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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 02-06-2013, 09:02 PM
waehrik waehrik is offline
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Mein Auto: e39 530i/5, e28 535i
Review: General Altimax Arctic on an e39

This is the review I was looking for over the weekend when I began to research new snow tires for my 530i.

I know there are many reviews out there on the Altimax Arctic tires but as we all know tires behave differently on each type of car. I couldn't find much in particular on how these tires work on an e39 and what I did find seemed to be in conflict. Some people said they were loud, others quiet, some quick wearing and others saying they would last forever even wearing them through the summer.

My goals for winter tires are something that's quiet, good in deep snow, long lasting, and affordable. In that order.

I was planning on making my old Michelin Arctic Alpin tires last through the season but a highway blowout over the weekend changed that plan.

I've only put about a hundred miles on the tires so far but I can say they're exactly what I was looking for. I got them locally at Sullivan Tire including road force balancing for about $500 not including MA sales tax. Considering the price is $500 shipped from Tire Rack I thought this was pretty good for an installed price.
So far I've taken them up to 80mph on the highway and they're remarkably quiet and smooth. I was expecting something with such a chunky and deep tread design to be much louder than my old Arctic Alpins which only had about 6/32 tread left and were more of a 'high performance' snow with less siping.
They're about as loud as my summer PS2s but of course the sidewall and entire tire is much squishier. It's not as bad as I expected and handles much better than a set of Blizzak WS60s I had on an e46 in the past. I would give a lot of credit to the road force balancing but I noticed absolutely no vibration or odd rumbling all the way up to 80mph. This was one of my concerns in going with a 'budget' brand such as General because the construction may not be as high quality as a Michelin tire. If they continue to be this good, I'll be looking at a General tire to replace my summers in a year when my PS2s are worn down since I want an ultra high performance all season so I don't have to worry as much about being stuck during those wonderful freak April or October snowstorms.
My summers are 235/45/17 on Style 42s and these snows are 225/55/16 on Mille Miglia wheels

Please feel free to ask any questions in this thread and I'd be happy to answer.

I haven't driven them in real snow yet besides the light dusting we had this morning which doesn't count. If we get the blizzard they're predicting this weekend I'll report back with my experience in 2ft of snow.

Just a note for anyone in the New England area, Sullivan is the only place I've found to offer a real lifetime alignment. I don't work for them or anything, but it's something that I've been looking for for some time. Most places (VIP, I'm looking at you) only give you lifetime alignment for the life of the tires and require that you get all suspension work done there. Sullivan doesn't care where you get work done and it's for the lifetime that you have the plate on the car. For $200 it was a good deal for me so I can be super anal and get it checked and adjusted every few months. I'm at 78k right now so I know I have some suspension work coming up.
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  #2  
Old 02-07-2013, 05:17 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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We're getting POUNDED tommorrow (adjectives like EPIC, HISTORIC, etc. are being used)so I expect a full review regarding the deep powder capabilities of the Artics. BTW, do you throw any extra weight in your trunk? I find an extra 100 lbs of gravel in the trunk makes all the difference for traction in snow (with 4 snow tires). I bought the General UHPs (they were cheap!) a few years back and would rate them as just slightly above average but not nearly as good as my previous Pirelli P Zero Nero A/S. My Hakka snows have maybe about two seasons left on them so your review will be timely.
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  #3  
Old 02-07-2013, 07:19 AM
waehrik waehrik is offline
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I will definitely report back with their deep snow capabilities, this is also a great excuse to have some fun in an empty parking lot

I don't put any additional weight in the trunk and actually keep the whole car very clean of crap. Even with the fairly worn Arctic Alpin tires I never had an issue with traction this year and I was out driving in the middle of the last big storm we had. The hills I routinely climb are only around 10% grade.
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  #4  
Old 02-07-2013, 12:33 PM
black528i black528i is offline
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Good snow tires

I have the General Altimax Arctic tires on my e39 as well, and I think they get good traction in snow. I have had them on since October, and I have not had any issues getting around at all. I work at the hospital here and often get to go home at odd hours of the night prior to the plows getting out, and I have yet to get stuck. They hold to the road pretty well, and the traction control only comes on occasionally when starting from a dead stop. I was also able to get them for a little over $500 installed too. I didn't put any extra weight in the truck, because I have all of the usual stuff in the back (jump box, coolant, oil, belts, etc). I would buy them again.

Below is the picture of the last snow storm we had going home at 3 am.
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  #5  
Old 02-07-2013, 01:03 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by black528i View Post
Below is the picture of the last snow storm we had going home at 3 am.
Out here, they call that a dustin'!
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  #6  
Old 02-07-2013, 02:51 PM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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I have two seasons on Altimax snow tires on a Mitsubishi Outlander AWD. Admittedly, this is not directly relevant to E39 but I can say that these tires have provided outstanding traction in up to a foot of snow, they have been reasonably quiet over 20K miles of use, they have stayed in balance, and tread wear has been much better than Blizzak tires I was used to previously. Ice traction is not as good as Blizzaks but that has not been a problem with my AWD vehicle. We just slow down in icy conditions. I intend to buy them for my 530i this weekend.

I think it is a mistake to consider the Altimax a 'cheap' tire. I read somewhere that they are an established european brand that is affiliated with or owned by General Tire. I don't remember the euro brand right now.
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  #7  
Old 02-07-2013, 02:56 PM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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As far as ballast...I've never use extra weight due to most BMWs having an almost 50/50 weight ratio front/back. Since I've never had an issue with traction using dedicated winter tires...adding ballast in the trunk could drastically change the stopping and turning characteristics with a "pendulum" effect that wouldn't be there with the extra weight in the trunk.

Since dedicated winter tires improve turning & stopping...creating a pendulum effect is something I DON'T want to cause....so I just mount the winter tires and go. Now, this works for me and the winter conditions I usually have to drive in. Others may deal with winter conditions totally different than mine...and adding ballast may help with traction...but again, it still will create a pendulum effect if the front/rear balance is unequal.

Just a thought.
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Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg

Last edited by QSilver7; 02-08-2013 at 09:17 AM.
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  #8  
Old 02-07-2013, 03:44 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Good point. My problem in snow isn't handling but the lack of traction, especially getting from my side street onto the main road. I've had Dunlops M2s (great tires) before and am now running 4 Hakkas (even better snows). Even so, with or without DSC, my tires just spin when there's fresh snow on the ground making the merge a bit sporty. I drive slowly in snowy conditions so handling isn't an issue. And I usually only leave the gravel in the back for a day or two until the streets are well plowed.
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  #9  
Old 02-07-2013, 07:35 PM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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Found this on another forum:

"The General are a great looking tire and are actually made in germany, they are the exact copy of the Gislaved Nordfrost 3's which is very well regarded tire."
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  #10  
Old 02-08-2013, 06:59 AM
JKRIT JKRIT is offline
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We are happy with the Altimax studded snows on our 325it, and I happily run studded Hankook i*Pike W409 on my 525i. Hankook has also copied the original Gislaved snow tread pattern. I use the TireRack "alternate" narrower size tire for my 16" winter wheels, which is 215/60-16. I found that local tire stores won't even sell/mount that tire size for an E39, because their books don't list it as a correct size. Bring wheels in loose in another car, if you run into that problem; They don't care as long as they don't mount them on the car.
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  #11  
Old 02-08-2013, 07:19 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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I'm also run 215/60-16 on my Hakkas. I had Gislaved Frosts way back in the 70s on my Lancia. Awesome tires. The current Altimax tread pattern looks nothing like those old Frosts.
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  #12  
Old 02-08-2013, 09:49 AM
JKRIT JKRIT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
I'm also run 215/60-16 on my Hakkas. I had Gislaved Frosts way back in the 70s on my Lancia. Awesome tires. The current Altimax tread pattern looks nothing like those old Frosts.
Its the Gislaved Nordfrost 3 tread pattern that everyone else is copying: General, Hankook, and also the Pirelli Winter Carving. I think I even saw this tread on a Chinese tire the last time I was looking for snows. I didn't recognize the name, so I wasn't interested (at any price).
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  #13  
Old 02-12-2013, 06:59 AM
waehrik waehrik is offline
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Now that winter storm Nemo is passed it's time for my followup review. The storm left us with about two feet of snow in eastern Mass, though we very fortunate that it was very light and fluffy. You couldn't even make snowballs with it since it was so dry and loose.

