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Low profile tires

I need some advice please. My 2010 Mazda 3 hatchback (sport model) has these horrible low profile tires. The car has 46000 miles and I have already replaced 4 tires and 2 rims. I am not a crazy driver but I live in New England. Even the dealership agrees that these tires are meant to be driven on good roads. Where are the good roads? Now, I want to trade in my car but I can’t face buying into the same problem. I do love my Mazda by the way. What am I to do?

I would suggest that you take a look at the Tire Rack website, in order to see what “alternate size” tires they list for your car. If their website doesn’t list tires that are substantially higher in profile than the ones on your car, then I would suggest phoning Tire Rack at the toll-free number shown on the website.

I have found their phone staff to be incredibly knowledgeable, and it is very possible that they may offer some good advice regarding a different, higher-profile tire size. Just be aware that this may entail buying different wheels. However, even with buying a new set of steel wheels, you may still wind up paying less in the long run than you will if you keep using those ridiculously low-profile tires that are merely a very expensive fashion statement.

@VDCdriver I agree; Mazda3s accommodate a wide range of tire sizes. I would simply buy a new set of standard rims and tires and live happily ever after.

Since you don’t rally or race the car, the normal size will be both more comfortable and last longer.

If you can bear the thought of steel rims and hubcaps, it will be much cheaper. Both my cars have low profile tires with alloys. For winter tires which I run into April with all the potholes, I use higher profile tires with smaller rims. So far, so good. Unfortunately, compacts give you fewer options but just an inch, two is better. Smaller rim size makes a world of difference with a higher sidewall for impact resistance.
I wish that car manufacturers supported dealer no cost options of going to smaller rims in areas like New England. Instead, they force everyone to accept these tires and rim combinations. I have turned away from cars in the past for that reason. It would be a good selling point for companies that do it.

If you order new rims and tires from TireRack, you can get the tires already mounted and balanced on the rims before they ship out to you.
You can also have them shipped to a “preferred dealer/installer” and they will call you when they come in and mount the new setup on your car. I did this with my Civic several years ago and the shop they were sent to(NTB) didn’t even charge me anything to put the rims on because everything was already ready for them.

I agree with the others about a different set of wheels and tires, but with the idea that I would just replace your wheels altogether. Who’s going to drive around a car like yours with plain steel wheels? Ruins the look of the car.

Visit your local tire/wheel shop and see what they have for replacement wheels and tires that would fit on your car. They should have a variety of options that look good on your car, and may buy your factory wheels and tires as part of the deal.

Remember, even if you do buy a tire/wheel package online you’ll have to buy new pressure sensors for each wheel and take the car in for TPMS programming.

What size are your current tires?

valentine street, let’s hope that vehicle mfrs. who likely went to low profile tires in response to consumer demand will see the light as some consumers are doing now and will return to higher profile tires. So far we have bent a steel rim in a pothole and slightly marked an alloy rim in a pothole. This had never happened to us before with higher profile tires. Low profile tires are a styling (eyewash) exercise that does not work well in potholes.

Another thing you might want to do, and this could be fun and informative. Try to educate your self as to the different aspects in measuring rims. Like, what does 5 bolt by 4.5 inch radius and what is a positive offset. I know it sounds like a pain, but you would be surprised how much you can cross reference rims. If some one tells you that you must have rims specially made for a Mazda3 for a gazillion dollars, go somewhere else. Most manufacturers use similar wheel sizes and bolt patterns throughout their car line. Some different manufactures even use the same size…like Ford and Toyota 5 bolt. You can save lots of money
by not being taken advantage of as rims and tires are a huge after market rip off if you aren’t aware.

I have nothing against Tire Rack but like others they are out to make a profit and an informed shopper can do better piecemeal. Tire Rack is an excellent source of information which I use all the time. But, I always end up getting rims and tires cheaper elsewhere. If you are unwilling to do the research, of course, Tire Rack is a safe place to go.

Another thing about time pressure sensors. THEY ARE AN OPTION in many states for owners to install in after market rims. . If they are not part of state inspection, you need not pay $59 to $159(dealer) per tire to put them in if you have your own gauge. Don’t buy from anyone who insists they need be there if they don’t. You can’t trust them on anything.
@acemaster, I respectfully disagree that this is a “have to buy”. It may be an option, and it’s good to know ahead of time.

@dagosa, the poster is going to have to have some sensors put in any replacement wheels s/he buys, right? I suppose the other option would be to remove the sensors from the wheels on the car and install them on the new wheels, if wheel replacement is the choice.

If he doesn’t then he’ll be driving around his nice late model car with an annoying warning light on the dash. Unacceptable. I consider that a hack job for a late model car like this where parts are readily available and inexpensive. I try to keep the cars functioning as originally designed.

I did the math and for just under $950, you can get a set of alloy wheels and tires in 16" (205/55R16) . To help reduce the cost of the changeover, you can sell the 17" on eBay.

