I spent some time at lunch today giving my car a bunch of TLC. I’ve noticed this last little while that the tires are slipping a lot, so I suspected that they were pretty much toast. I had a tread test done on them yesterday, and they came back at 4/32s, 5/32s, 5/32s, and 10/32s, the last one being the tire I replaced that blew up on the way to Seattle last year. 2/32s is the legal limit, and 4/32s is where you basically stop having traction in the rain and snow. I might have been able to squeeze another 4 months or so out of these in the summer, but I just decided to bite the bullet and put something better on before the snow hits.

It’s no secret that OEM tires are terrible. The ones that shipped with my new Mazda 3 Sport, Goodyear Eagle RS-A’s, are rated fairly poorly (most people reporting they’d probably never buy that tire again). In terms of performance, they were fairly poor in the rain and absolutely horrible in the snow, and I only got 35,000 kms out of them. I nearly bought the farm a few times last winter, sliding down the hill near my place without being able to stop at all.

Unfortunately for me, the tires on my car are rather large and expensive, averaging around $200/tire. I debated putting all-seasons on them, but pretty much every car shop I talked to said that at 17 inches, most all seasons wouldn’t perform well in the rain or snow, which is actually my primary concern, especially living out in tsunami land here. So my options were to put all-season tires on again (and just put up with the crappy rain/snow performance), get a set of winter tires, most likely on 16″ rims (which would also require getting another pair of summer tires sometime next year), or to put an all-weather tire and use that year round.

The concept of an all-weather tire is fairly new, and I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard of it until I did some digging. But several companies make a tire that uses winter tread patterns and softer rubber harder rubber that ultimately has both winter and summer properties. Unlike all-season tires, all-weather tires actually have real winter ratings, and most pass the severe winter traction standard. Because they have some characteristics of an all-season, you can also run them year round. The downside is that due to the softer rubber they will wear out faster than a typical all-season tire, but the tradeoff is improved performance in rain and snow conditions.

So, that’s what I ultimately ended up doing. I just got back from replacing the tires on my Mazda 3 Sport with Nokian WR G2 all-weather tires. You can check out the write up here.

The grand total was around $1,090, which obviously isn’t cheap, but should hopefully last me another 3 or 4 years. Since my car only has a partial spare for it, I kept the previous tire with the 10/32nds tread on it for a full-sized spare.

I’m definitely looking forward to testing these bad boys in the snow.