Winter Tires Review: Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 and Pirelli Scorpion Ice and Snow
We honestly thought we would not be able to complete our annual winter tire review this year. From the time that we mounted our first set of winter tires, Bridgestone Blizzak WS80s in November, the New York metropolitan area – actually much of the East Coast – enjoyed rather balmy, spring-like weather.
While schoolchildren look forward to a snowstorm with the hope that school will be closed, I began following forecasts of a major snowstorm, the Blizzard of 2016. Finally, snow was on the ground and we were ready with the Blizzaks on our Honda Accord and a fresh set of Pirelli Scorpion Ice and Snow winter tires on a BMW X5 xDrive40e.
WHY MOUNT WINTER TIRES
Driving during the blizzard would have been unwise, but once the snowfall ended and the roads were plowed, winter tires were a must in much of the Northeast.
While many countries around the globe mandate the use of winter tires in colder weather, the U.S. does not. Indeed, in many such places, the annual change from summer to winter tires is understood to be as important as resetting clocks. If you haven’t yet put on (or purchased) your own set of winter tires, it’s not too late.
Today’s winter tires are more advanced than ever. Unlike all-season tires, their rubber compound is optimized for frigid weather and driving on ice and snow.
A car with four winter tires, even a rear-wheel drive vehicle, will exhibit much better traction than a four-wheel drive car fitted with all-season tires. Winter-tire equipped cars stop more quickly and corner faster. Indeed, studies have shown that winter tires can improve braking by 25% and that having winter tires reduces the likelihood of an accident by as much as 38%.
Tests conducted by Transport Canada and the Rubber Association of Canada found that winter tires offer 50% more traction than all-season tires. In addition, the study confirmed that, in temperatures below 45° F (7° C), all-seasons and especially summer tires harden and lose traction. By contrast, winter tires retain their elasticity and grip at the lower temperatures.
Here’s an in-depth look at the two winter tires we tested during the Blizzard of 2016.