BMW 3 Series winter tyres

by chris sanders on 9th September 2011

BMW 3 Series

Update for 2014/15
BMW launch new 3 series (F30, 2012>)

So the new 3 series has now arrived, does any of the above advice change for these? Well yes and no!

In terms of wheels the spec is very similar, we can offer the same range of wheels that are suitable for the earlier models. The only difference is the tyre sizes used, BMW have opted for a higher profile tyre on the F30. They are now fitted with the following as standard:


Our partner Tyremen has set up new wheel & tyre packages for the F30 that have the correct tyre sizes and offer both standard and run-flat tyres depending on your need.

It appears that in terms of reducing wheel size the 316, 318 & 320 will take a 16″ wheel, whilst 325 versions and above will require a 17″ package. If your new 3 series has 18″ as standard then winter tyres are available in these sizes (even if 255/40 on the rear) and they could be swapped onto your existing wheels. If your vehicle has 19″ on then BMW have opted for a very unusual tyre size on the front and you will struggle to find a suitable winter tyre, you’ll need to look at a smaller package.

If you have a wheel and tyre package from an older model then really you would need the tyres changing before fitting to the new vehicle otherwise the speedo will become inaccurate. Our advice would always be of possible sell winter packages along with any vehicle sale and start again on the new car.

If you need any further info don’t hesitate to ask the team at Tyremen.

Tel: 08456 807808

Welcome to my second blog on vehicle specific winter tyre advice, and I’ve decided to stick with BMW and what must be the best selling rear wheel drive vehicle in the UK – the 3 Series.

Being rear wheel drive the 3-series can propose a challenge during the winter months, in fact we receive many calls from customers across the UK that can’t even get out of their drive when there is snow on the ground. The good news is that winter tyres will make a massive different to performance and totally transform these vehicles. Better still is that (most) 3 Series are on pretty standard tyre sizes and winter tyres and wheel set ups are available at sensible prices.

Lets start with the smallest sizes that they can come on: 205/55R16.

If you have this as standard fit then it could be on runflat or standard tyres; standard – my vote would have to be the Vredestein Snowtrac 5 Consistently top placed in European winter tyre tests. Especially when the tests look at traction in snow this tyre generally comes out top. If on runflat then availability can be difficult for these, however Goodyear & Dunlop both produce quality tyres that may be available if you get in early enough. Also the Continental TS850 topped many of the winter tyre tests and is available now at Tyremen.

This tyre size is also what many 3-series owners drop down onto during the winter when 17″ and 18″ are fitted as standard. The reason for this is that the narrowness of a 16″ wheel really helps improve traction during winter, also the tyre costs are much more sensible. Most 3 series can reduce to 16″ wheels, although there are some exceptions:

3 Series coupe 2006 onwards – has to be 17″ upwards

3 Series cabrio 2007 onwards – 17″ and above

Other 3-series (E92/E93) – 16″ are only suitable for 90-140kW versions

If you want to check any of this data for your model, or are unsure which kW version you have, then you are welcome to try the Tyremen team who will be able to advise accordingly.

Assuming that you want to go down this route then 16″ wheel packages are available in steel or alloy. Steel wheels offer great value for money, whilst the alloys are a little more aesthetically pleasing. Wheel and tyre sets start at just over £600 and offer OE quality at discount prices.

Moving up to 17″ – generally BMW use 225/45R17 on both axles. On the very odd sports models they have a wider, and a very unusual size at that on the rear. If this is the case then direct replacement could be tricky, I’d advising getting in touch with a tyre expert in order to check availability. However with regular 225/45′s you have a few options.  Topping most of the tyre tests last year was the Continental TS850, which is available as a regular winter tyre and winter runflat. When moving away from runflats then their are a host of quality winter tyres available. Our partner site, Tyremen’s most popular winter tyre in this size was the Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme. There is very little review info out there in regard to this tyre but from personal experience they are fantastic. However availability of these in the UK can be really problematic and at this moment in time no dates are confirmed on these landing in the UK in any quantity. As a more cost effective option the Hankook W300 is well worth a look, it has a modern asymmetric pattern which is not overly aggressive and particularly suited to UK conditions.

This size is also what would be used if your 3-series came on 18″ wheels and you wanted to reduce wheel size for winter. Tyremen offer an Alutec alloy wheel which is great quality and perfect for winter use. Wheels are TUV approved for use on 3-Series and come with a 5 year guarantee on the paint finish.

