m considering winter tires, but I’ve heard some all-season tires are better for snow/ice/cold than others. I live in Boston (coastal) and work in a northern inland suburb. Sometimes I leave for work in rain or mixed precipitation but encounter freezing precip. on my way up. Most of my driving is on the interstate and I’ve had no spinouts driving a 2002 Saturn SL2 w/ all-season tires the past eight years. I’ve heard some folks say Mazda 2 hatchbacks don’t do well in snow, but I have yet to test her out in these conditions.

I am looking for advice on:

  1. What brands of all-season tires might perform reasonably well on a Mazda 2 in winter conditions?
  2. Is it worth the investment to buy winter tires? If so, what brand do you recommend? I live in an apartment so would have to pay to have my winter tires stored from April-November.

Any advice would be much appreciated, as I should buy new tires this week if at all possible. Thank you all so much!

You need to first address the question, “Is it worth the investment to buy winter tires?” You live in an apartment in a big city; you drive mostly interstate to get to work; sounds like you’ve had minimal issues driving in a different car. None of that tells me that winter tires are essential. Unless it is critical that you have to drive in bad weather, I’d forego the winter tires. I think they would be more trouble than what you would get out of them.

You were told WRONG that all season tires are better than winter tires. However, if the winters are short and you don’t go out to the ski hills and you don’t have a long driveway, a good MATCHED set of all season tires may me the best bet.

Most of the posters here have winter snow and highway driving to contend with, and in my case skiing and snow shoeing as well.

Winter tires are far superior in snow than all season tires.

A winter tire has a tread design where the lugs are spaced such that it grips better in snow. A winter tire has rubber compound that is softer than an all season tire. At temperatures below 45 degrees, an all season tire rubber compound begins to get hard. The tire then loses traction. This doesn’t happen with a winter tire. This is why winter tires provide better traction on snow, sleet, and ice at temperatures below freezing.

Where I live I have to have winter tires. This is because we can get a lot of snow at anytime. And you don’t know when the plows are going to clear the roads to the freeways, as they’re plowed first because they’re snow emergency routes.

So you’re the one has to determine the benefits of a winter tires over all season tires.


Check the tirerack site and the November Consumer Reports for extensive info on tires.

My advice: buy a set of good all-seasons, maybe ones that rate pretty well for snow and ice traction compared to the rest. If after some winter driving you are not totally happy with them, and you like the car well enough to keep it for a few more years, buy some high-rated winter tires on steel rims. Every spring and fall have them switched.

“I’m considering winter tires, but I’ve heard some all-season tires are better for snow/ice/cold than others.”

@Docnick - I think the OP is saying some brands of all-seasons are better than other all-seasons, which is true. If I was the OP, I’d go with all-seasons, and I’d pay to subscribe to the Consumer Reports web site, where I’d look for high-rated all season tires that have high ratings for ice/snow use.

The OP states they had good results for the last 8 years, Why not see if they can get the same tires for the Mazda 2.

As for ( I’ve heard the Mazda 2 is not good in snow ) that most likely comes from the factory tires and not the car itself.

I’ve been driving all year around on all season tires in NH without problems for many, many years. But they must have at least 60% of their tread left (typically about 6/32"; a tread depth gage only costs about two bucks at any part store), and I’ve been driving in this environment my whole life. Technique and leaving lots of room in front of you are critical.

One question that hasn’t been answered: have you had the cause of that improperly worn tire diagnosed and corrected? If not, you need to do that ASAP. Things that cause erratic tire wear are also usually having a huge adverse effect on your traction. A tire that’s bouncing around or not rolling freely won’t provide the traction and control you need.

Deciding on snow tires is no different than deciding on insurance. Everyone has a different tolerance for risk.

For example, you commute to a northern inland suburb of Boston. Odds are that good aggressive All-Season tires will work fine for you. But if you want the security of knowing you won’t get stuck should a major storm hit while you’re leaving work, then good winter tires are the “insurance” you may want.

