SNOW, TCS, and AWD System

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2019 CX-9 Grand Touring AWD
Seems half the country is under some sort of snow right now. Here in Indiana we've gotten something close 40" inches this past month. I cannot state the importance of turning off TCS while driving in the snow. With it on, and my absolute bottom of the barrel quality Bridgestone Ecopias tires, I slide all over the place... no traction, going sideways on turns, hitting curbs, can't accelerate from a stop and I was dearly missing my Dodge Charger.. yes my RWD Dodge Charger.

This is my first AWD vehicle. I'm used to RWD or 4X4 (Jeep) and I was super frustrated by the initial snow performance. The Bridgestone Ecopias sure don't help one bit and I read on here that turning off TCS would help. It sure made a difference but I'm still not confident in this vehicle. Maybe new All Seasons are the key...

I'm not happy with Mazda or Bridgestone over the decision to include the Ecopias on these cars in snowy regions to begin with and began complaining from day one. Never got a good answer from either Mazda or Bridgestone and no one wanted to help me swap them out, even prorated, for ANY other tire.

Anyway, sorry this post came off as more of a rant but tl;dr - Turn off TCS in the snow. It helps big time.
 
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2019 CX-9 Grand Touring AWD
What all seasons tires did you have on your charger?

Continental DWS06. They were fantastic in the snow and a huge improvement all around over the stock Firestone Fire hawks.

Don’t get wrong, I’d still lose traction in the charger but that was to be expected in that kind of car. Still though if I kept a light foot I could navigate through all our winters just fine. If the car slid it was predictable. Right now in the Mazda it seems the car gets squirrely, tcs kicks in and all four wheels are trying to control the traction and I feel like a horse on ice skates. At least with it off I feel like my wheels are spinning together and it handles in a more predictable manner. I’m sure this would be greater improved with better tires.
 

rsvinylgraphics

2008.5 MGM MS3
Contributor
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2008.5 MS3
You are not supposed to turn off the TCS when driving on snow covered roads, the only time TCS should be turned off is if you are stuck in snow, or mud.

How worn are your tires?
 
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2019 CX-9 Grand Touring AWD
You are not supposed to turn off the TCS when driving on snow covered roads, the only time TCS should be turned off is if you are stuck in snow, or mud.

How worn down are your tires?

They were brand new my first winter last year. Now they have 9K miles on them.
 
I agree with you the ecopias and falken OEM tires are not the best in snow. That being said Mazda made the conscious decision to have a tire with a more agressive profile to help cater to the handling characteristics of the car (although the ecopias are actually apparently pretty bad at that too ;). ) As good as the AWD is it can’t overcome the fact that these tires thread profile is slippery. They are also very wide for the segment, which doesn’t help on snow, and the fact that it is a very high torque engines makes it really easy to break traction even at mid throttle application. As you said, the tires are the culprit.

We had an early snowfall and I had the chance this year to try the falken in snow before swapping my winter tires. I did a few agressive test runs to see how they behave and I could definitely see why people would complain about the AWD with these tires on. With the falken anything above mid throttle application would make the rear wheels get loose,(that means the AWD is working as intended, but not great to get traction). But with my winter tires the AWD works great.

TCS off would only help with the application of power (won't help with stopping and turning) in certain scenario where all the wheels are losing their traction. TCS OFF will use the brakes to transfer power from one side to the other to try to mimic a closed differential. (For example to prevent the "only one wheel is spinning freely" scenario to help you get out of a deep snow bank you are stuck into.) In my case with my winter tires, I actually prefers to keep TCS ON. Turning off TCS makes the car feel loser with my set-up, and TCS ON will still let me kick the rear out once in a while when I feel like it.

Car manufacturers chooses tires for a bunch of factor, i think the expectation that they will fit an all around tire on every car is probably wrong. Honestly if your conditions warrants it, get a set of winter tires. Thats what i have always done and their performance are so much better than even the best all-season tires. Over the life of the vehicle it doesn’t even cost much more because your summer wheels will last longer. Or as you said you could change your tires to a more winter oriented all season tire, but I understand the frustration of paying to change the tires on a new car.
 
