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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

New Winter Tires

This week I decided to go ahead with the purchase of winter tires and eventually settled on the Dunlop Winter Sport M3 in 225/50 fitment. Tire Rack categorizes these as "Performance Winter" tires. This category is positioned squarely between "All Season" and the more aggressive "Winter" tires like the well-known Blizzak. Considering I live in New Jersey, where we typically get 4 or 5 "snow days", rather than the continuous blizzard otherwise known as Buffalo, I figured I'd be realistic about my needs and expectations. I wanted a tire that would give me better performance in winter conditions but not sacrifice the performance I've come to demand from the car the other 98% of the time I planned to use it. The Dunlop Winter Sport M3 fit the bill and was reasonably priced and well reviewed to boot. Sold!

(Image: Closeup of tread on newly installed dunlop winter sport m3) Tire Rack won the bid again, so that meant I needed to talk to my dealer about mounting and balancing. While they still charge $75(!) to mount and balance a tire, I asked the service manager to honor the price I negotiated last year for $40 per tire and he agreed. Since Tire Rack shipped the tires from the Delaware warehouse, they showed up at my dealer's parts department in 24 hours. Can't beat that service.

Today I picked up the newly mounted tires and installed them on the car. My technician kindly marked the tires with the road force numbers as requested and confirmed that I had not one, but two bent wheels (not exactly a surprise). The worst wheel of the two was discarded and the other was configured as the new spare. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the road force numbers were 4, 5, 11, and 13 lbs -- far better than I expected from a Dunlop tire. Anything below 18 lbs is acceptable to BMW, so I consider myself lucky. I installed the 11 and 13 on the rear axle while the 4 & 5 went on the front where tire eccentricity is most critical.

The only snag in the process of swapping wheels came after I removed the bolts and tried to pull the CSL wheels off; I found them quite firmly stuck to the hubs! I alternately pounded on all sides of the tire until they broke free. I have to admit I saw this coming because I forgot to put anti-seize on the face of the hubs when I installed them but I never did get around to fixing the oversight. Before I mounted wheels this time I made sure to put a thin coat of anti-seize on the hub. I think I put on enough to get the job done but I guess I'll find out April when the CSL wheels return to the car. The moral of the story? Never underestimate the bonding power of dissimilar metal corrosion.

This wheel conversion provided the opportunity to leverage my new compressor and air wrench, which really made this job so much faster and easier. I can't say enough about the practicality of air tools for the DIY technician. They might seem like overkill...until you use them. If you can afford the investment, I highly recommend them.

Mileage: 152888, Parts: $630, Parts Saved: $100, Labor: $160