Pros: Probably the BEST non-studded snow tire. Increased Safety, Confidence, Traction.
Cons: Fast tire wear, poor traction/cornering/accelerating when ground is dry/weather warms up.
As any car/driving enthusiast knows, the four tire contact patches are your only connection between your car and the ground. These four spots are responsible for your driving, braking, cornering, accelerating, safety, etc.
For those of you in regions with a cold climate/season and snow, dedicated snow tires are practically indispensable!
Car & Driver has reviewed tires "Atop the Mountain/Snowflake" Dec 1999 and "Run-Flats for All Seasons" Nov 2005. Recently they tested AWD vehicles and wondered about the need for Snow Tires in a car with traction at the four corners with the availability of today's All-Season Tires. They concluded (Car & Driver March 2006, page 71):
1. If your driving includes significant snow conditions for part of the year, your car deserves specific summer and winter fitments. Pure and simple, all-season tires are a compromise in this regard.
2. IN SNOW, AWD with all-season tires has its benefit for traction but not the 28-30 percent offered by dedicated snow tires. Summer is a close call.
With that being said, I have owned 3 separate types of snow tires. Without a doubt, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50's have subjectively afforded the best traction, acceleration, braking, and cornering when driving in snow for my daily commutes. There is no comparison with summer tires in the snow. I have been stuck and unable even to back out of a parking spot with summer tires. Once I purchased the Blizzak's I have always been able to move. Accelerating away from stoplights I have noticed other cars spinning their tires and not moving. There is an occasional slip with the Blizzak's (which is expected) but the tires always seem to grip and propels my car ahead of others. This is credited to Blizzak's Multicell technology which traps snow and apparently the best traction is snow upon snow. I'm not exactly certain about the science behind this but I can say it works. I feel more confident and I feel safer with Blizzak's on my car during a snowy winter. They have performed equally as well on ice.
This is not the case, however, as soon as the weather warms up or if there is no snow on the ground. The Blizzak's do not perform well in pure wet/water conditions. It is noticeably not as good when turning down ramps at higher speeds with the weather warming up and the ground dry. Furthermore, warm weather wears out this special compound and microcell technology at a high rate. The stability of the tire in cornering, accelerating, braking is poor ony dry ground/in warm weather (in comparison to All-Season or dedicated Summer/Sport Tires). Additionally, tire noise/droning is noticeable when driving on dry ground.
For more information from Tirerack.com you can go to:
* Tires were approximately $90 PER Tire (This differs depending on your tire size)
* Size: 205 / 60 R 16 (downsized for winter)
* The Blizzak WS-50 meets the industry's severe snow service requirements and is branded with the snowflake-on-the-mountain symbol.
* Should be installed in sets of four
+ Of the 3 different snow tires I've trialed it has been the best snow tire
+ Excellent traction in snow/ice (Car was FWD)
+ Better cornering in snow/ice
+ Better acceleration in snow/ice (less tire spinning)
+ Better braking (shorter stopping distance) in snow/ice (Car had ABS)
+ Reasonably priced compared to other snow tires
- Poor traction in purely wet conditions (no snow) or dry conditions
- Noticeably decreased acceleration, cornering ability, tire noise, braking ability on dry ground/warm weather
- Fast wear when weather warms up (expected in most snow tires). Be sure to change back to your all-seasons or summer tires when Spring weather arrives!
Of the winter tires I've tried, this is the best snow tire so far. I had to purchase other tires (Dunlop Wintersport M2, Hankook Icebear W300) because the Blizzak WS-50 tires are not available in the correct size for my current car (low profile and wide tires). I will most likely try the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-22 in the future. There are some other dedicated winter tires from Vredestein and Hakkapalita that may also be very good, however, I have not tried those to compare them with the Blizzak WS-50.
Apparently there are TWO Bridgestone Blizzak epinion sections (not sure why that happens). For further epinions you can check out this listing: