Dedicated Snow Tires

tires
winter

#1

My job requires that I drive a lot: about 3,000 miles per month, on average. Because I work in areas of Colorado where snow and ice can be quite common, I decided to invest in a set of Blizzak WS60 tires. I compared those with Michelin X-Ice, and others.



My questions: have others used the Blizzak product? What has been your experience with them? Is there a dry road speed rating on the tire (i.e., is there a max speed that should not be exceeded on those tires)? Should I have them rotated (actually, switched from front to rear) more frequently than M&S tires?



(Incidentally, it’s ironic that since I’ve had the car shod with these tires, it ain’t snowed one time).



Thank you for your input.


#2

I use Good Year Nordic winter tires on my fwd van and have no problem on ice or snow.
Mind you, common sense must still prevail.

My next door neighbor has the Michelin X-Ice on his Subaru Outback and says he thinks they’re great.

There are others such as Nanook that are supposed to be good, but I (personally) don’t know anyone who uses them.


#3

You should check the max speed rating of winter tyres just as you should check it for all (three) season tyres. Most any “Winter” tyres will be far better than all season tyres in winter. The two you have mentioned are two of those with the best reputation.


#4

Since 90% of your driving will be on dry roads, the rapidly wearing snow tires will be worn out in 2 seasons and no rotation is necessary. You might mark them so next year you can “rotate” them when you put them back on. Can these tires be studded? If so, have YOURS been studded? That adds a whole new dimension to high-speed, dry road driving…


#5

Thank you for the reply. My vehicle is fwd also. I heard great things about the Michelin X-Ice (Ice-X?), too, but none of the local tire shops had any in stock–which is why I went with the Blizzaks. I agree, common sense must prevail in snow and ice. The winter tires give me a little more peace of mind, I guess. Thanks again for your inpu.


#6

I’ll check with the tire store re: speed ratings. I like to push the limit a little in the course of normal driving; however, this is the first time I’ve had winter tires installed, and I didn’t want to drive past their limit. Thank you for your suggestion.


#7

I was going to have them switched/“rotated” every 2k miles or so to keep them wearing evenly. Good point, I’ll mark them when I put the M&S tires back on. These are studless winter tires, FYI. But I can appreciate what you mean about the high-speed, dry road driving on studs. Thank you for the information.


#8

I live in southwestern Pennsylvania. I’m sure our winters are not nearly as bad as yours.

I used Blizzack WS-15 winter tires on my '92 Accord for 14 winters. I got 32400 miles on the set. I switched from summers to winters several times each winter depending on the weather forecast. I rotated them every 4000 miles or so. I bought them from Tire Rack mounted and balanced on their own set of steel wheels.

I have another set of the same on my wife’s '98 Accord. That set has 18000 miles on it. I rotate them every 4000 miles or so. Bought from Tire Rack, etc etc same as the '92.

Last year I installed a set of Blizzack WS-60s on the '92 Accord. I didn’t rotate them or remove them all winter. They saw a higher percentage of dry pavement than my WS-15s. After 5400 miles the fronts are really worn. I’ll rotate them this winter when I install them. I expect this will be the last winter on this set. I bought them from Sears. Only complaint about that is that they overtorqued the wheel nuts even after I warned the service manager about it. (I always take my torque wrench along and check wheel nut torque after someone else removes a wheel from my car).

I liked the WS-15s better. (That’s probably why they are no longer available). My '92 is a stick shift. There were times when I’d have to stop and restart on a steep slippery uphill due to other traffic. Tough to avoid spinning with a clutch, but the WS-15s never let me down. Very impressive!

The WS-60s are unidirectional, therefore can only be swapped front to rear on the same side. I don’t like unidirectional tires. Tires need to have good traction in both directions, and I don’t like the idea of maximizing traction in one direction and sacrificing it in the other direction.

The key to tread life is how much driving you do on dry roads. You may find that your tires won’t last a whole winter. On my WS-15s there were wear bars at about 55% treaddepth. This was the end of their ability to grip well on ice. Below that point they were just regular snow tires. I got rid of them at this point. An unknowing person would look at the remaining tread and think they had a lot more life; but they didn’t. I assume the WS-60s are the same, but haven’t checked yet.

