Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Mazda 6 in the snow

2 months ago I bought a 2006 Mazda 6-- then it snowed! I have NO traction with this car. I drive from Illinois to Wisconsin, and I need to be assured that I can travel even if it is snowing. What is the best solution? I currently have 17" rims and low profile tires that came with my car that are new.

Those 17" low profiles are the problem. They are most likely not ‘all season’ or ‘mud and snow’ rated. You’ll have to replace the tires, or get a separate set of snow tires, preferably on 15" rims. You’ll have better choices with 15" rims.

When it comes to real estate, the old saying is “location, location, location”.
When it comes to traction–especially in slippery conditions–the appropriate saying would be “tires, tires, tires”.

Please don’t be deceived by the meaningless words, “All Season”. While some so-called all-season tires are acceptable in winter conditions, others are essentially useless. That is because there is no standard whatsoever for what constitutes an all-season tire.

So, either your car is equipped with “performance” tires (which is very likely with 17" rims and low-profile construction), or it is equipped with really crappy all-season tires (the Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 and 92-A come to mind in the crappy category).

Keep the current tires, consider them to be your “Three-Season” tires, and buy a set of 4 winter tires mounted on their own rims. The improvement in starting traction, cornering safety–and most important, stopping distance–is nothing short of incredible with a set of good winter tires. I recommend the Michelin X-Ice tire, but there are others on the market that are almost as good.

Assume that you will be spending around $600-700 for a set of good winter tires and rims. Costly? Not really, when compared to the costs of a collision.

If you want to see the galaxy of winter tires that exist for your car, go to
Even if you don’t buy from them, the information on their site is an incredible reference source.

Addendum: “Snow tires” is now considered to be an archaic term, and has been replaced by “Winter Tires”. That is because a good modern winter tire is effective on ice, as well as on snow. The “old technology” snow tires were as useless on ice as any conventional tire.

Just one word of caution:
Don’t become over-confident with a set of winter tires. You still need to slow down, but at least you will have increased your margin of safety to an incredible extent if you drive carefully with a set of 4 winter tires.

Agree; a good set of winter tires, such as Michelin X-ICE or equivalent and a new set of steel rims will set you back about $700+ or so. It will make you think you’re drivng a different car! Get rid of those tires and rims and put them back on next April.

Good luck!

I think another problem is the lack of clearance…in snow country I rarely see a mazda

Go to and check out winter packages (tire/rims) for your car.

Alternatively the Nokian WR or WR G2’s are all-season tires rated as winter tires. I have them and love them.

If I get a new set of winter tires, and smaller rims, does my 2006, mazda 6 have the valve stem speed sensor? If it does, can I run with out the sensor?

I’ve been unable to find chains that will fit my 2004 with 17" rims because of the clearance. Here in CA we’re often required to to have chains in the snow – so I haven’t been able to use the car for snow trips. I’d say this is my #1 complaint about the car (# 2 is turning radius).

The issue isn’t the diameter of the wheel, but the width of the tire. Wide tires get less traction in snow. I’m sure you do have “all season”, I did on my 6, but it was horrible. I got a second set of alloy wheels, and a set of Blizzaks (plenty of good snow tires available–Nokian, Toyo,etc.). Just swap them over in the spring and early winter. My car is now great in the snow, when the engine works.