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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-09-2008, 09:59 PM
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Bren517 Bren517 is offline
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Is it true that snow chains can't be fitted to e39's with 17" +

As the title states, is it true that snow chains can't be fitted to e39's with 17" and bigger??
(I read it in the owner manual the other day) just curious because generally I take my car up to the snow here and sometimes it is regulations to have chains on if you are going up the mountains..

i'm guessing it's slightly different in the US but thought someone must know the answer
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  #2  
Old 10-09-2008, 11:07 PM
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kingdunke kingdunke is offline
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the tire walls are kinda thin on 17", which makes less space for the chain net. bottomline is i probably wouldn't risk the rims on chains
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  #3  
Old 10-10-2008, 06:53 AM
Waveho Waveho is offline
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I wouldn't go chains either. However, tire cables used in conjunction with snow tires should provide excellent traction. I know some of our Canadian friends have used just premium snow tires mounted on steel wheels to great success without even needing chains or cables. I remember, back in the day, my dad would replace the rear tires on our old AMC Rambler with knobby dedicated snow tires right after Thanksgiving. Everyone on our block in New Jersey would do this. Nobody does this anymore....
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  #4  
Old 10-10-2008, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waveho View Post
I remember, back in the day, my dad would replace the rear tires on our old AMC Rambler with knobby dedicated snow tires right after Thanksgiving. Everyone on our block in New Jersey would do this. Nobody does this anymore....
Er, uh...yeah they do...I just bought FOUR 215/50/17 Michelin X-Ice Xi2 snow/ice tires for my Touring. I have a dedciated set of snow wheels that I swap on sometimes between Thanksgiving & Chistmas.

I've been using dedicated snow tires since the winter of 2003. And I highly recommend snow tires for anyone that lives in snow country. They work so well that I had no problem selling my 4x4 Ford F150 truck...and I've been thru some pretty tough winter weather like 8"-12" snowfalls...on streets that haven't even been plowed yet.

Again, highly recommend snow tires.
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Last edited by QSilver7; 10-10-2008 at 04:15 PM.
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  #5  
Old 10-10-2008, 05:23 PM
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What is this snow nonsense you all speak of?
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  #6  
Old 10-11-2008, 03:20 PM
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What is this snow nonsense you all speak of?
Opening the garage door around 5 in the morning to the scene below....looking to the right...up the street...which can't be seen because the ground is covered at that point in about 5 inches of snow. These are the days dedicated snow tires start paying back their dividends!

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2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
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  #7  
Old 10-14-2008, 05:39 PM
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mm you all have some never interesting points there.

Down here at the ass end of the world called Australia we really don't get knee deep amounts of snow that we have to drive through (generally on the mountains) and its regulations that we need to carry chains. The thing is that i doubt the people at the gates to go up would know the difference between normal tires and dedicated snow tires.

I guess i'll just take one of our other cars up rather than mine next time we go.
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  #8  
Old 10-15-2008, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by kingdunke View Post
the tire walls are kinda thin on 17", which makes less space for the chain net. bottomline is i probably wouldn't risk the rims on chains
What planet are you from?
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  #9  
Old 01-03-2013, 11:39 AM
jderickson jderickson is offline
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Revisiting this question: chains on 17" wheels?

The question didn't get answered, and I have the same question! I have 17" OEM on an '02 525iT (yes, sport package too) and the manual says don't use chains on 17" wheels and above. I'm going to Tahoe soon (BlueBee I loved your photo diary of the same trip, but you have 16s.)

I do not believe it's due to the tire profile, rather, the clearance between the wheels and the fenders. However since I'd only be putting the chains on the rear (drive) wheels, in other words those wheels don't turn and have potential to rub fender linings .. wouldn't I be OK?

Has anyone actually put 17" chains on the rear wheels and been A-OK? I need chains for chain control at Tahoe and want to drive my car, not borrow another.

Thoughts? Thanks all!
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  #10  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:37 PM
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The tire diameter for a tire mounted on a 17" wheel should about the same as a tire mounted on a 16" wheel, irrespective of tire width. Otherwise, the speedometer would need to be recalibrated. The difference in tire sidewall height is compensated by using a different aspect ratio when sizing the tire (235/45-17 vs. 225/55-16) to a different diameter wheel. Hence, the BMW guidance does not make sense. The tire clearance should be about the same if you are staying within the recommended tire dimensions.
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  #11  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:46 PM
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As an alternative, you could use Auto Socks but they're not approved yet by CA DOT.
http://www.autosock.us/
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  #12  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SikMindz View Post
What is this snow nonsense you all speak of?
Get on highway 80 and head east for about 4 hours.
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  #13  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
The tire diameter for a tire mounted on a 17" wheel should about the same as a tire mounted on a 16" wheel, irrespective of tire width. Otherwise, the speedometer would need to be recalibrated. The difference in tire sidewall height is compensated by using a different aspect ratio when sizing the tire (235/45-17 vs. 225/55-16) to a different diameter wheel. Hence, the BMW guidance does not make sense. The tire clearance should be about the same if you are staying within the recommended tire dimensions.
Diameter yes. Width, not so much.
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  #14  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:47 PM
jderickson jderickson is offline
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Thanks Fudman, your logic sounds good, I hadn't thought about that. I am using stock wheels and tires and am not messing around with non-recommended tire sizes.

