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Mazda 3 (5 door) in the snow

My 2007 Mazda 3, 5-door handles great in the rain & in dry conditions…however, each time it has snowed this year, the car looses all traction on the road, and the brakes either malfunction and don’t work, or they work very little and make a terrible grinding & sticking noise. The car is basically undriveable in as little as 1" accumulation of snow! My tires look ok (and I have only about 22,000 miles on the car) and the breaks work fine at all other times. Any ideas as to what’s going on? Thank You!

Oops, misspelled “brakes”…sorry!

This sounds like some sort of ABS issue. This vehicle should be covered under warranty. See your dealer ASAP.

Curious. The Mazda3 is a very popular car in Canada. Nobody seems to have any unusual difficulties with snow. They are most likely to complain about brake dust on the shiny wheels. Of course, prudent Canadians all use two sets of tires, one for winter and one for July.

Clearly you need to get yourself a set of winter tires. If you want to find out what brand other Mazda
owners prefer, go to the Mazda3 specialty forum over here: http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/WebX?ed_displayMakeModelRelatedDiscussions@56.5rGLccRbC5k.1@.ef14c39!make=Mazda&model=MAZDA3.

i would also be suspect of a sticking caliper, which could cause lousy handling in the snow. have you had a brake job done on this car?

do you smell a burning brake? how about a hot bearing?

Check the tires again…some all season are in name only. Some AS are decent in snow if lugs are well spaced, at the sacrifice of a little more noise. ABS will work overtime with poor tires. If they’re working in good weather, they’re fine. Good rain tires aren’t nec. good in snow. IT"S THE TIRES.

I also think it’s your tires. Most street tires do many things well but traction in snow is one area they’re usually deficient in.

Here’s another vote for the tires as the culprit. Winter tires make a major difference in both gaining traction for forward movement and in allowing you to stop the car in a short distance.

A tire manufacturer can put the “all-season” moniker on any tire, as there is really no standard for that term, and as a result, there are a lot of “all-season” tires that are essentially useless in winter road conditions. The useless one with which I am familiar is the Bridgestone Potenza RE-92, but I am sure that there are others that are equally useless in the winter.

Get a real winter tire (a symbol of a snowflake on the sidewall), and you will be a much happier and a much safer driver.

I would suspect the tyres. All season really means three season unless you live in Florida.

Modern Winter tyres are great.

That said it sounds like you also have a brake problem. After driving in snow/salt conditions it is common for rust to from on the rotors and that can cause a serious grinding noise, but it does not indicate any malfunction. If the ABS was malfunctioning (the only part of the braking system related directly to snow and ice, it should be lighting up a brake or CEL light. BTW when you are on snow or ice and hit the brakes hard, you should feel a pulse in the brake peddle of most cars.

You have a 2007 with 22,000 miles. It should be under warranty, so bring it in to the dealer. Explain exactly what concerns you and let them check it out. Don’t try and tell them what you or we think the problem is, that is there job, just tell them what you know, which is what you have directly observed. Let them figure out what that means. They won’t pay any attention to what you think it means anyway.

Its sounds like your tires are worn past the point where they have winter traction left. The brakes are simply engaging ABS since they have no traction and want to lock. I had a really poor set of “all-season” tires(RE92s) on a Subaru and found the exact same thing in winter happens. It could get moving straight but had a hard time turning and braking was exactly as you describe. The tires were only about half worn at 20k. Replacement was the answer.

Needless to say you have a few choices in tires. The absolute optimal choice would be to run winter tires for that season. Check tirerack.com and downsize from your 17"'s if possible for better prices and traction.

Your next choice is to research tires and find all-seasons that work really well in the snow. I will mention a few in your likely size(low profile) that work well. Goodyear F1 All-season>> http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=102

Continental Extreme Contacts also work quite well in the snow/ice and all-season too. I personally use a Nokian WR (G2) which is the only all-season rated as a winter tire too(has Snowflake on sidewall). Not quite as effective in the most extreme conditions as a true winter tire but perfect for New England and no switchover. Only downfall on Nokians is premium pricing(Michelin like) and limited shops to find them.

People will mention my all-seasons are fine on this board however you have performance oriented wide size tires and they simply loose some effectiveness in winter conditions. I did lots of reasearch prior and know these sizes and types well. Good luck :slight_smile:

Perhaps your expectations of automobiles ability to function in snow are too high. Snow is very slippery stuff and driving in it can be dangerous. You should drive much slower and with much larger spacing to other vehicles.

