Winter Winter Tyres (and Steel Wheels) - My Experience - Civinfo
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 5th December 2015, 17:22 Thread Starter
 
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Winter Tyres (and Steel Wheels) - My Experience

After extensive research I took the plunge and bought a complete set of winter tyres and steel wheels for my 2014 Civic 5dr 1.8 SE+. I couldn't find a huge amount of information online specific to the European Civic (plenty for the US version) so I've set out everything I've done/found out in the hope someone might find it useful.

Tyre Size
The car was supplied with 225/45/r17 tyres which I have always felt were a bit big to be the ideal setup (though they look good). Narrower tyres with deeper side walls are better in snow too, so I downsized to 205/55/r16 on new steel rims. This also brought the cost of the tyres down a little and there is a huge choice available in this size.

Speed and Load Rating
Speed rating proved a tricky issue. When you check the manual, my car can have 15, 16 or 17 inch wheels, each with different speed ratings. This seems bizarre as the performance of the car is the same. It seems to be widely accepted however that winter tyres have a lower speed rating than summer tyres.

So I contacted my insurer, Churchill, and had an online chat with one of their advisers (I highly recommend this as you have the option of emailing yourself a transcript of the conversation to keep on file). They said I had to meet the DVLA requirements and be legal and safe. So I trawled through Google, read the MOT requirements and established that I must have tyres fit for the purpose I use them for. So I chose rating 91H, matching the load rating of the original tyres and limited to 130mph. Given I have no intention of going anywhere near that speed, I consider these to be fit for purpose.

Tyre
I chose Dunlop WinterSport 5 tyres - they came out well in the 2015 Autoexpress tyre test and had good ratings for economy, performance and noise - the latter being significantly lower than many other winter tyres. I only fitted the tyres yesterday so I'll post updates on what they are like to live with over the winter.

Wheel
With the cost of the wheel/tyre package, I couldn't justify the extra for alloys, so chose steel wheels. The tyre/wheel supplier said I had to establish if my vehicle manufacturer would permit steel wheels to be fitted to the car. The 8G Civic has steel wheels on base models, but the 9G doesn't, so I emailed Honda Customer Services twice over a couple of weeks and got no reply (and still nothing over a month later). I then called and was told to speak with my dealer. So I called my dealer, spoke to the parts manager and though he didn't have a clear answer, he couldn't see a reason why I shouldn't fit steel wheels. The only issue I see is brake cooling but this isn't going to be a problem in winter in normal driving.

I have included some photos below of them on the car. Not stylish, but tough and given the state of the roads probably quite sensible. I may however get some cheap wheel trims to keep some of the dirt off the hub centres. The Civic requires bolt pattern 5x114.30x64.00 with an offset of ET45. It is the offset that prevents 8G 16 inch wheels fitting the 9G otherwise I would have got some secondhand 8G wheels.

Wheel Nuts
Honda use a spherical rather than a tapered seat for their wheel nuts. I only found this out after ordering the wheels, however the wheels were obviously specifically designed for the Honda wheel nut and have a curved seat to match the nuts. There were no issues during fitting, and we checked using grease before fitting that the nuts would sit properly on the wheels.

Supplier
I ordered from mytyres.co.uk. They are actually a German firm albeit with a UK outlet. The wheels and tyres were though shipped from Germany (only found this out via DPD tracking) and it took 2.5 weeks from ordering to delivery. This was a lot longer than I had hoped, though I did get two emails advising me of progress. The flip side is the price, 404 mounted, balanced and delivered - far cheaper than anywhere else.

Insurance
My insurer, Churchill, said I needed to tell them when I made the swap. I called them last night and they are sending out revised paperwork. There is no charge for this change to the policy. The ABI (Association of British Insurers) produce a document listing how each insurer treats winter tyres (Google 'ABI winter tyres') and whether you need to contact your insurer. Oddly, it says I don't need to contact Churchill, despite them saying otherwise, so best to play safe and call your insurer.

Fitting
Fitted them on the driveway easily enough, though having a mechanic for a housemate helps. However, after fitting and removing the dust caps to check the pressure I found one of the valves was leaking air. Fortunately the tyres were supplied over inflated so I was able to refit the dust cap and get to a local garage this morning where they replaced the valve for free. I will check each valve carefully before fitting next time.

