TheMK
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:57 pm

Winter traction in an i3

Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:49 pm

Last week I put the Blizzaks on.I got to have a little experience with snow, but nothing too major. Today, however I drove 100 miles through snow and ice. I used the "TRACTION" mode (Limited DSC mode) the whole time. My thoughts:
1. Watch the under steer. With the i3 it's really easy to turn under steer into over steer and you're in trouble. I experienced that while on ice and narrowly missed the guardrail (admittedly I was going too fast). That was an important lesson though, because it taught me what was necessary to break traction in this car.
2. Regenerative breaking is limited on loose/limited traction surfaces. One thing that pleasantly surprised me is the computer limits regen so that way the back end doesn't lock up and step out of the rest of the car. Be ready for this as you might find yourself using the friction brakes more if you aren't prepared for the light amount of regen. When driving on snow and ice I give myself plenty of space between me and the car in front so that way there isn't ever a concern.
3. Breaking works very well with the Blizzaks! I didn't end up using ABS even once.
4. Despite the overall stability and reasonable traction of the car, getting started was tough. I drove through two canyons, and went through a town (and stopping to use their free CCS). In town, I'd say there was probably about 4-5 inches on the ground in places. (Constant plowing though) At the stop signs, It would take some wheel spin and time to get the car moving forward. Granted, a couple of those were uphill. I never worried at all, but it definitely left something to be desired. This right here is really the only weak point of the i3's winter performance. I'm interested in trying the Nokian Hakkapelliita R3 tires to see if they have better traction for getting started while on top of powder. FWIW, my Blizzaks are a little bit worn, and are about 3 years old too.

Any thoughts on i3's winter performance from others? I passed a few stuck SUVs and pickup trucks.

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4388
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:43 pm

I bought R3s for my ICE, but haven't been out in the snow with them yet.

The amount of tread depth and age on the OEM winter tires can make a significant difference in their performance for a couple of reasons:
- the rubber does get harder as it ages and less able to conform to whatever is available for traction
- the original rubber on the tires switches closer to an all-season as it wears beyond a certain point - it's a dual-layer implementation if I remember correctly. So, depending on the tread depth left, it may not still be a winter tire rubber you're riding on. Mine are older, but have probably fewer overall miles on them. I'll swap on new ones maybe after this season.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

rtanov
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:55 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:48 am

I've been through several winters with both our i3's - one with winter rubber, the other with the all-seasons. Of course the dedicated winter tires are much better but I also found the all-seasons that came with the 19" wheels adequate especially when they were new. After couple of seasons the traction that the tires can provide is reduced significantly. My observation for a number of winter tires I've had is that during the first season they are awesome, and by the fourth season awesome turns to terrible. This despite that I try to take good care of the tires - storing them away from heat, light, ozone generators (HVAC motors). The all-seasons, as all tires, age too, but sine they are not dedicated for winter traction they become bad much faster - my impression with the i3 that was running on them, was that by the third season driving on wet or snowy/icy pavement was not very safe.

I also have the traction on (I put it on a shortcut button in winter) but when it is slippery I also put the car in Eco mode to reduce the torque - that also seems to help.
2014 BMW i3 REx
2014 BMW i3 BEV - retired

TheMK
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:57 pm

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:10 pm

Seems like both of you guys are hinting I should replace my tires at the end of this season. Maybe there will be some good off season deals on Hakkapeliitta R3s. When I pulled the tires out of storage they seemed a little bit more worn than I remembered.


jadnashuanh wrote:- the original rubber on the tires switches closer to an all-season as it wears beyond a certain point - it's a dual-layer implementation if I remember correctly. So, depending on the tread depth left, it may not still be a winter tire rubber you're riding on. Mine are older, but have probably fewer overall miles on them. I'll swap on new ones maybe after this season.

One of the tires in my set was worn down to the point of almost exposing the treadwear markers. I decided to put that one on the front axle because I was worried that it might cause more slippage with RWD. That's good information though, I assumed the compound was the same the whole way through. Since you said "OEM winter tires", do you know if the Nokian tires use an identical compound the whole way through?

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4388
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:06 pm

Not positive the R3 uses two different compounds, but they do say you should not count on them once the wear indicators change which is quite a bit higher than worn out. At that point, you could wear them out in the spring, say, once you'd normally switch to your other tires.

Every winter tire relies on having a fairly deep tread to gain some traction as opposed to a summer or track tire that work just fine with no tread sipes at all, at least when it's dry.

If I remember correctly, the Nokian winter tires have a snowflake treadwear indicator...when that's worn off, you can't count on it for full winter performance.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

TheMK
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:57 pm

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:22 pm

That's great information Jim!

Right now I'm trying to decide if I should bite the bullet and buy the R3s, or ride out the rest of this season on my Blizzaks. It snowed heavy again today (still going at it right now), and I found my slipping a little bit more than I expected. Today I hit a curb at 5MPH. I could see a little scratch on my rims, but I'm hoping nothing else got damaged. The car probably needs an alignment anyways.

TheMK
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:57 pm

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:33 pm

Sorry for the necro,

Today it snowed quite a bit in the course of about 3-4 hours. I had to make a quick run to a neighbor's house a couple streets away, and on my way back got stuck in front of my driveway. I snowblowed my driveway, and cleared a path back to the car, but still needed someone to help push me to get going. I might have to look into ordering Hakkapeliitta R3s before this season is up (instead of waiting until next season) or a set of snow chains. I had "traction" mode enabled, but the back tires just kept spinning and I started sliding sideways.

PBNB
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:28 am
Location: Vancouver, BC

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:31 pm

I put my new winter setup on yesterday. The weather channel was predicting some snow so I thought I had better get at least one of our cars ready. As it turned out, we just got rain.

During my swap, I had a chance to look a few things over. I noticed that the rotors were starting to look a bit too rusty. I think I need to use them a bit more to clean the surface.

When I took my 20" summers off, and compared them to the Blizzaks, what a difference in the width. The rear summers have to be over an inch wider. Then I took it for a short drive to reset the TPMS. The ride on the Blizzaks is quite stiff compared to the 20's.

I noticed the sticker on the winter set where they referred to the the "i3s" The wheels are 429's and painted black. They look interesting but one thing that sort of bugs me is rim direction. I guess they don't differentiate right and left so all we get are one side for all four wheels. If you look closely, at both sides it appears that one side is installed backwards. I know it doesn't matter and being solid black wheels they sort of blend in.
2015 i3 REX

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4388
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Winter traction in an i3

Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:35 pm

The original year or so had some unique L/R wheels, and with a staggered set, that meant actually four different wheels. From an inventory standpoint, it was probably too much. So, they stopped selling them and stuck with just the (now) 'backwards' design for one side.

The winter tires are all the narrow width (except for maybe the i3s?). They tend to bite through the snow better rather than float.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

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