Winter Driving - BMW and Tires



Hi. I would like to get real world feedback from those that drive rear wheel drive BMW 3 Series vehicles in snowy climates. Not the xi experience, but true rear wheel drive in New England winters. Is it reasonable to assume that if I have true WINTER tires and drive intelligently that I should be fine, or is this vehicle just not meant for the winter regardless of tire choice and driver skill / behavior? Thanks.


I have been driving RWD, manual transmission BMWs in Colorado for over 30 years. Good winter tires (NOT all-season) are the key. My current RWD 1998 328i sedan has four Blizzaks (Michelin X-Ice are good too) mounted on extra rims. I put them on when it snows and take them off in the spring. Winter tires in combination with traction control and a manual transmission are the way to go. I have never gotten stuck driving here in Denver and Boulder. Now, winter mountain driving is another story where AWD/4WD comes in handy. Keep in mind the “B” in BMW is Bavaria – they get lots of snow there too.



I have experience in similar conditions with a 2002 5-series with Blizzaks and extra weight in the back. It gets around, but not well. With a few inches of unplowed snow on a moderate hill, it struggles. It won’t make it up our fairly steep driveway unless it’s completely shoveled.

If the roads in your area are pretty flat and you can afford to wait for the plows, you’d be okay, but otherwise I’d recommend the xDrive.


Yes, a RWD 3-Series is the only BMW sedan I would drive in the winter as the weight distribution is pretty good. My 535 was a struggle and a 7 Series is downright scary on snow.



It would seem that ‘New England winters’ and xDrive were meant for each other…


From 1905 until 1975, rear-wheel drive sleds is what EVERYBODY drove, on really crappy tires.

My Bride had a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda V8 (this is in western Connecticut). I put a set of Michelin X tires on it, (big bucks back then) they only had one tread pattern, it was called “Stop”…probably the first all-season radial…She drove the car like a wild woman on icy, hilly back roads, she called them “miracle tires”…

If I had a late-model BeeMer I would avoid winter driving as much as possible simply to avoid the damage caused by road salt…For those really bad days, I would have an $800 FWD beater to drive to work…


Been working on and driving the different models of the 3 series in the snow conditions experienced in both Wisconsion and in Switzerland since 1983. The E-36 and E-46 are my two most favorite cars of all time, but they are the poorest performing cars I have ever experienced in regards to snow driving.

We have had (and I myself have) customers experement with different brands of snow tires (an absoluest must) tubes of sand in the trunk, and actually modifying the aspects of the limited slip rear differentials, all efforts combined do not produce what I consider a “good” snow car. But like I, said they are my favorite BMW’s


You will be fine with decent snow tires.


Rear wheel drives can be acceptable in snow. Assume it has traction control. Assume it has good snow tires. And, though it isn’t a truck, and there’s no need to carry excessive weight in this well balanced car, on really bad days, I’d throw a couple bags of tube sand (70 lbs each in the trunk, in front or even with the wheels. A friend with awd BMW 3 series, still has a problems in snow that is too deep. I assume yours might not have any better clearance. That would be one concern. The other is wide performance tires that even with snows, can float in heavy wet snow; ie, more weight.
Acceptable only is the key word, not because it’s RWD, but because it’s a performance car first, not a snow bunny.