My snow tires are rated at 88 or 90 mph. I think they have a “Q” rating.

In 1993, when I ordered the first set from Tire Rack, my only choice was between Bridgestone and Pirelli. I flipped a coin and Bridgestone won. Now there are many more brands available and many of them claim to have better dry road mileage than the Bridgestones. I can’t verify, of course, but I can assure you that the Bridgestone WS-15s are super on snow and ice. My WS-60’s haven’t been tested enough for me to say that they are equal or better than the WS-15s.


#9

I was born and raised in SW PA (Pittsburgh, the South Hills to be exact). Winters there are bad, but the salt and cinders helped remove the snow and ice (as well as the road surface and car finishes), ergo the potholes and rust holes. Snow and ice in Colorado are mitigated by the sun (when we’re so blessed), granite gravel (windshield loss here is immense) and mag-chloride (which many municipalities use–which isn’t so great for cars, either).

Ice and snowpack is a bigger deal here–because no salt is used, more times than not; which is why I went to a dedicated winter tire this year–especially regarding some of the areas in which I travel these days.

I had a suspicion that I’d face some of what you’d experienced with your Blizzaks and their soft rubber compound and “micro-cell technology”. You confirmed my horse sense to have them moved fore to aft, and vice-versa (they are directional, as you say, and “rotation” is not the accurate method in this case) more often than with my Michelin M&S tires.

The past couple of weeks (since I had the Blizzaks installed, of course) have been very pleasant, even balmy, for this time of year. Therefore, the roads have been dry. Even with an “R” speed rating, I didn’t want to push the tires too hard for fear of wearing them out sooner than later–not to mention road handling and safety concerns.

Like you said, once these tires get to the wear bars, the benefit of their design is history. I like your idea of swapping the winter tires out during good weather. The only problem with that in my case is that I travel for a week or more at a time. I’d have to take them with me to ensure running with the right tire for the appropriate weather.

Also, your attention to detail is impressive, as mine simply irks most mechanics and auto techs. I like it that you take your torque wrench with you. I use Discount Tire almost exclusively (and have for nearly 20 years) and they torque the lug nuts every time. Once, I had a mechanic (whose business I no longer use for this and other reasons) torque a lug nut so tightly, that the lug bolt had to be replaced.

I appreciate your input. Thank you for sharing your experience and your suggestions. Happy Holidays to a fellow PA person.


#10

The lifespan used to be only about 20k miles for the special ice clawing tread(studless). I owned the WS-50’s for three seasons on a long Civic and it was unstoppable in the winter and I used ski over 40 times/year with 200 mile drive away where it would rain at home then turn to treachorous mix of ice/rain then ice/snow then snow I was lusting for.

The problem with the WS-50’s was after the 20k miles the spongy tread wore off and the ice capabilites were not significantly better than all-seasons. The winter capability remained.

Lastly the WS-50’s were squirmy tires on pavement, made a singing noise in the rain, and had absolutely terrible traction on wet pavement. The WS-50’s would actually squack sometimes when taking off in rain.

I think the WS-60’s are improved all around hopefully significantly. If you want a longer lasting winter tire I believe Michelin X-ice’s are decent and Nokian winter tires definitely last much longer(typical life of 40k+).


#11

I think I’ll opt for the X-Ice’s next time. That’s what my intuition tells me. However, the jury’s still out yet concerning the ROI I’ll get on the WS-60’s. I’m experiencing the “singing” on dry pavement, but I’d probably get that with any snow tire. Trouble is, I haven’t had the opportunity to fully experience the Blizzak’s snow and ice capabilities. But, that’s good news relative to traveling in treacherous conditions, I guess.

Thank you for the input.


#12

Thanks, Lars, I hadn’t realized the Blizzaks were unidirectional & put mine on the wrong way. Just switched them. No mention of unidirection from Tire Rack–strange. Thanks for the heads up.


#13

Rotating every 2k miles is crazy (every 3 weeks?) unless you have a nice warm garage or time on your hands. I would simply rotate them either every oil change or every other in your case. I rotated every 6k-8k on my old Honda Civic and managed 40k out of Michelin winter tires that are no longer sold.

Caddyman is being sarcastic but truthful on the old school snow tires. Winter tires have improved significantly over them.