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      01-10-2011, 08:24 PM   #1
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2011 M3  [3.37]
Review: Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3

I have had the PA3's on the M3 since the middle of October and have now been through about all weather combinations possible so I thought it might be useful to post a review. I am running 245/40-18 all around.

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada which has a climate that would be comparable to, say, Boston. We get snow fairly frequently (although not a lot this year ) but it is cleared relatively quickly. Temps range from +15 deg to -15 deg celcius over the late fall/winter/early spring.

I bought the PA3's because the roads are clear 90% of the winter and I just HATE driving on winter tires that are squishy. I hoped the PA3 would be great during cold, dry days and good during bad weather days. Well, I got one out of two...

On cold or wet days, these tires are simply amazing. Grip levels are VERY high for a winter tire. They have great turn-in, great cornering grip, track straight and are very, very quiet. Ride quality is as good, if not better, than my previous summer tires. I forget that I am driving on winter tires whenever the road is clear.

The problem is that they are HORRIBLE in deep snow and ice. My last set of winter tires were Bridgestone Blizzak LM-25s and they were much, much better in snow and on ice. We had a storm this weekend and had about 4" of snow. I decided to take the M3 out on my street to see how the tires would handle the snow. Let's just say I didn't get very far... the tires spun like they floated on the snow. I could not get going on even a slight incline from a stop. As a matter of fact, I would slide backwards. If DSC was on, the tires slipped so badly the engine cut all power. With DSC off, I would spin uncontrollably with any level of gas.

I have been driving rear wheel drive cars in winter for 6 years and this is the only time I felt completely unsafe. Maybe it was a combination of wet snow and ice? I'm not sure. All I can say is the M3 cannot go out in any amount of snow with these tires on.

I'm sure there are those who will disagree with this review but, IMO, you just haven't experienced real snow/ice yet. My wife read some of the Tirerack reviews that said the PA3s made their car a "tank" and her response was "do any of those people actually drive in a real winter?"

My LM-25s were much better in bad weather and 95% as good in the dry. The PA3s are great for 90% of the time but, IMO, will leave you stranded if you get caught in a storm. I had read other reviews that confirmed this but I chose to ignore those and focus on the "good" reviews. I will keep these on for the balance of the winter (3 months) and will replace them with Blizzak LM-60s next winter.

Summary...

Dry, wet, cold - A++

Light snow, slush - C+

Deeper snow, ice - F

P.S. If anyone wants to buy a set of PA3's with about 4,000 miles on them, let me know . I will be selling these for a good price after winter.

Last edited by gthal; 01-10-2011 at 08:30 PM.
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      01-10-2011, 08:35 PM   #2
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One other thing... I called Tirerack today to see if they had any LM-60s in stock because I was so annoyed by the PA3's yesterday. The salesman I spoke to (can't remember his name) wasn't surprised about my comments around the PA3 in deeper snow/ice at all. He suggested the LM-60 would be a much better choice in real winter conditions.

Anyway, if you don't drive in deep snow/ice, get the PA3. If you do, then my opinion is avoid them.
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      01-10-2011, 08:51 PM   #3
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Glad I ran across your review. I have a new e90 M3 purchased in October. First thing I did to get prepared for Chicago winter was buy the Mich Pilot Alpins, but I got the PA2's.

I agree with you that they are very good in the cold, when dry. Good traction , quiet and they handle very well. Even at high speeds. You almost forget they are winters.
We seem to have a higher than usual dry coating of salt on our roads, so the road feel was more like ice.
I am not impressed with these on snow. I do think that for most of the time in winter, it is dry or plowed and you'd want more of a summer tire feel in those conditions, but only safer, hence the PA2 and PA3's really shine as performance winters.
The down side of this is less snow traction when you really need it.
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      01-11-2011, 12:36 PM   #4
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Great review, thanks!
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      01-12-2011, 08:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Great review, thanks!
My pleasure. I always find it difficult buying tires given the wide range of opinions. If the review helps people decide whether the tires are right for them, then great. They are good tires but not for all needs.
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      01-12-2011, 10:39 AM   #6
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i share your feelings on my FWD, 265+ hp car... awesome tires on the highway at illegal speeds at -30C (ask that sheriff who clocked me at 152 kmh ), somewhat good on snow (unless the car bottoms out but then any tire would be useless), and only so-so on ice... in a humid (= icy) climate like Nova Scotia, i can see why you have issues with these... it's so dry around here that we rarely get ice, mostly packed snow...
Anyway, i agree 100% with your review! if you want control and performance on cold days while maintaining some kind of snow traction, get these. If you need a hardcore winter tire, get something else...
i guess you could compare the feeling of these tires on ice to an extreme summer-performance tire on a cold'ish rainy day (+5 C)... it will get you where you need to go, but you'd better take it easy...
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      01-12-2011, 10:39 AM   #7
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Glad I opted for the LM-60's instead of the PA3's. I was so close to buying them, what swayed me actually was the LM-60's were 100 bucks cheaper in the end
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      01-12-2011, 12:16 PM   #8
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I hear the LM60s and even the older LM25s are are awesome in the snow. And actually pretty nice in the cold and dry too!
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      01-12-2011, 12:26 PM   #9
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I also have new PA3s 245-40/18s. I disagree with the OP about their performance in the snow. While not as good as an ice-snow dedicated tire, they do a pretty good job. We get alot of snow here in northern Indiana (35 inches this past weekend alone). The tires peformed well, including hills and cornering. The limiting factor is the ground clearance of the car, not the traction of the tires. The combination of a well balanced car, PA3s, defeatable DSC, and a manual tranny is all I need. And as stated, they are great in the wet, slush and dry.

Last edited by Alicate; 01-12-2011 at 01:23 PM.
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      01-12-2011, 08:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicate View Post
I also have new PA3s 245-40/18s. I disagree with the OP about their performance in the snow. While not as good as an ice-snow dedicated tire, they do a pretty good job. We get alot of snow here in northern Indiana (35 inches this past weekend alone). The tires peformed well, including hills and cornering. The limiting factor is the ground clearance of the car, not the traction of the tires. The combination of a well balanced car, PA3s, defeatable DSC, and a manual tranny is all I need. And as stated, they are great in the wet, slush and dry.
I always find it interesting the different opinions on tire performance. Having said that, my opinion improved on the PA3s today. We got another 4" of snow while I was at work today so I decided to give the car another shot. While they did not perform as well as my previous LM-25s, they were better than they were when I wrote the review.

What was the difference? Well, the snow today was very wet and heavy and there was no real ice. I think the combination of ice and snow when I wrote the review just killed the PA3. Heavy, wet snow with no ice was much better.

I would still suggest these tires are HEAVILY weighted to cold, dry winter performance. That doesn't mean they are bad, necessarily, but rather they won't be as suitable for some of us in climates that get a lot of deep snow and ice. I do believe that in those climates, the LM-60 is a better choice. If all someone gets is cold weather or nice soft, fluffy snow without a lot of ice, the PA3 would be great.

So... my opinion is a little better today but I'm still going to switch out to the LM-60 next winter.
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      01-13-2011, 10:39 AM   #11
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I have PA2's on my car in 235/40/18 and I live in SW Ontario. I happen to agree with the OP. The Pilot Alpins are not good in deep snow. They are not good in slush. They suck on wet heavy snow. Don't even ask about ice!! They are great when it's dry - almost like one is driving on summer tires!

I hate them sooooo much that I dropped my car off this morning to have Nokian Hakkapeliitta R's put on right now!! I am willing to lose dry road feel so that I don't get stuck in my subdivision!
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      01-13-2011, 04:12 PM   #12
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I have these tires too (cant remember if they are pa2 or 3) and I agree with the review. Great on dry roads, but only on dry roads. Anything else, esp snow and they are outright dangerous. I've gotten stuck three times in my own driveway. Not even close to as good as the wintersports I used to use. I cant wait till these are worn so I can rationalize buying a set of wintersports again.

Tire rack should not be recommending these tires as capable in snow.
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      01-13-2011, 04:24 PM   #13
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i wouldn't say they're dangerous in snow conditions, but i hope there are better tires out there ! those are my first dedicated winter tires, so i cant really compare....
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      01-13-2011, 05:28 PM   #14
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Drove home with the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R's!! What a difference for the better. It's snowing outside and there was even more snow in the subdivision than this morning. I purposely went into the unploughed streets just to check these tires out. The traction control wasn't going crazy and I had no problems even when I stopped on a hill with about 10cm of heavy messy snow.

I am glad I changed from the PA2's!
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      01-14-2011, 09:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enfield View Post
Drove home with the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R's!! What a difference for the better. It's snowing outside and there was even more snow in the subdivision than this morning. I purposely went into the unploughed streets just to check these tires out. The traction control wasn't going crazy and I had no problems even when I stopped on a hill with about 10cm of heavy messy snow.

I am glad I changed from the PA2's!
I would be curious as to your opinion on dry pavement. When I switch out the PA3s, I am going to go with either LM-60 or the Hakkapeliita R.
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      01-15-2011, 11:18 AM   #16
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gthal, if you trade off the Pilots for the Bridgestones next year you'll lose some of your cold/dry weather handling. My LM-60's are a bit soft and sloppy in the dry for my liking but honestly, for all-round winter use, they're just fine. My regrets will no doubt come in the early spring when the snow, salt and sand is gone but it's still too cold to put the summer tires on. That's when a tire like the PA3 might make better sense.

In a perfect world, if I had room in the house for all of the tire/wheel combos we're running on our vehicles, I'd do LM-60's for winter, PS All-Seasons for late fall/spring and the OEM Pilots for the good weather. Wishful thinking.

Last edited by Mark's M; 01-19-2011 at 01:27 AM.
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      01-16-2011, 05:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gthal View Post
I would be curious as to your opinion on dry pavement. When I switch out the PA3s, I am going to go with either LM-60 or the Hakkapeliita R.
Hasn't quit snowing since I put the new tires on. I will let you know once we have dry bare pavement.
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      01-16-2011, 06:12 PM   #18
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i am not surprised. these tires are rated as performance winter. so what did you expect ? my pirelli sottozero behaves the same way too. but i have learnt to deal with it.
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      01-16-2011, 07:49 PM   #19
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I'll add my little tidbit. My Blizzak LM-60 perform amazingly well in deep snow/slush conditions and pretty good on cold dry roads. However anything above 0C and the rubber becomes squishy and traction begins to suffer. But I won't have worry about that anytime soon as it's like -15 outside right now!
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      01-16-2011, 10:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
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i am not surprised. these tires are rated as performance winter. so what did you expect ? my pirelli sottozero behaves the same way too. but i have learnt to deal with it.
I guess I expected them to not be great in snow but they are really bad. The reviews on these seemed to indicate they were decent in deeper snow but I'm convinced people write great reviews to justify their purchases or don't have a real winter.
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      01-16-2011, 10:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
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However anything above 0C and the rubber becomes squishy and traction begins to suffer. But I won't have worry about that anytime soon as it's like -15 outside right now!
I think this is the inherent compromise... get something like the PA3 and they are great in October/November and March/April but they aren't as good for the core winter months of December through February. If you go with a softer winter tire, like the LM-60, you could put them on later in the fall and take them off earlier in the spring (to avoid the warmer temps) but then you run the risk of getting caught with the summer tires on.

As the winters get warmer (this is the warmest we have had here in forever and have only had snow 3 times), the PA3s will be a better choice.
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      01-17-2011, 02:36 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alicate View Post
I also have new PA3s 245-40/18s. I disagree with the OP about their performance in the snow. While not as good as an ice-snow dedicated tire, they do a pretty good job.
I agree with this. Only had one issue and that was because there was ice under the snow and the car was parked on an incline, otherwise the PA3's have worked very well for me.
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