Using a rear-wheel drive BMW on hard-packed snow and a front-wheel drive Honda Civic on ice, we tested the benefits of using four winter / snow tires compared to only two.
The Honda when equipped with both winter / snow tires and all-seasons was as follows:
- Front and Rear - Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02
Bridgestone Blizzak WS60
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Acceleration is the area most drivers make their case for only using two tires. The thought is to just put them on the drive axle and the snow traction problem is solved. This is absolutely true when looking at making the vehicle go, however you also need to stop and turn. For those situations, drive axle traction doesn't quite get the job done.
During the cornering tests on our snow-covered test track, the RWD BMW with all-seasons on the front slid off the track at a mere 25 mph. The rear tires had plenty of grip and in fact they pushed the car right off the pavement since the front tires could not gain traction to complete the turn. When we tried the FWD Honda on ice with all-seasons on the rear the car spun out when traveling only 11 mph. This is due to the front axle having ample grip to keep the front end planted and the rear end releasing when the all-seasons' grip is exceeded.
The braking exercises showed that both the BMW and Honda had a shorter stopping distance when equipped with winters on all four corners. On the snow-covered track, the BMW saw about a 20 foot decrease in stopping distance when equipped with four winter / snow tires. This test was a 30 to 0 mph run. The Honda, when tested on ice, saw a 12% decrease from 11 mph.
Installing four matching tires, be it a summer, all-season and especially in this case winter / snow tires is really the only way to go. As demonstrated in our testing, four of a kind always beats two pair.
Watch "Why Gamble With Winter Tire Selection When Four of a Kind Always Beats Two Pair" and "Mixed vs. Matched Tires" for full reports.