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‘17 CX9 & ‘19 3 GT
They were brand new my first winter last year. Now they have 9K miles on them.
The factory OEM all season tires are usually not good on snow/ice/slush roads as well as the tread wear life as manufacturers prioritize cost, fuel economy, comfort & quietness. Whenever I buy new vehicles, because of where I live (extreme cold climate in winter), I always upgrade to all-weather tires which have better tread life and are winter rated tires you can run all year round with better performance in winter conditions vs all seasons or they call them as 3-season tires. A full set of AW tires cost me $1K CAD (OTD) that includes free lifetime puncture repairs, balancing and rotation. Then I sell the OEM all season tires as second hand for only $400-500 therefore it’s a worthy upgrade for $500+. Dedicated winter tires are still the best but I hate the cost & hassle of swapping tires twice a year...so far the AW tires have served me well in all my current and previous 4 vehicles and I swear by them.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
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Canada
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'18 CX-9 Signature
My car came with Ecopias as well. What is your tire pressure set to? I ask because when I took delivery, the car felt a little stiff, and as soon as it snowed I felt the car couldn't maintain traction very well in a turn. I checked my tire pressures and they were set to almost 50 PSI (factory recommendation with OEM tires is something like 34 or 36). After adjusting my tire pressures the car felt much more compliant - even gripping well enough to get me up an icy hill in Calgary that other cars were struggling with. That might be something to check, just in case. But I will agree that the Ecopia tires are good for a quiet, comfortable ride and not much else.
 
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2019 CX-9 Grand Touring AWD
I agree with you the ecopias and falken OEM tires are not the best in snow. That being said Mazda made the conscious decision to have a tire with a more agressive profile to help cater to the handling characteristics of the car (although the ecopias are actually apparently pretty bad at that too ;). ) As good as the AWD is it can’t overcome the fact that these tires thread profile is slippery. They are also very wide for the segment, which doesn’t help on snow, and the fact that it is a very high torque engines makes it really easy to break traction even at mid throttle application. As you said, the tires are the culprit.

We had an early snowfall and I had the chance this year to try the falken in snow before swapping my winter tires. I did a few agressive test runs to see how they behave and I could definitely see why people would complain about the AWD with these tires on. With the falken anything above mid throttle application would make the rear wheels get loose,(that means the AWD is working as intended, but not great to get traction). But with my winter tires the AWD works great.

TCS off would only help with the application of power (won't help with stopping and turning) in certain scenario where all the wheels are losing their traction. TCS OFF will use the brakes to transfer power from one side to the other to try to mimic a closed differential. (For example to prevent the "only one wheel is spinning freely" scenario to help you get out of a deep snow bank you are stuck into.) In my case with my winter tires, I actually prefers to keep TCS ON. Turning off TCS makes the car feel loser with my set-up, and TCS ON will still let me kick the rear out once in a while when I feel like it.

Car manufacturers chooses tires for a bunch of factor, i think the expectation that they will fit an all around tire on every car is probably wrong. Honestly if your conditions warrants it, get a set of winter tires. Thats what i have always done and their performance are so much better than even the best all-season tires. Over the life of the vehicle it doesn’t even cost much more because your summer wheels will last longer. Or as you said you could change your tires to a more winter oriented all season tire, but I understand the frustration of paying to change the tires on a new car.

I've considered a set winter tires for the Mazda. I already curbed my passenger side from sliding in the snow so I thought about getting Blizzaks for the stock rims and then picking up some 3 seasons with new rims. That'll be a decent chunk of change when it's all said and done though.

