BMW 1-Series Forum (F20) 135i - > BIMMERPOST Universal Forums > General BMW News and Cars Discussion > Summer Tires - Close call with cold weather
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      Yesterday, 09:44 AM   #1
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Drives: 2012 BMW M3 w/ZCP 6MT
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Summer Tires - Close call with cold weather


I'll try to keep the reader's attention and condense this as best possible. Normally I keep my M3 parked here in Oregon late October to end of April. The rain and general crap conditions make it less fun to drive during the winter months here. Towards the end of her hibernation though I was 'itching' to get out and drive for the first time in a while.

It was late April and the weather forecast was no rain, but cold and I thought I was good to go. I left my house and checked the temperature reading of the car dash console, 42 degrees F. OK, should be fine - right? I get 4 miles from my house and I glance again at the temperature read-out. Right away I knew something was not right. The temperature had dropped to 33-31 degrees F, I stuck my hand out the window and it felt remarkably cold. I was driving back roads to work so not on freeways, my average speed is 35 MPH when I drive back roads.

The headlights shining down the road started to make it look like a field of brilliant shiny diamonds and crystals. I knew right away that was frost or worst black ice so I reduced my speed right away. Creeping along at 20-25 MPH made it seem less scary knowing I was now driving on ice crystals. I was approaching a busy intersection and thought maybe because of it being used more the ice and frost would be melted from tire and road friction. I pulled out onto the high traveled road and slowly accelerated right away things were not right. The car fishtailed big time, so much that I was turned perpendicular to the road. Scared the shit out of me, all the anti-skid, warning lights and audible alerts were going off in the symphony, struggling to alert the me to stop what I was doing. I kind of panicked as I now could tell the entire road was basically a sheet of ice.

The road is two lanes in either direction and while it was very early in the morning there was still enough cars that I worried about other drivers losing control themselves. I decided to return home immediately and switch cars, the outdoor temp reading was 31 degrees F, I slowly moved along while feeling the car be very slippery on the road. I was totally freaked out and with any amount of throttle the rear tires would spin so I tried to drive smooth and well below 25 MPH. I worried hills or areas where I would need to ‘climb’, what if I couldn't get home? I was prepared to park the car and call a flatbed trailer. But I kept going and just then saw a car coming from the opposite direction swerve and spin 180 degrees around. Thankfully the other car did not cross into my lanes and the driver quickly recovered and regained control to move the car there from the middle of the road and onto their side. I made it home and tucked the M3 back into the garage. I went in the house to grab the other set of keys and told my wife what happened, she said I was lucky to have made it home as she just heard the weather called for some sections around the county to have black ice.

Lesson learned – NEVER shall I underestimate the warnings they tell you about summer rated performance tires and cold weather driving conditions.


Drive Safe and Be Careful out there guys

2012 BMW M3|ZCP|6MT|Navi|Cold Weather Package |Premium Package|
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      Yesterday, 09:52 AM   #2

Drives: 17 340ix, 19 M550i incoming
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Oh yeah, simply put - Summer tires ARE LIFE THREATENING below 40 degrees. I've had similar and it's why I decided to never purchase summer tires again (I live in Northeast US) all seasons are much better components, you loose a little performance in the summer but the safety factor for season changes is worth it for mine & family safety as well as simply the cost of even a minor accident.

Going through what you did myself; I recovered, no harm, no damage - it changed my mind instantly. the crazy part is you don't realize that with the slightest frost, summer tires turn into sleds, the acceleration traction is minor, the issue is around a turn, the car will just slide sideways off the road... and if you tap the brakes you go into slide mode which ABS compounds the problem because it thinks you have at least 10% traction...

It's like ice skating with dress shoes...
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      Yesterday, 09:55 AM   #3

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i drive with the summers in the winter. But I live in the good ole brine state of USA. Where salt brine rains from the sky...

If u dare to do as I; never take the car out if you think you will encounter ice or any precipation . The cars already struggles to grip even in the heat
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      Yesterday, 10:03 AM   #4
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been there done that. Scariest drive home was a 1 mile trip from office in an Acura TL type-S with summers in a flurry with a half inch of snow on the ground. Car was slipping and sliding everywhere. This was in Atlanta like 10 years back. Got home ok but was white knuckle driving at 5-15mph in stop and go traffic!

On the flip side, driving with winters in nice weather also sucks and can be dangerous. not like summers in winter dangerous but no bueno either!
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      Today, 08:31 AM   #5

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In addition to being dangerous in winter, anything under 50 degrees and you lose performance and they feel like rocks. Just not enjoyable even if the weather is otherwise clear. The flip side of it is modern summer tires are amazing at the intended temperature.
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      Today, 08:59 AM   #6
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Glad it was just a learning experience and not worse. But to be honest it sounds as though the conditions were such that nothing short of full winter tires would have been of much use.

I occasionally take my summer-tired toy out in the wintertime, just to keep its juices flowing. I drive like a granny though when I do it! And I don't go out when the temperature is below freezing. Even so the grip from the tires is immensely diminished, but on dry roads the car will go where it's pointed -- at those granny speeds.
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      Today, 10:31 AM   #7

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I've been using summer and winter tires on BMWs for 20+ years. I leave my summers on until around early December. Lots of cold mornings in the 20s where I have to tip toe on the clover leafs. But I drive the freeways to work. If the forecast calls for any real accumulation, I'll work from home or put on the snows before work. I think the earliest I've ever mounted winters was Thanksgiving. The latest was between Christmas and New Years. Always take them off in April.
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      Today, 11:00 AM   #8
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I'm glad I live in SoCal where this is never an issue. BTW, love your M3!

2018 Melbourne Red 340i ZHP
Previous BMW's:
2012 Le Mans Blue 335i Coupe / 1990 Alpine White M3
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      Today, 11:37 AM   #9
The Libertine
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Thank you for posting. This should serve as a PSA for those who think they can run summer tires except for when it snows.
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