Driving
So far I've only driven into town and back, but the steering is noticeably lighter which I like and the road noise is significantly lower which I really like. The car has lost some of its sharpness on turn in though and if you wiggle the steering wheel you can feel the tyres flexing which is a bit odd at first. Unfortunately the temperature is currently 10 degrees so I have no idea how they will perform if we get some proper winter weather, but I'll post an update in due course.

I've not noticed much change in the ride. The new wheels/tyres are lighter than the OEM supplied combo and with the deeper side wall and softer rubber I was hoping for more of an improvement. The ride is still not damped properly and crashes a bit on sharp dips etc. The car does though seem a bit keener off the line and less inclined to bog down. This may be purely coincidence, but the lighter wheels may have helped.

This has become more of an essay than intended, but I hope someone finds it helpful.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 5th December 2015, 19:06
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Great write up. I fitted 8g alloys to mine, the offset is 55 so the wheels are further in towards suspension and brake calipers. Haven't had any clearance problems but brake pads are quite worn, will have to check when new pads are fitted. I also noticed lighter steering but put it down to different offset wheels. Thanks for the to link to the Abi.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 5th December 2015, 19:13
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My that's a thorough write up.

The tyres may well scrub in and turn in should sharpen up once the release agent has gone.

For comparison, what noise rating are your old and new tyres?

Do you know how much lighter the 2nd set of wheels are?

You got a good price on wheels/tyres and fitting.

Let us know how they feel after a few hundred miles.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 6th December 2015, 12:20
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Good writeup. I didn't want to go with steel wheels so I bought a set of 16inch alloys from ebay. They were from a Honda dealer that had taken them off a new car to replace with larger alloys. Therefore they were in as new condition. They were 150 delivered. Tyres and fitting were obviously an additional cost.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 6th December 2015, 14:14 Thread Starter
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@jc40

Very interesting that you've managed to fit 8G alloys to your 9G. I was following the advice in this thread http://www.civinfo.com/forum/9g-gene...heels-fit.html which says they won't fit. Are yours still 16 inch?

@Farqui

I'll look up the data for the old tyres and post later. Not sure on the weight as I don't have any bathroom scales to weigh them, it was purely subjective picking up the different wheels, but very noticeable. I'll update this thread when I've covered a few hundred miles. Hope it gets colder!

@kphondo

I was looking on ebay for weeks to try and find a leftover set of 16 inch alloys from a dealer but couldn't find any, hence looking at wheel/tyre packages. 150 is a bargain; deducting the cost of the tyres, I reckon the steel wheels cost me about 120 for the four but that included tyre fitting. There was a dealer selling a complete set of new 16 inch 9G alloys with delivery mileage Michelin summer tyres for 350. I was very tempted but that was more money than I needed to spend.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 6th December 2015, 17:26
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I also have 8g alloys on that I got from ebay, Had no problem with clearance on previous 9g, fitted to the new 9g this weekend with only 900miles on the clock and the clearance is fine. It will soon be time to put the car to proper test as we have 3 winter trips down to Austria coming up, will be interesting to see how the 1.6 performs as our previous 3 civics have all been 2.2s.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 6th December 2015, 17:41
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These are the alloys. 6.5x16 et 55.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 12th December 2015, 09:49 Thread Starter
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@jc40

That's interesting (and good) that the 8G wheels fit. I was looking at the standard 5 spoke SE wheels - could it be that some designs will fit and some won't? Not sure if that can be the case if the size, offset etc are the same.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 12th December 2015, 10:40
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The only thing i could see that may catch is the back of the spokes on the caliper, my pads are well worn and when replaced would push the caliper very close to the spokes. There is clearance between the tyre and strut and I've had no rubbing problems on full lock.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 20th December 2015, 14:34 Thread Starter
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A quick update after 2 weeks and nearly 500 miles. Overall I am very happy with the change however there is a caveat - as you'll see above I haven't simply swapped to winter tyres but also changed to a smaller wheel. So the changes I've noticed are from a combination of a different tyre compound/tread pattern, narrower tyres with a deeper sidewall and lighter wheels.

Road noise is much lower though you can now hear more engine, wind and suspension noise, but nothing excessive. The car still feels nippier off the line and the lighter steering feels more natural and is actually nicer on a winding road. Fuel economy is better than on the 17s; there is one particular hill I used to have to feather the throttle on the way down, but on the narrower 16s I can roll down it without touching the throttle, despite the softer rubber compound.