Yokohama all season tires are great in most conditions except winter!

One choice that cover both bases is nokian wr g2 or G3. A winter biased all season tire. Otherwise research what you buy on tire rack. I recently got tires called Pirelli p7 all season rated well in winter. Guess what they are quite capable!

Choices are likely narrow for tiny wheels on a Mazda 2.

Boston doesn’t get enough snow to justify winter tires. Yes last year was very unusual…and it really was only just one month. But for the most part…all-Season are more then adequate. Are winter tires BETTER in snow…yup…no question…however you can count on one hand the number of days you’ll be driving on snow/ice covered roads in Boston.

Nokian is a brand of tires from northern Europe that makes great winter tires. Nokian also makes an all season tire that is very good in snow and ice. Someone in the Boston area sells Nokian tires.

In pure winter tires I like Michelin X-ice tires. They are smooth running, quiet, and have low rolling resistance so they get better mpg than many all season tires. I run Michelin X-ice year round on one of my low miles per year cars.

Also driving in Boston and NH, I agree with Mike. I’ve always gotten by with all-season tires and FWD, although lately I’ve been driving AWD. Get your 4 tires replaced ASAP and monitor tread depth. Don’t let them drop below about 1/4 inch.

@MikeInNH except last year when the entire winter was awful but atypical.

Actually last year we didn’t get much if any snow until late January. Then we averaged 2 storms a week for at least 3 weeks.

I used to live on the north shore area and the conditions vary greatly. If all you do is travel main roads to get to 95 or 93, then you’ll be fine with all seasons. I had to drive inland and use many tree lined and covered roads. No pucker factor like ice covered roads barely wide enough for two cars side by side and lined with 150’+ oaks with NO shoulder. I also had one road with a leaning curve that almost forced you off the road into some giant pine trees. Always ice covered as the melting water ran across the road all day and froze into a glacier in the afternoon/evening. I bought winter tires and the difference was astounding. I now live in the seacoast NH area and don’t even mount the winter tires anymore. Only 25 mile difference in location and mostly more heavily traveled roads…

I lived in New England and ended up owning two winter tires, mounted on plain steel rims that fit the car, and four all season tires mounted on the rims the car came with. In the winter the winter tires were on the front drive wheels and the all seasons were on the back; in the rest of the year it was all season all around. Having them all on rims made it possible for me to swap on the tires in my yard. In the long run it does not cost more because all your tires last longer. The only extra cost is the two steel rims you buy, maybe used at a recycling yard.

Soooooo any word on the cause of that poorly worn tire?

@wentwest - Two winter tires on the front creates the most dangerous condition most drivers can face, a “loose” car that wants to swap ends. Winter tires should be purchased in sets of four and, if you must buy two, put them in the back to keep the front of your car facing forward.

One misconception is that winter tires are only better in snow and ice. If you watch some of the test videos on the internet you will find that winter tires are superior in all conditions up to about 50 degrees as they remain softer than all season tires at temperatures of 50 degrees and lower. All season tires start to even the odds at about 50 degrees so, if you live someplace with winters that have some snow and ice and temperatures mostly below 50 degrees you will find that WINTER tires will give you greater grip and safety margins. This is why tire manufacturers stopped calling them SNOW tires.

I find the best value in winter tires is the General Altimax Arctic and the best overall tire if money is no barrier is the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. I have lived in the snow belt of New York State for over 25 years and winter tires are my religion.

@bloody_knuckles I’ve read other comments that agree with you, but it was not my experience that the car became unstable with winter tires on the front drive wheels and all season tires on the back. All I can say is that it worked for me. I taught myself how to drive with the car in a “sideways” stance a long time ago, practicing in a snow covered parking lot until I could do it with control and still go in the direction I wanted to go. I had a curvy, uphill driveway that was about 1000 feet long and going up it was a process of slipping and sliding and sideways running, just don’t ever stop on the way up.