If anyone else has input would love to hear.
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  #15  
Old 01-03-2013, 01:56 PM
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The 17" sport wheels are wider than the stock 16" non-sport wheels. The diameter may be close (my 82's with 225/55 16 snow tires are slightly taller than my 235/45 17 summer tires on 42s) but my summer tires roll closer to the fender lips than the stock 16" did.

I wouldn't want to risk damaging my fenders running 17"s and chains. I would go out and find some 16"s and fit them with dedicated snowies.

In this instance, I might listen to the Germans.
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  #16  
Old 01-03-2013, 02:19 PM
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Revival of old thread, but OK, I'm game.

I know I had 16" dedicated winter wheels, and I sold them. Now I have a tad bigger than what I like for winter wheels, but now I can say they work. They're 18".
Getting back to 16" wheels: when I had them, they barely cleared the brake calipers (front). The rears had some space to spare, but not much. Personally, I would NEVER place chains on a e39 after studying how close the clearance is of these wheels to the wheel well. I have seen chains snap. Before they go off the wheel, the damage is impressive.
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  #17  
Old 01-03-2013, 03:43 PM
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I thought reviving an old thread was better than starting a new one, if the topic was the same? I wanted to keep it all together.

Anyway, I will feel around my wheels for clearance -- the chains are Thule 12mm and people seem to love them. 12mm is just less than a half-inch, I'd be surprised (but not totally shocked, it's a BMW) if my tires came within a half-inch of my fenders.

I wouldn't think that internal clearance would matter at all (re: the brake caliper clearance comment) -- the chains will only touch the tire, not inside the wheel. Or is there something I'm not getting?

When I move back east I will get dedicated 16 inch wheels with snow tires (probably 82s!)... just looking for an easy solution for a single trip to Tahoe with my all-seasons.

Thanks all!
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  #18  
Old 01-03-2013, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
The 17" sport wheels are wider than the stock 16" non-sport wheels. The diameter may be close (my 82's with 225/55 16 snow tires are slightly taller than my 235/45 17 summer tires on 42s) but my summer tires roll closer to the fender lips than the stock 16" did.

I wouldn't want to risk damaging my fenders running 17"s and chains. I would go out and find some 16"s and fit them with dedicated snowies.

In this instance, I might listen to the Germans.
I won't disagree. I'm running four 16" Hakkapeliitta snows.
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  #19  
Old 01-03-2013, 04:50 PM
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Before I put my sport springs on I had rally-style clearance with my 17"s and could probably had gotten away with chains. Now, not so much but the factory 16"s look way better stuffed up under the fenders.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jderickson View Post
reviving an old thread was better than starting a new one, if the topic was the same?
Absolutely nothing wrong with reviving an old thread.

To help out, I typed /snow F3 in the bestlinks, and this also came up:
- What snow chains to put on your BMW E39 tyres (1)

But it's not specific to 17-inch tires so I'll cross reference the two together so others find this more easily in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherGeezer View Post
Get on highway 80 and head east for about 4 hours.
Here's a pic of my last trip heading east on 80 near Tahoe:
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  #21  
Old 01-04-2013, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jderickson View Post

Stuff deleted

I wouldn't think that internal clearance would matter at all (re: the brake caliper clearance comment) -- the chains will only touch the tire, not inside the wheel. Or is there something I'm not getting?

Stuff deleted
That's if the chain breaks and gets dragged between the wheel and caliper, the damage will be significant. That was the comment for - didn't elaborate, but here it is: When I had the 16" wheels (winters), the city guys throw gravel on the icy roads. The gravel is small, but every now and then I had a pebble getting behind the wheel. It scored badly the wheel & the calipers - they got crushed. A broken chain will not get crushed if it gets there - it will do big time damage. Again, on 16" the clearance is very small behind the wheel. On bigger wheels, the width of the tire is larger, and depending on your setup (ie: sport, staggered, etc), the clearance of the rubber part against the fender wall is small. A broken chain will shred/tore the plastic and the sheet metal. A better solution would be the "socks" or the nylon "chains". Even if these break, they will not inflict damage. I have seen the damage done by a broken snow chain and it's ugly. The wheel will spin a few times before you can stop safely - by that time it's bodyshop appointment chore.
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  #22  
Old 01-04-2013, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
The tire diameter for a tire mounted on a 17" wheel should about the same as a tire mounted on a 16" wheel, irrespective of tire width. Otherwise, the speedometer would need to be recalibrated. The difference in tire sidewall height is compensated by using a different aspect ratio when sizing the tire (235/45-17 vs. 225/55-16) to a different diameter wheel. Hence, the BMW guidance does not make sense. The tire clearance should be about the same if you are staying within the recommended tire dimensions.
I'm not sure, but I think the issue is the clearance between the tire walls and surrounding metal parts such as fenders and suspension components. The cable chains should work, however. Another option is Spikes Spiders

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