Grip levels have proved a mixed bag, and to a large extent I blame this on the abnormally mild weather. Yesterday it was 15 degrees and I triggered the stability control unexpectedly off a small roundabout while driving briskly. The tyres are clearly out of their comfort zone in the current weather but then they weren't designed for these temperatures.

However, the improvement in wet weather performance is huge. My commute is almost exclusively on country lanes and B roads; the winter tyres slice through standing water superbly and they help with all the mud on the roads too (though you end up washing the car more often).

I'm hoping we get some snow at some point so I can try out the tyres properly, but at the moment I have to conclude most of the benefits I have experienced are down to the smaller and narrower wheels rather than the winter tyres, except for the wet weather performance. This leads me to wonder if the Michelin CrossClimates may be a better compromise for our extremely variable winter weather, giving better snow performance than summer tyres and having the deeper tread pattern for clearing water but being better when the temperature is above 7 degrees.
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 11th January 2016, 18:14
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Fitted winter tyres on rear today, can't believe how much quieter they are than the energy savers.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 14th January 2016, 20:37
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Very Dangerous
You need winter rubber on all four corners, other wise car unstable when braking.
Check out clips on youtube
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 14th January 2016, 20:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telboy View Post
Very Dangerous
You need winter rubber on all four corners, other wise car unstable when braking.
Check out clips on youtube
Agreed. You need winters on all 4 wheels.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 14th January 2016, 20:51
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I find my winters to be a fair bit noisier.
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 14th January 2016, 20:59
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post #16 of 30 (permalink) Old 14th January 2016, 21:17
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I've got 4 on now put fronts on beginning of December.
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post #17 of 30 (permalink) Old 25th January 2016, 21:47 Thread Starter
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Finally got to try the tyres out in snow a week ago and I have to say I was impressed. I was able to turn around in a snow covered, sloping, woodland car park without any wheel spin and go up and down hills that only 4x4s were attempting. Climbing a hill covered in wet snow did have the car sliding a little, but it was easily controlled and drama free. The tyres also excelled on the very cold mornings last week with frost covered roads. However, given how rare snow is (and even frost these days), its still the wet weather performance that impresses me most.

I have increased the tyre pressures to 36psi at the front and 33psi at the rear after running 33/30 for a while. The ride has deteriorated slightly as a result but the car feels more planted, particularly on the motorway.

So all in I'm happy with my investment but still wonder if Cross Climates would be better all rounders. One thing is certain though, I'm not looking forward to putting the 17s back on the car come spring.
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post #18 of 30 (permalink) Old 25th January 2016, 23:06
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I actually have a 16" winter wheel set which replaces a summer 17" set each year and I have to say your findings are spot on! This guide will prove very useful for anyone wanting to do this.

I wouldn't worry too much about putting the summers back on when the weather improves. I find that there is a slight difference in the ride feel when making the change, but these were minor that you quickly become accustomed to.

While I can't say I really have had a good chance to try mine on snow (this area of South West London almost never gets snow) - it is pleasing to know that you had no trouble with this.

Cheers,

Stuart
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post #19 of 30 (permalink) Old 8th March 2018, 11:31 Thread Starter
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3 seasons later...

Coming to the end of my third winter running winter tyres on my Civic and I remain impressed. Over the recent cold snap the only thing that was stopping me through the snow was a lack of ground clearance rather than a lack of grip. That and stranded cars. The tyres have also proved greater in all winter conditions, rain, ice, mud etc. Wear rate has been very good, after two seasons the rears hadn't worn to any measurable degree whilst the fronts were down to 6mm. That's after around 8-10k. I need to measure them again at the end of this season though I've switched the fronts and rears.

There is still less precision in the handling than on summer tyres, but after the winters had been through a few heat cycles the degree of flexing in the tread definitely reduced. I can still enjoy a nice B road if the mood takes me. Overall the car is a nicer drive on the narrower winters than the wider summers, being quieter, quicker off the mark and with lighter more natural steering. I've not noticed any change in fuel consumption, though any increased resistance caused by the softer compound will be mitigated by the reduction in width from 225 to 205 compared to the summers. The steel rims are starting to rust which is irritating though given how cheap they were, perhaps not surprising. I shall look at painting them over the summer. The only other issue I have now is I'm thinking of changing my car but the new Civic has different tyre sizes which is a pain.
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post #20 of 30 (permalink) Old 8th March 2018, 15:28
 
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I'm considering getting a dedicated set of wheels for winter tyres this year - would some plastic wheel trims not do the job for hiding the rust once it starts appearing?
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