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Tire Questions for 2016 i3

Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:50 pm

I am a total electric car newbie and very interested in getting a used 2016 i3. I see a lot of concerns with the tires for the i3. Is this a huge problem with say the 2016 and later models? Also, can you buy run-flat tires for these cars? I'm not sure how I feel about not having a spare tire. It would be the first car I've owned without a spare tire.

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Re: Tire Questions for 2016 i3

Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:10 pm

No run-flat tires are available for the i3.

Many different cars have been delivered with no spare tires for many years. It can be unnerving to consider. I then realized that I could not recall when I last had a flat tire (and my memory isn't failing). So I quit worrying and bought a tire repair kit that I carry in the frunk along with some needle-nose pliers to remove whatever caused the flat. There are some flats that a tire repair kit can't repair. I'm willing to accept the very low odds that this might happen to me.

However, some drive where road debris seems to much worse than where I drive. These people might have greater concern than I do.

2014 BMW i3 Arravani Grey, Giga World, Tech + Driving Assist, Parking Assist, DC Fast Charging, JuiceBox EVSE

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Re: Tire Questions for 2016 i3

Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:43 pm

When you say a lot of concerns and ask if it's a huge problem, what concerns? What problem?

Some complain about the ride quality of 20s, but most people including myself think the 19s ride just fine.
They are skinny which not only looks funny but also limit the handling. Good for rolling resistance (maximize range), but bad for cornering.
They are expensive.
Some complain about short tread life. RWD, lots of weight in the back, strong regenerative braking... Ya, the rear tires can wear out fast.
No spare. It's almost funny how new cars have the space saver spare which isn't much different from the standard i3 tires, but the i3 doesn't have a spare.

As of yet I have not seen a definitive guide to swapping in wider tires. I really do think the i3 would benefit from swapping to whatever the closest "standard" tire size is. Not sure what all is needed as far as back spacing, fender flares, minimum height wheel, etc. and I don't really want to be the guinea pig. Range would take a hit, but depending on how big a hit it might be worth it.

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Re: Tire Questions for 2016 i3

Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:15 pm

Thanks for the response. The concerns I read about were mainly that they wear pretty fast and seem to be thin therefore more susceptable to punctures and flats. I've test driven a couple now and love how they ride and perform. I've never had to use a tire kit or fill a car tire with sealant so that would be much different than I'm used to. I've also read that some people buy a spare tire kit and carry with them. Not sure if that's a great option or not.

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Re: Tire Questions for 2016 i3

Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:36 pm

From personal experience, the 20" sport wheels and low-profile tires are fragile, prone to sidewall damage, and have a harsh ride. If you are shopping for an i3, find one with 19" rims.

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Re: Tire Questions for 2016 i3

Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:35 am

Also the tire repair kit they offer can yield some issues. Place this goo inside the tire may not be the ideal solution because I have heard sometimes it can mess with the tire pressure sensors (TPMS). Maybe damage them or at least they need to be cleaned? I myself went out a bought a "Tire Plugger" or even a tire repair kit that comes with a tire plug kit would do. This BMW repair kit will never be used.

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Re: Tire Questions for 2016 i3

Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:04 pm

The actual tread contact area will be the same at the same tire pressure, but a wider tire will have it oriented differently than a narrower one. BMW chose the taller ones for lower drag, and they also chose to use forged wheels (which are stronger) while weighing less than a standard alloy wheel. Tall/narrow is better for acceleration and stopping...wider is better for cornering. If you want better handling, buy the i3s where they've changed some things around.

Being narrower should mean you have less chance of actually rolling over something that would pierce the tire! The lower profile 20" tire/wheel setup has less cushion, so is more likely to damage the sidewall (and worst case, the wheel) than the 19". Plus, if you do drive in the colder weather or in snow, the 20" are ONLY a summer, performance tire, so are not expected to work great in the cold/snowy conditions, and the rubber compound is more geared towards traction than longevity, so the 20" tires are very likely to wear out sooner than the 19" ones.

You don't have a choice in OEM sizes except if you're looking for winter tires, where there's at least one other one than the from Nokian, their R3 is available for the i3 which is a low-rolling resistance tire compound designed as a winter tire.

I was reading a discussion on the VW electric...they tried performance tires on it to compare with the low-rolling resistance tires that come from the factory, and their EV range dropped by 20%. I would expect, should you choose some other tire/wheel other than OEM on the i3, that it will potentially have a similar effect. BMW worked with the tire manufacturer to come up with a tire that had the fewest compromises for this EV platform. Tall to maintain a decent footprint, and narrow to minimize drag. Change any of those factors, and you'll likely see a change in max range. Depends on what you're interested in, and what you're willing to give up for any potential performance or visual impacts.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV
Soon (hopefully!) A 2021 X5 45e will replace the above

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