For something that could very well save your life, drivers in snowy states don’t put nearly enough thought into winter tires as they should. While AUTOMOBILE editors are already devout believers of winter tires, Bridgestone brought us down to South Bend, Indiana, where we sampled the latest and greatest arctic offerings from the tire maker on one of the most challenging surfaces possible: an ice rink.
Much of the hesitation toward winter tires comes from plenty of misconceptions. Drivers feel as though if they have all-wheel drive, or even front-wheel drive, the tires only make the difference when it comes to accelerating away from a stop in icy conditions. In reality, it’s stopping distance that make all the difference in the world with winter tires. This all comes down to a combination of specialized tread blocks, and a winter rubber compound that keeps its full elasticity in sub-freezing conditions. As a result, winter tires allow you to stop faster, corner better, and maintain absolute composure in the worst winter conditions imaginable.
Back to the ice rink. Bridgestone’s new Blizzak WS80 and DM-V2 tires served as the perfect test subjects to prove effectiveness of winter tires, and Bridgestone teamed up with our friends at Tire Rack to equip two Toyota Camrys with Bridgestone’s all-season tire, and its new Blizzak WS80 winter tires. We ran the cars up and down the ice rink multiple times, and recorded a stopping distance for both the all-season and WS80. The results were averaged together, and were converted to a real-world speed and distance applications.
The results from the Camry shod with the WS80 winter tire are telling. From 10 mph, the car with the WS80 arrived at a complete stop eight feet shorter than the equivalent all-season. From a 30 mph roll, the winterized Camry would come to a complete stop 63 feet sooner than the equivalent all-season tire, roughly four car lengths.
Bridgestone’s DM-V2 winter tires allowed a Toyota RAV4, to come to a complete stop from 10 mph in seven feet shorter than a RAV4 with the equivalent all-season tire, and 56 feet shorter from 30 mph.
Now, imagine your car is approaching an icy intersection, and you need to make a quick stop as the lights change. Winter tires could easily make the difference between locking up the brakes and sailing straight through the light in front of other cars, or safely stopping well before the crossing.
The additional cost of purchasing and storing winter tires is far outstripped by the potential life-saving benefits they provide. So, do us a favor, and go pick up a set of winter rubber to save yourself from injury and the hassle that results from weather-related collisions.