18″ – Personally if your vehicle come on 18″ wheels then I would seriously consider either a 16″ or 17″ package. Failing that then you would probably need 225/40R18 for the front and 255/35R18 for the rear. In 2010 the Hankook W300 Icebear was very popular as a good quality tyre at sensible money. If these are unavailable then offerings by the premium manufacturers become silly money really and you would probably find smaller wheels and tyres for less money than split sized 18″ winter tyres.

Some new BMW’s do have 19″ wheel options, if you went for this then I’m sure that your 3-series looks lovely, but I wouldn’t expect it to go far in the winter! Tyres in the 19″ sizes are essentially impossible to source so wheels and tyres are going to be needed. However saying that I know the boys & girls at Tyremen love a good challenge so feel free to get in touch and see if they can source anything for you.

I hope this helps – happy driving!


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

winter tyre September 16, 2011 at 11:31 am

Great Post. Thanks.


Mohammed February 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I need to find the best alloy wheels a set of 4 for a BMW 3 series please could you could you help me decide?


Which Tyres February 28, 2012 at 11:40 am

If you take a look at our wheel collection and put your vehicle details in you will see what we stock for your 3 Series:



Martin Davies October 28, 2012 at 7:32 am

I am shortly taking delivery of a standard September 08 BMW E93 M3 convertible which I will need to take to the French alps at the end of January, could you please advise on the best choice of winter tyres for this country and skiing over the winter period. Martin.


Which Tyres October 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Hi there, I think you will struggle to find winter tyres in your current sizes! Generally when we (Tyremen) have sold for these we have done 18″ wheel and tyre sets. Phill.


Jon July 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I have a 2010 318d M Sport which currently runs on 17″ – 225/45 on front and 255/40 on the back. If I drop to 16″ for winter is it the same 205/55 for front and back? Thanks


Which Tyres July 30, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hi there, yes that is what I’d suggest. Doing this allows you to have the narrowest tyre possible on the drive wheels which really helps when it comes to winter traction. Cheers, Phill.


Jon July 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

Thanks for the advice and very useful article.


Suneel Saini December 5, 2014 at 2:23 am

Hi there,

Nice article, found it very useful. Thanks. I am looking for Winter tyres for 10 Reg 320D 2.0 M Sport which runs 17″- 225/45 on front & 255/40 in rear. I really don’t want to spend money getting new wheels unless it makes a huge difference! What sizes/brand would you recommend & are they same on all four wheels? Thanks for your help. Suneel


Jason Stevens-Read December 10, 2014 at 10:14 am

Hi Suneel,

Sorry for the delay in responding, you can buy tyres from Tyremen and they are Continental TS810S and for a full set will cost you £703.20 delivered. This is a great option if you want to keep your current alloys on. Just be aware that you will have to have them changed over at a local tyre fitter a few times at an average cost of £50 to £80 twice a year.

You can go for a winter set of alloys and tyres which will make them the same size all round. This will give you a narrower tyre to the rear drive wheels, which is always recommended, and the car will perform better. Follow this link to see what’s available

The cost for a winter set is around £840, and if competent, you can change these yourself, cutting out the cost.

If you need more advice, ring Chris at Tyremen on 08456 807808



Which Tyres?


paul January 31, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Hi, I have a 330i 2009 M sport. I have 19″ alloys and the following tyres

front = 225/35r19 88y
back = 255/30r19 91y

I want to change the alloys to 17″ so I don’t break the alloys due to hitting pot holes etc. What tyre options do I have if I put 17″ alloys on ?
do I have to have the same size wheels front/back ?

Any advice will be appreciated



Jason Stevens-Read February 2, 2015 at 9:45 am

Hi Paul,

You are able to reduce down to a 17″ wheel that will fit the 330i M Sport which will not have an affect on the speedo or gearing.

The general size offered is 225/45R17 for all four wheels which look fine and you don’t notice the difference. Follow this link–bmw—3-series-2001-2011 to a superb set of black alloys and tyres at just over £1k

If you already have the wheels, make sure that they will clear the brakes and that the offset is correct, usually 30 and the stud pattern is 5X120.

If you want to talk to someone, call Chris on 08456 807808 because there are other wheels out there. Tyres start at around £50 each up to how ever much you want to pay.

You can get different sizes front and rear, but again, this comes down to what you would like.

Hope this helps


Which Tyres?


Chas Duffield August 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Can I use winter tyres 205 45 16 all round on my 3 series which has 225 40 18 on front and 255 35 18 on rear as suggested in the advice above


Chas Duffield August 14, 2015 at 8:40 pm

I meant can I use 205 55 16 winter tyres


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