Pictures are attached of what my cars looked like. The e39 fared much better since the wind blew all the snow away from the front of the car. I took a minute to clear away any snow in front that might damage the bumper and simply got in and drove out. I didn't expect this to work with how much snow had packed itself under the car from the wind but it was surprisingly like driving on dry pavement.
I took the car out for a long drive up to Haverhill and experienced a good range of conditions from the very poorly maintained highway known as RT3 (heavily packed snow across the whole surface with no sand) to a slushy mess on 495 where they did plow and salt adequately.
The bulk of the traffic on RT3 was in the right lane cautiously cursing at 40mph. I felt a little guilty being the only one on the left safely and confidently passing everyone going 70. It was incredible how good the grip was in these conditions. The Blizzak WS60's and Arctic Alpins I've had before weren't nearly as good.
I pulled off the highway and onto some back roads that still had up to 6" of snow including some fairly steep grades and the car/tires performed much better than expected, particularly considering the low cost of the tires. I kept traction control on most of the time because with the high level of grip it wasn't being a nuisance.

My e28 was another story. It was buried much deeper and is not equipped with snow tires. It's clad in nearly-new Yokohama TRD and had a significantly harder time making it out of its parking spot and even around the parking lot. It does have an LSD in the rear which is likely what made it possible at all. Now that the warm weather of yesterday has melted most of the snow on the roadways it's fine to drive again, but I would not want to be caught out in a blizzard in that car, all because of the tires. I wouldn't hesitate to drive the e39 anywhere in the winter with the Altimax Arctics.

I would absolutely buy these tires again and only hope that for the next set they don't realize how good of a deal they are and raise the price accordingly.
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  #14  
Old 02-12-2013, 10:30 AM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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Thanks for an excellent detailed review. I did not buy them yet for my E39 but your experience is consistent with my experience using the Altimax tires on my Outlander. This removes any lingering doubt I may have had about putting them on the 530i.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:35 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Now THAT was a SNOWSTORM!!!
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  #16  
Old 02-12-2013, 08:27 PM
EconoBox EconoBox is offline
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Nice e28 ! Tell us about it.
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:49 PM
waehrik waehrik is offline
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Originally Posted by EconoBox View Post
Nice e28 ! Tell us about it.
Thanks!

The e28 is an auto sadly, but it's one of the last 535i's made from what I can tell. It's a MY 1988 built in 10/78 since they didn't actually produce any e28's in 1988.

I bought it from a girl in South Boston who had it for a year and bought it from a guy in Connecticut who had it for several years and put an enormous amount of money paying a garage to bring it out of storage including a new transmission. Before that (pre-2008) it was a Florida car and is completely rust free except the bottom of the left two doors from clogged drains. The bottom looks absolutely mint.

I picked it up last year about this time when my girlfriend's Grand Am snapped a timing chain. It had been neglected in the year the girl had it and the whole suspension was shot and it needed a new driveshaft (broken U joint). I brought it up to my standards, replacing the HVAC blower, installing Mustang injectors among many many other things. I got this particular one because of the rust free condition and nearly mint interior. They're nearly impossible to find up here in the Northeast. I have a giant folder of receipts from the previous owner and all documented work from what I've done to it.

That all said, I'm considering selling it soon. We have a 3 year old and the e28 just isn't big enough for my girlfriend (it's her car). I picked up a 1990 735i (e32) a little while ago and am going through it now to prep it for her. Once it's ready I'm considering either using the e28 as a winter car for myself or selling it. I'm leaning towards the latter.
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