I’ll bet you can get this done cheaper than that if you do used wheels from a junkya… er … auto recycling center. I’ll bet earlier model years will fit.

Without knowing OP’s obligations, the choice to drive around with the light on to save the money MAY still their choice. And as you say, paying Tire Rack to put them in new becomes a strike against using them as well if they choose to use the old ones. My only point was, it may be a choice. . We don’t know the state or OP’s " light sensitivity" so to speak. Doesn’t bother me one bit that my 2004 or My new 2013 will run with the light on with winter rims 5 months out of the year too. Heck, a similar size amber light goes on when a passenger sits in the passenger seat indicating the air bag is activated. Minor stuff we all live with.

Again , saying " the poster is going to have to put some sensors in any replacement wheels s/he buys ? " MAY still not be correct. “unacceptable” is your opinion, not OP’s . If they live in a state that require it, of course, if they DONOT, unacceptable, becomes their choice, not yours… They must pay all that extra money is an exact reason I chose not to buy tires at TOWNFair tires when shopping their last last month. They said I had to have sensors installed. Wrong in my state ! Buying locally, doing diligent research then MOVING the old ones into the new rims is the most viable option regardless. But even that is still an option depending upon the state they reside.

I like your alternatives. Knowing the specs on the rims is critical to saving money. That was my point as well. Cross referencing rims from other makes or models is easy and could save money and agravation whether buying new or looking through a salvage yard. Just running around and asking for Mazda3 rims is not something that any of us would do but OP may not be as aware ; assuming by the post in general.

The mazda3 has a five bolt, 4.5 inch radius bolt pattern. It is the same as many Toyota 5 bolt and many Fords I know of. Just knowing the offset as well for clearance and that MAY open the doors to finding lots of less expensive options then just saying "Mazda rims. "

i just bought 4 blizzaks/steel wheels yesterday for $80. good deal in mn winter. usually i only get cheap prices in off season.

Don’t get me wrong, personally I don’t like TPMS. I think it’s one more relatively unneeded device on a car that is already packed with safety and warning devices that people ignore and neglect. But the fact remains that it is a system on your car and as such needs proper maintenance and repair. TPMS is mandated on all cars sold here after 2007 model year.

Your car is also required to have a catalyst. If you live in a state that does not have emissions testing you are free to not repair it if it fails. Your car is required to have seat belts. If you live in a state without a seat belt law you are free to not use them or not repair them if they fail. Your car is required to have TPMS…

OK, the jury is still out on whether disabling TPMS is a federal offense, but with million-dollar verdicts being levied against stores that repaired a tire that blew out 100 miles later, I think I’ll err on the side of caution. When I do install wheels without sensors on a TPMS equipped car, the invoice states “TPMS non-functioning per customer request.” This has nothing to do with mechanics but rather with litigious people.

I’d guess as many people would would not want to drive around with a warning light on as would do without TPMS.

My job is to keep your car safe, reliable, and operating as designed. And that includes maintaining your TPMS. But if you want to not have TPMS, that’s your choice.

No one has mentioned tire pressure. While TPMs have lessened the problem, low tire pressure is a big contributor to dented rims.
In pot hole season I keep my tire pressure slightly higher than at other times, just for a bit of added cushion.

Since you say you’re car shopping…
You have discovered another one of the maker’s options that most people never think of untill, like you, it’s too late.
For example ;
I see that Mazda having tire/rim options of 205/50r17 or 205/55r16 . The 16s being the taller tire with the same outer diameter.

Do some homework prior to buying to see the factory tire/rim size options.

Plus you can use this info to buy a whole set of 16s for your car as others have suggested.

I agree with everything you say…except. The TPMS system cannot be equated with other mandated safety systems that require inspection in states that include it in their mandates. Please, there are no threats of violating any federal offenses. “the jury is out” is a scare tactic and has nothing to do with the discussion. It is a state prerogative.

Telling OP that they “have to have the sensors replaced” is not what every state says. All inspectors I have talked to where it isn’t mandated say it is optional. It is optional and they say nothing more. The invoice you read is absolutley right and that is what the customer should be told. It’s that simple IMHO.

Until we have a system that actually adjusts the air pressure as they drive, it likely won’t be and the Feds get it. It is there for those who don’t or won’t use a tire gauge. I respect your job safety recognition and the implication that goes with it. We must also respect the notion of full disclosure.

@kengreen makes a good point. If you manage to find rims and swap them out for higher profile, remember to keep the tire width the same. The sidewall depth should be greater and that only happens if you increase the aspect ratio while leaving the width the same or (I like greater). Of course, I would put four big pillows under the car. Research “powerdog” and the like for maintaining tire circumference .

This post is very reminiscent of the lady two years ago who bought a Honda Fit SPORT, which had those tires and a very rough ride. She regretted her purchase, since the Sport also has stiffier springs, and changing tires would not get her a better ride.

We always advise any prospective buye to drive the car first, preferably renting that model for the weekend to get a good feel for it.