The factory OEM all season tires are usually not good on snow/ice/slush roads as well as the tread wear life as manufacturers prioritize cost, fuel economy, comfort & quietness. Whenever I buy new vehicles, because of where I live (extreme cold climate in winter), I always upgrade to all-weather tires which have better tread life and are winter rated tires you can run all year round with better performance in winter conditions vs all seasons or they call them as 3-season tires. A full set of AW tires cost me $1K CAD (OTD) that includes free lifetime puncture repairs, balancing and rotation. Then I sell the OEM all season tires as second hand for only $400-500 therefore it’s a worthy upgrade for $500+. Dedicated winter tires are still the best but I hate the cost & hassle of swapping tires twice a year...so far the AW tires have served me well in all my current and previous 4 vehicles and I swear by them.

What tires have you switched to? I considered swapping out the OEMs when I first got the car but I was following a thread here where someone got Bridgestone to swap the Ecopias for something else. I tried that route as well by contacting Bridgestone directly and Mazda but never got anywhere. Then COVID happened. I was working from home mostly so I wasn't driving this winter and I was hoping to run these through another summer and then buy before next winter. Then all the sudden our office opened back up right in the middle of our snow season.

My car came with Ecopias as well. What is your tire pressure set to? I ask because when I took delivery, the car felt a little stiff, and as soon as it snowed I felt the car couldn't maintain traction very well in a turn. I checked my tire pressures and they were set to almost 50 PSI (factory recommendation with OEM tires is something like 34 or 36). After adjusting my tire pressures the car felt much more compliant - even gripping well enough to get me up an icy hill in Calgary that other cars were struggling with. That might be something to check, just in case. But I will agree that the Ecopia tires are good for a quiet, comfortable ride and not much else.
34 all around. That was one of the things Mazda had me check when I contacted them. I make sure to check it when the weather changes to account for any swings in temperature now but even at the perfect pressure I don't have much grip in the snow. You're right that the Ecopia's are great for a quite and comfortable ride. I didn't have any complaints there in the 3 other seasons.
 
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‘17 CX9 & ‘19 3 GT
I've considered a set winter tires for the Mazda. I already curbed my passenger side from sliding in the snow so I thought about getting Blizzaks for the stock rims and then picking up some 3 seasons with new rims. That'll be a decent chunk of change when it's all said and done though.



What tires have you switched to? I considered swapping out the OEMs when I first got the car but I was following a thread here where someone got Bridgestone to swap the Ecopias for something else. I tried that route as well by contacting Bridgestone directly and Mazda but never got anywhere. Then COVID happened. I was working from home mostly so I wasn't driving this winter and I was hoping to run these through another summer and then buy before next winter. Then all the sudden our office opened back up right in the middle of our snow season.


34 all around. That was one of the things Mazda had me check when I contacted them. I make sure to check it when the weather changes to account for any swings in temperature now but even at the perfect pressure I don't have much grip in the snow. You're right that the Ecopia's are great for a quite and comfortable ride. I didn't have any complaints there in the 3 other seasons.
I’ve always used Nokian WRG3 or WRG4 All-weather tires...these are exclusive to Kal Tire in Canada hence why you get those added perks of free lifetime repairs, balancing & rotation. Nokian is based in Finland and they invented the winter tires and have factories in other countries like Russia (most of the AW tires I’ve bought were made in Russia).
 
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Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 2016
It's all about the tires.

Gard, consider all-weather tires. They are 4-season tires that have good snow traction, not the longest tread life, but poor on ice. Or get any real snow tires and whatever wheels you want to buy. You can use 20, 19, 18, or 17" wheels and 255 or 245 tires with whatever aspect ratio gets you back within 2% of the original 30" outside diameter. I have used Kia wheels on my CX9 with 245/65-17 tires. Works great. I've been in some very deep snow and very slick roads with the Blizzak DM-V2 and our Mazda AWD, and never a problem. I know that certain (not all) new all-season tires are pretty good on snow, but I feel that real winter tires give me the added advantage of maybe being able to avoid some fool sliding at me.
 
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Mazda 2 touring
I replaced the Falkens 6 months in with some Michelin premier ltx all seasons (great handling, poor tread life) and I’ve done fine, with some lite off roading as well (TCS OFF). Although, that black ice is a little tricky.
 
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