Re your brakes, you may be seeing the ABS functioning. ABS detects a wheel slipping due to braking on a slippery surface, and causes the brake to cycle on-off very rapidly to maintain braking. That causes a pulsation you can feel in the pedal, and a dull roaring noise. Is that what you experience? that is normal and helps the braking on icy surfaces.

You need to evaluate “brakes don’t work” immediately. Get someone else to try the car or get it to a mechanic. If this is the ABS functioning as described above, then it is normal, and the brakes are working as well as they can and you should drive slower. If not, get it fixed immediately!

Re the tires, again your expectations may be too high, or the tires are not very good.

I think the ABS is working but you may not be familiar with the system and you also need winter tires, NOT all-season in snow. There’s a BIG difference.

Make mine still another vote for the tires. And for the experience you’re having being the ABS kicking in.

Been there, done that. And better tires make a huge difference.

I do want to add that all activities (turns, stops, acceleration, cruising speed) must be done much more slowly and with more advanced planning than on dry or wet pavement. If you try to drive the same on snow and/or ice as you do on dry, nothing will help.

I too have a Mazda 3 5-door that I enjoy immensely. Am I correct in assuming that your driving on your alloy wheels in the winter on those stock all seasons (Goodyear Eagles when I got mine)? If so, two problems:

1) Snow likes to accumulate inside the wheel wells and especially in our Mazda’s alloy wheels. You should always clean them out before you drive. I have two snow/ice scrapper brushes in my car. I use one for cleaning of the snow on my roof and windows and the other I use to clean off the nasty slushy stuff in the wheels and wheel wells.

2) Snow tires make all the difference. The folks before me talking them up are not exaggerating. Real snow tires have serious treads and completely transform your car in the snow (especially when compared to the crappy stock all seasons our cars came with). Do some quick online browsing and you can find a good deal on a set of snow tires, You may find, however, that shopping around for winter tires that fit our stock rims can limit your choices. If you can afford it I suggest get a dedicated set of winter rims for your winter tires and you’ll be able to save a $100+ every year by switching out your own tires!

In case you were wondering, I run a set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta RSI’s in the winter, most people have never heard of Nokian but they make (IMHO) the best winter tires in the world. I live in Massachusetts and drove to Nova Scotia, Canada (~12 hr drive) last X’mas season after the mother of all snow storms. The highways were barely plowed and SUV’s and 18-wheelers had to slow down to a crawl because of the snow on the ground. Not the case for me, my dog and my Mazda 3. We made great time passing those poor folks. Same deal on the way back, except this time there was ice on the ground. I highly recommend snow tires, and if you can find 'em, Nokian tires.

Drive safe!

My son has a Mazda 3 and installed Khumo? winter tires, which apparently are a hit with winter rally drivers. It has fantasitic traction in snow and on wet and icy surfaces. In the summer he also has Khumo tires. Mazda 3 brakes are somewhat finicky, and my son has had them adjusted twice in 50,000 miles. Otherwise the car is perfect.

If the OP is still monitoring this thread, he should be aware that the correct term nowadays is winter tires, not snow tires.

Modern technology winter tires are fairly effective on ice, as well as snow. The old-style snow tires were no more effective on ice than any other type of tire. As has been said, get a set of winter tires, which you can identify by the “snowflake” icon on the sidewall.

That horrible braking feel and sound is the ABS working overtime because of the poor traction of the tires.

That loss of traction is because of the poor traction of the tires.

You need new tires. Good winter tires, or at least good (or better) all-season tires.

I call them snow tires all the time too…
Old habits die hard.

Yeah, I know there’s a difference. It’s mainly in the siping. Lots of good edges do wonders on ice.

Two important questions to the OP. Have you driven other cars in the snow or is this your first experience? Have you driven other cars with traction control and antilock brakes in the snow.

I’ll throw my vote in for the Exalto A/S by Michelin. I’ve had these for a few months now and I really love them
http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Michelin&tireModel=Pilot+Exalto+A%2FS&partnum=05VR7EXAS&vehicleSearch=true&fromCompare1=yes&place=21&speed_rating=H&speed_rating=V&speed_rating=Z&speed_rating=W&speed_rating=Y&speed_rating=(Y)&minSpeedRating=H