Mazda 2 sucks in snow: will snow tires really help?

I drove a Civic coupe through five northern NY winters and thought it did remarkably well, esp with snow tires. It wasn’t noticeably worse than what other folks I knew were driving.

Now I’m on my second winter with a 2012 Mazda 2, manual. Last winter in NY, now in Cleveland. Even with better conditions in Cleveland, it SUCKS!!! I slide around in a mere dusting of snow. I feel unsafe driving it at all in the winter. So: will shelling out for snow tires really help enough that I won’t die in it? I’m also considering seeing if I could afford to trade it in and upgrade to something better but still small - maybe another Civic.

I’m on a very tight budget but I really need an improvement: thoughts?

Put four new top rated winter tires on it (like Michelin X-ice) and you won’t believe the difference.
It’s not the car, it’s the tires.

What kind of tires are on there now? I made the mistake of using performance tires that were not mud and snow rated (M+S) when we got hit with a snow storm. Those tires skated all over on the snow and ice. I replaced them with M+S rated tires, and found a lot better control.

I bought my daughter a Mazda 2 last Fall and it has all season tires all around. I dropped the tire pressure down a few pounds for winter driving and it drove decent through the last snowstorm here in the Pennsylvania Poconos. I believe that if I went to full winter tires I could go anywhere with it. Try two new snows up front and if that works well get two more, bet that will help a lot. What tires are you running and how much air pressure? Rocketman

If it’s anything like mine, your Civic did very much better with winter tires. My first winter with my 1999 Civic convinced me that it needed winter tires here in WI and MN. I liked the car enough to keep it, so I invested in winter tires on steel rims (from Tirerack) and I am 100% pleased with the results. I’m now on my second set. Over the long haul the only additional cost is the 4 steel rims, and whatever time or money you spend each fall and spring doing the switchover.

You are wondering if your Mazda 2 will also do very noticeably better with 4 good winter tires. It will. This is even more dramatically the case if it now has low profile wide “performance” tires. I got the narrowest winter tires that were compatible with the standard steel rims and the car’s weight. Skinny tires do better in snow; the trade-off is diminished high speed cornering traction. If you otherwise like the Mazda 2 - I read it’s a fun to drive high quality car - go for it.

The car will handle better with winter tires. Are the ones you have on now original equipment or have you replaced them? If you get winter tires, you should consider inexpensive rims for them.

So: will shelling out for snow tires really help enough that I won’t die in it? I’m also considering seeing if I could afford to trade it in and upgrade to something better but still small - maybe another Civic. I’m on a very tight budget but I really need an improvement: thoughts?

As a general , I have used them for 35 years of driving and find they give me dramatically better traction then any non snow tire ( other then truck AT) that I have ever owned. Every one I know who has used them feels the same and Utube tire demos from Tire Rack, CR, Canadian driver and a host of others demonstrate why.

More specifically @shanonia does an excellent job on the particulars for your car…
It’s all about the $$$$$$ though and how much you are willing to pay for the amount you need them…but they do work. It is a commitment as for safety, you need them on all four wheels.

I agree with all the others. Winter tires make a huge difference.

My wife’s Mazda3 with Michelin X-ICE tires walks through practically anything. She often passes AWD vehicles with standard tires going uphill or though snowdrifts.

Winter tires is about the only thing you can do.
If the car is really much more mis-ballanced than your other ( no positrac or weight ratio out of whack ) the winter tires is your only hope.
Just like the shoes in your closet. I guarantee there are some of those you would …never…choose to wear in the winter !
The tires are you car’s shoes.

On my first car, a 1947 Pontiac Streamliner, I put a pair of recapped 6.50 x 16 6 ply truck tires with a mud and snow tread. I was never stuck and could get up an icy hill when other cars couldn’t. The car was rear wheel drive. Today’s radial tires are much better than what we had in 1962 with our bias ply tires and having fwd with the engine weight over the driving wheels is an asset. Put winter tires on your Mazda and you will be pleased with the results.

The OP is obviously concerned mostly with starting traction and with traction while turning, but he should be aware that a set of 4 good winter tires (such as the top-rated Michelin X-Ice tires) will enable him to stop in a significantly shorter distance–in addition to helping him to get going and to maintain his course on turns. Stopping in…let’s say…a 30 foot shorter distance is almost always the difference between hitting something and not hitting something with your car.

It is important to remember that winter tires don’t make you omnipotent, and that you still need to drive sanely and to allow MUCH longer following distances as a result of the slippery conditions, but for a person who is willing to drive sanely, winter tires make an incredible difference.

If anyone–whether in this forum or elsewhere–tells you that you only need them on the front drive wheels, please ignore that advice as it is wrong, wrong, wrong. You need to mount your winter tires in a set of 4.

And the flip side is this - what could there be about a Mazda 2 that would make it a bad snow car? Light, fwd? That combination usually works great in snow IF good winter tires are used.

Winter tires should make a BIG difference on the + side. I have an '03 Civic manual trans. When it was new I got a set of Nokian winter tires, they were great. A couple of years ago the Nokians were too worn for another winter and I now have a set of Michelin X-Ice III’s. This is the 3rd winter on them and they are also excellent.

Texases writes

what could there be about a Mazda 2 that would make it a bad snow car?

That’s a great question. Front engine, front wheel drive usually makes for excellent snow performance. And its 1.5 L 100 HP engine is if anything underpowered, which is good for snow too. I’m wondering if it is extra lightweight or something? Does this one have the automatic transmission OP? Sometimes those are a little less forgiving in snow than a manual transmission. Maybe it has something to do, if it has the electronic stability control function, with how it is programmed. Maybe the algorithm is designed for best performance on dry/wet roads, and not for snow covered roads.

Could be, but I bet it’s the tires. My 2000 lb. GTI was GREAT in the snow.

Winter tires are always the best traction you can get in snow. If you’re having problems with traction in your Mazda, winter tires are definitely a good purchase.

I also agree that with the problems you’re describing putting them on all four wheels is the way to go. And it’s one heck of a lot cheaper than trading the car… after which you’ll probably end up getting winter tires anyway.

I suggest getting four steel wheels to mount the winter tires on. It costs a bit more up-front, but makes the seasonal swap-off much, much easier (you can do it yourself at your convenience) and prevents dismounting and remounting the tires on the rims, which exposes the beads to extra beating, exposing them to possible slow leaks due to beat-up beads.

Some vehicles just suck in snow…and winters do make a big difference. Cleveland still gets a lot of lake effect snow…lot more snow then what we get in Southern NH…I’d get good snow tires if I was you.

Remounting tires twice a year must cost something. It seems to me that the cost of those rims is at least equalled during the life of the car.

That’s my feeling too, jt.

Even shops that advertise free changeover charge for the balancing. And even though I have no data to support my belief, logic suggests to me that repeated mounting and remounting must be hard on the beads.

Besides, who wants to spend a few hours of their free time twice a year sitting in a tire store waiting for their changover?